Wednesday, September 03, 2014

French Pete Wilderness Protest November 18, 1969

After the Wilderness Act was passed in 1964 many people were visiting these unique areas and also surrounding areas that had not been included in the act.  French Pete was one valley that was not included in the Three Sisters Wilderness area and was found to be scheduled for clear cut logging in the near future.

With friends in Eugene I hiked and skied in this area in the late 1960s and, was involved with in what may have been the first public demonstration against national forest policy ever held. In Eugene, an estimated crowd of 1500, composed of students and faculty at the University of Oregon, community citizens and members of environmental groups marched to the headquarters of the Willamette National Forest. An Outdoor Program Common Adventure project called "Nature's Conspiracy" organized the rally.

Author Ken Kesey spoke briefly in support and entertainer Mason Williams gave a free concert later.

After the rally logging was temporarily delayed in the French Creek Valley while appeals were considered.

A Save French Pete Committee and other groups including the Friends of the Three Sisters Wilderness, the Oregon Conservation Council, the Eugene Natural History Society, and outdoor groups like the Obsidians and the Chemeketans kept fighting for Wilderness designation.

At the U.of O Outdoor program we also organized a public "Environmental Meetings" in 1971 and later to continue the dialogue about French Pete and similar Wilderness issues

 Nine Years later French Pete was added to the Three Sisters Wilderness system.

Do a Google Search for "Save French Pete Rally" to find news and historical articles.

Kevin R. Marsh in his book "Drawing lines in the forest: creating wilderness areas in the Pacific Northwest" provided this insight.

"The growing counterculture movement at the time lent support and participants to this this new era of wilderness protests.  Historian Roderick Nash noted in 1973,  'The environmental renaissance of the late1960s and early 1970s paralleled a deep-rooted questioning of established American values and institutions on the part of what some labeled the 'counterculture.' Wilderness and the idea of Wilderness played a key role in both social-intellectual movements.'  Protests in Eugene to preserve French Pete from logging gave that community a national reputation for environmental activism.  Bob Wazeka compared Eugene's role in the wilderness movement of the 1970s to the role of Paris as the center of the Western Literary World of the 1920s."

I also plan to post similar information about personal experiences I have had with the  1964 Wilderness Act issues as time permits.  The following are potential examples. 

  • Common Adventure Outdoor Program - University of Oregon 1967
  • Denali Clean Climbing and Cleanup 1970s
  • Wilderness Environmental Pursuits 1972
  • Cooperative Wilderness Adventures 1973-79
  • Wilderness Use Ethics Conference - 1974
  • Salmon River Cleanup - 1970s
  • Wilderness and Individual Freedom Conference 1976
  • Selway Bitteroot and River of No Return Wilderness Traverse 1979
  • Moonshadow - Total Eclipse of the Sun 1979
  • Canoe Expedition entire length of Salmon River in Idaho 1980
  • Owyhee Canyonlands video 1993
  • Visions of Wilderness video 1993
  • 360 degree interactive panoramas of Idaho Wilderness areas 2003- 2014
  • Google Earth and Map projects 2006-2016

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