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  Sierra Magazine
  July/August 2005
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Sierra Magazine
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One Small Step: Righteous Roadblock
Joan Norman: Cave Junction, Oregon
Forest defender, age 72

Joan Norman: Cave Junction, Oregon"I'm calling collect from the Josephine County Jail in Grants Pass, Oregon. This is my second arrest in two weeks for protesting industrial logging of old-growth trees burned by the 2002 Biscuit fire in Siskiyou National Forest.

"I have eight great-grandchildren, and the most important thing I've ever done with them is take them into the forest. We would stand on the bridge and watch the salmon coming up in the clear stream. I loved to watch my young ones paddling their feet in the water. We would take sandwiches and camp wherever we stopped. When I couldn't walk so well anymore, one of my grandsons would hike all around in the forest and then come and tell me stories about what he'd seen. I cry to tell you that we're losing these places. People come here from all over the world to see Oregon's forests. They don't come here to see stumps and clearcuts.

"On the day I first got arrested in early March, I had camped along the Illinois River with about 40 other protestors. At 4:30 on the morning the timber sale was to begin, we made a blockade across the Green Bridge along the logging road. I have arthritis and osteoporosis and can't stand very long, so one of the protestors brought me a lawn chair. I wouldn't get up when they tried to arrest me, so they carried me to the paddy wagon like the Queen of Sheba in that chair! Eleven of us were arrested. I spent two days in jail and then had to sign something promising I would not go back to the protest site. I signed it and went right back.

"Now I'm a repeat offender! It's been a little hard on me physically. Also personally. One of my great-grandchildren has trouble reading, and so after school we'd just settle into the couch and read together. I'm not doing that, and I'm not babysitting for my family. But I'd get arrested again. What kills me is that people do not know this kind of industrial logging is going on. Somebody just has to say stop to the timber companies. I'm willing to get arrested to make this point. There is nothing that can be done to me that even comes close to what's happening to my precious land."

Editor's note: Norman was released from jail on March 30.

— interview by Marilyn Berlin Snell

ON THE WEB The Biscuit fire sale targets more than 30 square miles — the biggest public-lands timber sale in modern history. Find out more at oregon.sierraclub.org/conserv/biscuit.


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