Tag Archives: Boreal Forest

Native Americans gather in Portland to protest oil sands shipments

21 Mar

By Kelly House, The Oregonian

Members of the Grande Ronde and Warm Springs tribes gathered Sunday to sing and pray at Kelly Point Park in North Portland, chosen for its location at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers. The group of about 20 Native Americans and environmental activists were protesting the shipment of equipment upriver to support an oil project in Alberta, Canada.

An ancient Native American song emanated Sunday from the confluence of the Columbia and Willamette rivers.


Five drummers rhythmically pounded on a ceremonial drum while spectators passed around a seashell filled with smoking prayer leaves. “Ya-hey-ya-hey-ha,” lead drummer James Thinn chanted above the other singers, a traditional warrior’s chant.

The group’s enemies, Thinn said, are oil-factory modules moving up the Columbia River, across the states of Idaho and Montana, and into Canada’s oil sands, where Imperial Oil, a subsidiary of Exxon-Mobil, will assemble the 207 massive components into in an $8 billion oil operation. Imperial plans to strip mine tarlike bitumen from the ground and convert it into petroleum through a complicated, energy-consumptive process.

The Native American ceremony was an act of protest against the Imperial megaloads and all they represent – scarring of the landscape, the threat of pollution, destruction of salmon-rich rivers and the loss of a way of life. The gathering at Kelley Point Park was the first known organized protest of the megaloads in the Portland area, although protests have raged for months in Montana and Idaho, where tribal leaders held a similar event Sunday.

Shayleen Macy, 25, helped organize Sunday’s protest with two fellow Native American activists, Kayla Godowa and Delia Sanchez, 24. They call themselves Indigenous People for Sustainable Lifestyles.

Although the trio is based in Eugene, they chose Portland for their protest because of the Columbia’s significance to Native American culture.

“It’s ancestral water of all different Chinook tribes,” Macy said. “We want to protect this river and help other people protect their indigenous homelands.
The tribes have treaty rights to fish the river, but tribe members say the salmon catch is dwindling every year. They blame flow-altering dams that allow boats to travel the river — including the barges that carry the oil-factory modules from Vancouver to Lewiston, Idaho, where they will be hauled by land to the Imperial operation amid Canada’s boreal forest.

“We don’t want this river to be used to help them destroy that forest,” Macy said.

Trish Weber, founder of All Against the Haul, said activists’ reasons for opposing the shipments are many.

Some worry the loads could veer off the narrow roads of U.S. 12 and fall into the river, affecting its natural flow for months. Others don’t want to see the factory built. Some are against the Keystone XL pipeline that would transport the petroleum from Canada to Texas. Many just don’t want the scenic highway turned into a shipping corridor for the Canadian oil industry.

But until now, the activism has been concentrated in Idaho and Montana.

“I think we’re going to start seeing a lot more action here in Oregon,” said Weber, who attended the protest.

Several members of environmental group Portland Rising Tide were at Sunday’s protest, joining the tribe members in opposition to the hauls. They’re planning two more anti-haul demonstrations on Wednesday and in April, said group member Jasmine Zimmer-Stucky, 24.

The National Wildlife Federation has also begun pushing the oil sands issue in Oregon. Mike O’Leary, Oregon organizer for the federation, said the group is asking political leaders to join a campaign aimed at buying petroleum that isn’t sourced from the oil sands.

Still, O’Leary said, the controversy is “very much off the radar” for most Oregonians.

“If you ask the average Prius-driving American about the tar sands, they don’t know,” he said.

As barges carrying industrial cargo passed in the distance Sunday, about 20 protesters stood on the banks of the Columbia and Willamette rivers and started a new chant — this one a traditional Multnomah Chinook blessing. Each protester held a small mound of tobacco as an offering to the sacred waters.

“We’ve always been affected by what’s going on in this river,” Delia Sanchez said. “We’re trying to unite against this.”

See a video of the protest here.

Pew Environmental Study Finds Boreal Forest is ‘Earth’s Water Keeper.’

16 Mar

A map showing the boreal forest stretching from coast to coast across Canada

A U.S.-based conservation group has concluded that the great ribbon of green that stretches across northern Canada is one of the world’s great storehouses of fresh water and influences the environment of the entire planet.


Pew Environment Group researchers, whose study is one of the first attempts to bring together all data on the boreal forest, say even they were amazed at what they found.

“Until we started putting all these pieces of the puzzle together, we didn’t even see the whole picture ourselves as far as water goes,” said spokesman Steve Kallick. “This analysis has been revelatory to us.”

The report concludes more must be done to control resource development, protect wetlands and implement conservation agreements already in place.

“There hasn’t been a policy focus on Canada’s waters, which is kind of a shame,” said Kallick.

The report titled Forest of Blue brings together findings from dozens of published scientific surveys and concludes the boreal forest is “the world’s water keeper.” The Pew analysis calls it the most water-rich region on Earth at a time when countries have ever-growing demands for fresh water.

It has 800,000 square kilometres of surface water and half of the world’s lakes larger than a square kilometre. It holds five of the world’s 50 largest rivers and boasts, in Great Bear Lake in the Northwest Territories, what’s believed to be the world’s largest remaining unpolluted lake. Fully one-quarter of the globe’s wetlands are in the boreal forest.

All that water has consequences for the entire planet.

Continue reading here: http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/breakingnews/us-environmental-group-says-canadas-forests-the-earths-waterkeeper-118085439.html

Big Northern Greenwash: Who Speaks for the Trees?

