October 19, 2012

Earthrise Summer Externs See the Real Oregon

10/19/12 - Liv Brumfield, Earthrise summer extern 2012, writes about the externs’ field trip to Ochoco National Forest in Eastern Oregon where they got a taste of the real-world impacts of environmental law.

10/19/12 - This July, I went hiking and camping with my boss and client. Seriously.

One of my projects this summer was to write an administrative appeal of a proposed timber sale in Eastern Oregon. The sale is to take place in the Ochoco National Forest – an area already devastated by decades of past logging. It’s a truly beautiful area, rich in biodiversity and teeming with history. This is real Oregon at its finest.

Earthrise Managing Attorney Tom Buchele and I had driven to Prineville to meet with our client, Karen Coulter of the Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project, and the Forest Service for an informal appeal resolution meeting. It was my first-ever such meeting. The Forest Service is required by statute to hold these; they are great opportunities for the agency and appellants to resolve some significant differences.

Then, Karen took us out into the Forest to show us some of the units proposed for sale.  This was not just a drive-through tour; this was a hike into the forest, a crouch-down to look at animal tracks, an examination of plant groupings. We learned about the different types of conifers, indicator species, sensitive plants, tropical songbirds, and the difference that a hillslope or north-facing exposure can make in soil condition. We saw the actual markings on the trees and noted the surrounding forest conditions. We got to see – up close and personal – the forests we fought to defend. Yet again, Earthrise threw me into the mix and pulled me out into the light.

We camped overnight in the forest – delighted by Karen’s homemade blueberry wine and Tom’s delicious berry pie – and went out for another tour the next day. Until this weekend my work on the appeal felt very meaningful, but still slightly removed. I had never been to the forests of Eastern Oregon. But after walking amongst the trees and wildlife I had written to defend, I was totally invigorated. This is good work that Earthrise does, and I’m proud to be a part of it. 

-Liv Brumfield, Earthrise summer extern 2012

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