Police take logging protesters into custody

Police take logging protesters into custody

ELLIOT STATE FOREST, Ore. - Three people perched on aerial platforms in trees at a logging protest were taken into custody on Thursday for investigation of criminal trespass, Oregon State Police said.

State police and Coos County sheriff's deputies took Grace Warner Pettygrove, 23, of Eugene, Emmalynn Lorraine Garrett, 26, of Bandon and Robert Petersmeyer Oliver, 18, from Seattle into custody Thursday afternoon and took them to the Coos County jail. This story will be updated with any details about the charges against the protesters.

Police said they arrived Thursday to enforce a notification issued Wednesday by the Department of State Lands to the protesters from Cascade Forest Defenders.

The letter told  protesters that the state considered their protest of the Elkhorn Ranch timber sale to be illegal and that they needed to clear out of the area by noon on Thursday.

Twenty Oregon State Police troopers, detectives and 10 Coos County deputies arrived with Oregon Department of Forestry personnel Thursday at noon and provided the three persons on platforms in trees another opportunity to voluntarily come down and leave.

If they refused, they were told they would be arrested for Criminal Trespass in the Second Degree, state police said. 

Lt. Greg Hastings of the OSP said, "One of them had a trench about three feet deep that was actually dug, and then there were large logs, rocks and barbed wire that was intertwined amongst the debris that was spread across the roadway at all three locations."

KPIC News reported that a boom platform vehicle was brought in from Albany to allow officers to reach the platforms 70 to 90 feet up in the trees. The protesters climbed higher in the trees away from police before they surrendered.

At approximately 3:30 p.m. all three subjects agreed to voluntarily come down and surrender. 

After being taken into custody, Garrett spoke to reporters. "I went up into that tree because I think if we don't stop what we are doing right now, in 50 years we will not have a livable biosphere," she said. "If we continue to cut down forests like this, forests that store carbon, forests that filter our air and water for us, we won't be able to make it."

Lakeside Fire & Rescue personnel were near the site in case anyone needed medical care, police said. A US Coast Guard helicopter was also on standby to help if needed.

A backhoe was contracted by the Oregon Department of Forestry and transported to the site to repair roadway damage and clear debris positioned to block access to the protest site, police said.

Scott Timber Company bought the logging rights to the sale in 2009. The harvest wasn't supposed to start for another two weeks, KPIC News reports.

Cascadia Forest Defenders was involved in a similar protest at the Elliott State Forest in 2009 where 20 people were arrested.