Rally to protect federal public lands from logging

Published: Nov. 12, 2022 at 9:24 PM EST
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ROCHESTER, Vt. (WCAX) - As world leaders gather at COP27 in Egypt to make commitments for climate action, groups across the country are urging the US Forest Service and Biden Administration to take action to protect federal public lands from logging. The first of these demonstrations was held right here in Vermont.

“I want the US Forest Service to make sure that we’re doing the right thing here before we start going to tell other countries what to do,” said Zack Porter, the Executive Director of Standing Trees.

The Forest Service is currently considering logging more than 10,000 acres of forest as part of the Telephone Gap Integrated Resource Project something activists say is unacceptable.

“I don’t think the Green Mountain National Forest needs to become an active woodlot,” said Deniz Dutton, a senior at the University of Vermont.

The Forest Service claims this logging proposal set to take place in the Green Mountain national Forest is needed to create early successional habitat and produce timber. But those at the demonstration say the negative environmental effects of logging outweigh the benefits.

“Old growth forest ecosystems are objectively rarer and house a greater diversity of species. The best defense we have against climate change is to leave the trees standing and if the Forest Service refuses to do this on public lands, then it is not for the public interest,” said Dutton

The activists are calling on the US Forest Service to permanently protect forests over the age of 80, and to not go through with the logging project.

“We have to raise our voices. We have to make sure that we are making public lands truly public, truly democratic, holding decision makers accountable… if we keep this up, we’re going to make sure that telephone gap doesn’t happen. And that it definitely doesn’t happen the way that they’re envisioning,” said Porter

People at the rally say they will continue speaking out against the project and hope that they will be able to convince the forest Service to change its mind.

“Nobody’s coming to save us. It is us. It is us. It’s the people who show up. The urgency is right now we have to act to protect these trees,” said Dan Castrigano with XR Vermont

The sale is still in the early planning stages, and the official public comment process on the project is expected hasn’t started yet.