The Pinyon-Juniper Alliance was formed several years ago to protect Pinyon-Pine and Juniper forests from destruction under the BLM’s and Forest Service’s misguided “restoration” plan. Since that time, we have attended public meetings, organized petitions, talked with politicians and locals, coordinated with other groups, written articles and given presentations, and commented on public policy.
Things now are worse than ever. The latest project we’ve seen aims to remove PJ forest from more than 130,000 acres of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. That’s more than 200 square miles in one project.
Everywhere we go, we see juniper trees cut. Most recently, just this past weekend in Eastern Oregon, an entire mountainside was littered with chainsawed juniper trees. Earlier today, one of our organizers spoke with an elder from the Ely-Shoshone Tribe. She told us about two conversations she had with agency employees who referred to old pinyon-pines as “useless” trees that needed to be removed. She responded by saying “I wouldn’t be here without those trees,” and told them about the importance of pine nuts to Great Basin indigenous people.
And still the mass destruction continues.
However, looming behind these atrocities is an even bigger threat. Due to global warming, drought is becoming almost continuous throughout most of the intermountain West. The possibility of a permanent dust bowl in the region appears increasingly likely as governments worldwide have done nothing to avert climate catastrophe.
Pinyon-Pine and Juniper are falling to the chainsaw. However, they have been able to survive the saws of men for two hundred years. It is unlikely they will be able to survive two hundred years of unabated global warming.
The biggest threat to Pinyon-Juniper forests isn’t chainsaws or the BLM. The biggest threat is the continuation of industrial civilization, which is leading to climate meltdown. Stopping industrial civilization would limit this threat, and would also stop the flow of fossil fuels that powers the ATVs and Masticators and Chainsaws currently decimating Pinyon-Juniper forests.
Derrick Jensen has said that often people who start out trying to protect a certain forest or meadow end up questioning the foundations of western civilization. We have undergone this process ourselves.
Given our limited time, energy, and resources, our responsibility is to focus on what we see as the larger threats. Therefore, the founders of the Pinyon-Juniper Alliance have turned to focus on revolutionary work aimed at overturning the broader “culture of empire” and the global industrial economy that powers it. We are not leaving the PJ struggle behind. If you are engaged in this fight, please reach out to us. We need to network, share information, and work together to have a chance of success. We are shifting the form of our struggle. If this struggle is won, it will result in a world that Pinyon-Juniper forest can inhabit and spread across freely once again. And if it’s lost, our work at the local level is unlikely to matter. There are few revolutionaries in the world today, and we have a responsibility to do what is necessary.