22 May

So a new management deal has been signed for Canada’s Boreal Forest. It’s being hailed as the largest forest deal in the history of the world. You can see the map above: orange will be ‘protected’, gray areas will not. The fragmentation seems to indicate a lack of wildlife migration corridors. Sounds pretty fishy already. Check out this article especially, and this one, and this from the NYT business blog. 21 timber and paper companies, the State and 9 NGOs are on board, including Greenpeace, which is publicly declaring this deal as a major victory. But many questions remain unanswered, like these from DTE. And as usual, despite their having been here for at least thousands of years, no one consulted the Natives. Mad props to the VMC for breaking this.

“It’s a massive tomb, uh, tome that we’ve put together,” misspoke Richard Brooks from Greenpeace at the press conference on Tuesday morning. Only a twelve page abridged version of the agreement has been made public. The full agreement was leaked to the Vancouver Media Co-op on May 19. According to Brooks, it will now be presented to various levels of government.

“The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement is essentially another huge jump away from democracy, towards corporate control of the lands of Canada, as well as the corporatization of what is left of a once defiant environmental movement,” said Macdonald Stainsby, coordinator of OilSandsTruth.org.

“I hardly think that this in any way represents an end to the conflict between the true proponants of the war over the boreal forest, which of course are corporations and First Nations,” he said. “What this means is that First Nations no longer have the support of these mainstream environmental groups that have fallen into the strategy of conquer and divide deployed by industry.”

For their part, smaller environmental groups are worried the deal will distract from the ongoing devastation of Canada’s forests, and could contribute to more false solutions for climate change.

“Ontario has no legal limit on the size of clearcuts which are permitted to flatten an area equivalent to 1,400 football fields each day in our province,” said Amber Ellis, Earthroots Executive Director, in a press release.

“Unless we are to believe that the CBI, David Suzuki Foundation, CPAWS and ForestEthics all under cut their own campaigns, this is only a part and parcel to set up a carbon market, and allow forest offsets to go alongside carbon offsets and further entrench false solutions to the climate crisis,” said Stainsby.

“We plan to turn this into a competitive advantage,” said Avram Lazer, the CEO of the Forest Products Association of Canada. “We think this sets the pattern that everyone should follow.”

Greenpeace spearheaded the deal, which was “in some ways” sponsored by the Pew and Ivey Foundations, according to Lazer.

The Pew foundation has already come under close scrutiny by activists because of their ties to large oil companies. The Ivey Foundation has been a prime backer of controversial BC environmentalist Tzeporah Berman’s organization Power Up.

Greenpeace and the NGOs have hung the entire native population of Canada out to dry. Clearcuts will still happen, but Canadians will have license to ignore them since their favorite enviros have declared that it’s all good. The voices of the trees, and of the bears, lynx, caribou etc. and the First Nations people who depend on the forests, cannot possibly scream louder than the thunderous applause being heaped on this deal by the corporate media. Those voices have been effectively silenced as the “Timber Wars” in Canada have been declared over.

And for what? So these Big Green groups can claim a “victory” to help drain the pockets of their “members” and also increase their income from corporate foundations? Or more ominously, is it to set a (literally) clear-cut precedent, a “prototype for forest conservation” in other areas of the world that could lead to complete corporate control of forest “conservation” in the Amazon, Congo, Taiga, Indonesia etc. within the next decade, shutting out any dissent by non-humans and those First Peoples who would speak on their behalf.

Shame on you, Greenpeace. Shame on you for putting out this video saying the Boreal Forest and all its creatures will be preserved FOREVER. That’s a 10,000 hectare whopper, the size of an Ontario clearcut.

We’d like to take the honor right now of saying on this blog for the first time: Cancel your GP membership. They do not deserve one red cent of any environmentalist’s money. They predictably make it kind of hard to do, and one can’t do it online. Call 1-800-326-0959 Mon – Fri 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST and give them your info and tell them to cancel it. Make sure to tell them why. (202) 462-1177 is the number for their staff offices in DC, make sure to call them too and talk to them all about Greenwashing, their complicity in it, the FSC, the futility of lobbying Congress, and any other concerns you may have.

Here’s the excellent article from VMC if you haven’t read it yet.

News Roundup 5/20

20 May

Greenpeace UK made BP a new flag. The coolest part is, they’re still taking suggestions for other new BP flags.

The Oil Spill is now leaking between 76,000 and 104,000 barrels per day. That’s a pretty wide range of guessing, but it makes sense considering the authorities have no idea what they’re gonna do about it. The damn oil will be in the Atlantic soon. And Congress thinks BP is using the wrong dispersant. Oh well. Maybe Kevin Costner will save us.

Good video here of a Maine EF!er on trial. He was supposed to be the police liaison.

Also from Maine, they’ve just posted directions to this year’s Rendezvous. There’s also the beginnings of a ride board, but no one’s posted anything yet.

The Sea Lion Defense Brigade has wrapped up their campaign and is claiming success. Congrats to them for keeping a close eye on the State’s insane plan to kill 64 California sea lions this year. They only actually killed 10.

In other pinniped news, the Navy is using sea lions to sniff out bombs. Props to Earth Island Institute for trying at least to tell them what they’re doing is wrong.

And last week RAN locked down at Cargill HQ in Minnesota. The video isn’t very good, and they’re still a bunch of compromisers on board with the FSC. Which by the way, was a good idea gone horribly wrong.

In other big enviro news, big green groups and corporations have reached an agreement to better manage a whole bunch of acres of Canada’s Boreal forest. Seems to reek of compromise. We’ll see if logging up there is slowed significantly, or if the forest will continue to disappear.

Climate Ground Zero is still busy, speaking out at a public hearing on what could be the largest mine in WV history. Two of their road blockaders still need our help to get their bail reduced.

ScienceDaily uses the Asian shore crab to make the dangerous point that maybe invasive species aren’t all bad.

And scientists at the Craig Venter Institute have created the first synthetic living cell. Next up: synthetic meat, coming to fast food joint near you.