May 25-28: Heartwood Forest Council

Heartwood is a regional network of public forest defense and advocacy grassroots organizations, with member groups in most states where the Eastern Hardwood forests once covered majestic and wild, from the Ozarks to the Appalachians. Each year Heartwood hosts two regional scale events, one held annually over the Memorial Day weekend in a different state each year. This year Heartwood’s 22nd Annual Forest Council will be hosted by the Allegheny Defense Project (ADP), and held at Camp Olmstead (316 4th Ave., Warren, PA 16365).  This weekend conference will focus on the how-to and what-next of state and national forest protection.  Marcellus threats in PA and NY are among the many threats in the Appalachian region, and share many parallels with the Mountaintop Removal fight in southern West Virginia where the Forest Council was held last year, or with lead mining in Missouri’s Mark Twain National Forest where Heartwood also has member organizations. Biomass incineration for electric power is a particular threat to our forests and farm soils alike, but discussions of scale come into particular focus on this topic. We want to build on the work done at APIEL and other recent regional conferences, and provide a forum to build momentum in these grassroots movements. Networking across this region has proven to be an effective tool in forest protection, and we are reaching out to you to strengthen that network in the face of these new threats because you already share a part of this movement to build a new vision.

This year’s theme is drawn from the nature of the major threats to our forest region, and explores their impact on both rural and urban life ways. Marcellus drilling, the Seneca bid to take management of the Kinzua Dam Hydro power rights, coal, solar and wind issues, all suggest that we think deeper about energy production and consumption in our society and our daily life, as we prepare to reclaim the structures that have led to such tremendous inequity around the globe. The primary focus or goal of the weekend is to share skills and provide training for activist Forest Watch, and coordinate local and regional forest protection and advocacy. Speakers this year will include Thomas Buchele, the Clinical Professor of Law and Managing Attorney, Pacific Environmental Advocacy Center ("PEAC") at Lewis and Clarke Law School who has fought for the protection of public lands for more than 25 years. Past attendees and featured speakers have included Woody Harrelson and US Congress Representative Cynthia McKinney (D-GA), both champions of public forest protection among the hundreds and dozens who stop timber sales every day with letters, appeals, litigation and direct action.

One of the outcomes from the Forest Watch agenda in the program is a monthly Pittsburgh outing to Marcellus permit sites on nearby state forests, game lands, and parks, monitoring and commenting on the Permit from the beginning of the process, and alternating regular meetings with day-trip outings to collect on-the-ground data, and rescuing some of the plants from these threatened sites. Volunteers with computer mapping skills will be needed to incorporate data into strategic and interactive formats.

More information and a solicitation for participating organizations can be found here.  If you are interested in hosting a workshop topic or have any questions about Heartwood or the upcoming Forest Council, please contact HW Board Member and Pittsburgh contact Matt Peters at 412-320-0739 or .

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