by Sierra Club volunteer Joe Walicki
A Save French Pete reunion, which took place April 2nd and 3rd at the University of Oregon and sponsored by the Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club was a compete success. Leaders of the movement to save the French Pete valley, located on the western side of the Three Sisters Wilderness Area, met in Eugene to record their memories of that fierce battle to save the valley from logging in the 60’s and 70’s. It was the last low elevation timbered valley out of some 70 valley’s 10 miles or more in length in the Northwest that had not been logged by the timber industry. Such leaders as Brock Evans, Doug Scott, and Larry Williams recounted their struggles to rally the citizens to pressure the congressional delegation to enact legislation that would protect the valley and add it onto the Three Sisters Wilderness area.
The weekend started with a hike on the French Pete Trail with most of the leaders responsible for the valley’s protection (see photo). Even though it was wet and cold, all enjoyed getting to see the area they worked so hard to protect. The next day all the participants gathered in the U of O’s Law School to recount their efforts over the years and have the proceedings recorded for posterity. Major participants were: Jim Baker, McKenzie Guardians; Ron Eber, former Sierra Club Oregon Chapter Chair; Brock Evans, former Sierra Club NW Rep; Maradel Gale, founder of the Oregon Environmental Council; Jonathan Hoffman, lawyer and singer; Michael McCloskey, former executive director, Sierra Club; Roger Mellem, former U of O student who organize a Save French Pete rally;
Doug Scott, former NW Rep, Sierra Club; Zane Smith, former forest supervisor, Willamette National Forest; Pete Sorenson, former aid to Congressman Jim Weaver; Gary Tepfer, local Eugene activists; Joe Walicki, former NW Rep, The Wilderness Society; Jim Weaver, former congressman, 4th District; Gerald Williams, former historian, US Forest Service; and Larry Williams, former executive director, Oregon Environmental Council.
The effort of these individuals and 100’s of activists all over the state, culminated in the passage of the Endangered American Wilderness Act of 1978, protecting some 1.3 million acres as wilderness through out the west under the Wilderness Act of 1964. French Pete Creek addition, along with Rebel and Walker Creeks, added 45,400 acres to the Three Sisters Wilderness Area. An epic battle successfully concluded.
A 60 to 90 minute video summary of the weekend will be available in the near future. Contact Joe Walicki at email@example.com for details.