A regular Wednesday guest lecture on campus became an anti-logging protest when a group of activists shut down a talk given by Tyler Freres of Freres Lumber.
Freres, a third-generation logger, came to the University of Oregon law school to talk about his company and the benefits of the post-fire logging practices his company employs. Freres and his company hope to salvage the land that was burnt following the 2020 Summer Oregon wildfires, particularly the Holiday Farm Fire.
During his justification of post-fire logging, Freres explained that the logging benefits the ecosystem.
When an audience member brought up a scientific study that proves just the opposite, Freres hastily deemed the study inaccurate and “political.”
The reality is that post fire-logging causes extreme harm to the recuperation of a forest after a burn. There is no substantive evidence that post-fire logging benefits a forest’s ecosystem.
Rather, scientific data indicates a heightened fire risk for logged areas while “hindering forest regeneration and restoration by compacting soils, damaging riparian corridors, introducing and spreading invasive species, causing erosion, adding sediment to streams, degrading water quality, and removing trees utilized for habitat.”https://sierraforestlegacy.org/FC_FireForestEcology/FFE_SalvageLoggingScience.php
Local activists took to the scene by staging a covert demonstration. Approximately 40 minutes into Freres’s talk, one activist spoke out with a question regarding environmental concerns.
Before Freres could answer, several more activists began bombarding Freres with questions. A staggering majority of attendees were there to protest, quickly drowning out opposition.
Activists who had come prepared with signs stood up and began leading a chant.
Chants included, but were not limited to:
“No more lies! Quit your corporate ties!”
“Forest defense is climate defense!”
And perhaps most poignant, “Quit your job!”
As quickly as the protest began, event organizers began trying to shut it down. One individual was calling for all students to leave while shoving her camera in peoples’ faces. Her attitude and flagrant use of a cell phone camera evoked a particular Karen energy.
All the while Freres is silent, blocked by an entourage to shield him from further interaction.Once the scene was made activists dispersed and left the building, told that security had been called. Students were also told that if they put their real email on the sign-up sheet that they would likely be reprimanded, as demonstrations are required to be cleared in advance.
If activists had not shut down Freres’s talk, he would have continued to spread misinformation and greenwash the lumber industry.
His claim that post-fire logging is needed for the recovery of a forest is baseless and rooted in the capitalistic desire to take advantage of disaster.