Roy Keene is a public interest forester with 40 years of experience in the West. “Forestry,” Roy says, “Is a calling, art, and science, not just the business of logging. True foresters have historically been keepers and protectors of forests, not industrial hirelings.” His activism began with helping to reduce herbicides on Southern Oregon’s federal forests in 1972.
To restore the public’s forests and forest resources, Roy believes that forestry must first be restored to it’s noble calling and held separate from political and monetary bias. To this end, he’s worked with citizen foresters, environmentalists, progressive politicians, tribal elders, educators, reporters, filmmakers, progressive industrial foresters and loggers, enlightened district rangers, and many private forest owners across eight western states.
In 1990, Roy founded and directed the Public Forestry Foundation, a nonprofit volunteer group of public interest foresters and scientists with a mission to restore public forestry. PFF’s cadre conducted in-the-forest workshops that empowered the efforts of 3500 citizens working with federal managers in 28 western national forests. Labeled "forest peacemakers" by the Oregonian newspaper, PFF pioneered bringing adversarial groups together in the woods to seek reforms. They worked with public forest managers to design many "new forestry" pilot projects in Montana, Idaho, Washington, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon, and California.
Roy helped conceptualize and implement the first federal ecosystem management strategy for the 60,000-acre Fort Lewis Forest in Washington; the first sustainable forestry certification system for the 90,000-acre Collins Forest in Northern California; and the Region's first low-impact fuel reduction operation on the Umatilla Reservation in NE Oregon.
Roy received the Wilderness Society’s “Environmental Hero” award for being the point person in establishing two heavily timbered wilderness areas in Southern Oregon: Boulder Creek and the Rogue-Umpqua Divide. He argued for forestry reform on Bill Moyer's “Listening To America,” Day One's “Timber Theft,” and PBS’s "Critical Habitat.” He co-produced an award winning educational film "Forests For The Future.” Roy has toured and influenced many politicians, including the late Jim Jontz, Peter DeFazio, Ron Wyden, and George Miller.
A consummate activist, Roy put yew tree wastage in Idaho on national television as a women's health issue; worked with the legendary Martin Litton to shut down wasteful logging in the Sequoia National Forest; publicly illuminated bogus salvage logging in the Sierras, and revealed fraudulent public forest land exchanges in the Northwest. When the spotted owl plaintiffs gave away old growth to maintain "access" to Clinton's administration, Roy and his foresters ground truthed and exposed the 54 wasteful timber sales on which these groups signed off.
Roy continues to place provocative critiques, radio talks, and editorials on timely forest issues. Impatient with the forest conservation movement's lethargy, he works to bring politically unpopular but vital issues, like industrial forest liquidation, timber tax subsidies and rampant log exports to public and political attention.
Samantha defies categorization. It’s difficult to say whether she is Eugene’s most overutilized or most underutilized human resource. She is a fiercely determined yet exceptionally adaptable scientist, researcher, writer, speaker, organizer, activist, gardener, and artist. She designed and maintains this website. In addition to website work, research, and fundraising, she coordinates communications and outreach. She has observed timber sales and pilot projects throughout Oregon and has more than a decade of organizing and media experience, mostly in Oregon, where she has lived since 2002. Samantha received an Organizer Award from the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation in 2009 and a scholarship to attend the Oregon Women’s Campaign School in 2010.
Regarding her forest advocacy and activism, Samantha attempted to stop logging in the Kalmiopsis Roadless Areas (known as the Blackberry and Mike’s Gulch timber sales) following the 2002 Biscuit Fire. Samantha co-organized the 2008 Clearcutting the Climate conference in Eugene, the first in Oregon focusing on the climate impacts of logging. Samantha received training from Pesticide Action Network-North America to test for pesticide drift and trained members of Oregon Pesticide Action Working Group, as well as attracting attention to the devastating impact of Rough & Ready on the adjacent Camp Forest, a demonstration project for the practice of ecostry, in Selma, OR. Her experience with rural, timber-dominated communities also extends to Tillamook County. In 2007, as a student in Community Planning Workshop at the University of Oregon, she helped facilitate public involvement in updating Tillamook's 20-year Vision Plan and managed the data analysis and reporting for the project.
In 2007-2009, she organized a diverse coalition of well-funded and grassroots environmental organizations that stopped the Bush Administration and Bureau of Land Management's Western Oregon Plan Revisions (WOPR). She co-produced the DVD “Boom, Bust, & the BLM,” presented in locations across Western Oregon, and served as the media liaison for the urban treesit in Salem. She lobbied about the WOPR on Capitol Hill as part of PowerShift 2009, achieving national attention to old growth logging and clearcutting in the Pacific Northwest as a major source of CO2 emissions by the U.S. Around the same time, Samantha organized hikes and garbage pickup in Eugene’s precious Amazon Creek Headwaters Forest, which has been and remains threatened by development.
She has since worked to stop old growth logging in the McKenzie Watershed (Trapper timber sale in particular), the source of Eugene's drinking water. The McKenzie Ranger District canceled its proposed Certification Thin immediately following an action camp, rally, and ground-truthing with media coverage that Samantha co-organized. In 2010, Chirillo successfully organized the public to urge Lane County Commissioners to object to the privatization of State old growth parcels in the McKenzie and Long Tom watersheds and got the first media hits exposing the State's sale of 12,000 acres of Common School Fund public old growth forestlands. While most of this acreage already has been sold to the timber industry and ravaged, 800 acres are currently threatened in Southern Oregon.
Samantha has been one of the first to sound the early warning about the threat of biomass energy to our old growth, soil, and water. In 2007, Samantha wrote an amendment to Oregon's Renewable Portfolio Standard and managed to get large lobby groups involved, achieving some change to the wording about forest biomass. She organized opposition to Sen. Ron Wyden’s Eastside bill to massively increase logging and forest biomass extraction (exemplified by projects like EXF) and lobbied against the bill on Capitol Hill in July 2010 alongside other biomass incineration opponents from across the U.S. She has organized two panels on biomass incineration at the 2007 and 2011 Public Interest Environmental Law Conferences.
Samantha helped stop the bill that would have fast-tracked destructive liquefied natural gas pipelines in 2008 and helped to achieve passage of phaseout legislation as Coordinator of the Campaign to End Field Burning in 2009 in the Oregon legislature. Samantha’s Master’s degree research on nonherbicidal weed control by city parks personnel spanned five Western states. In 2010, she completed the report, “Going Local in Globalized Economy,” based on her interviews of Southern Willamette Valley Bean & Grain Project farmers and others in the Southern Willamette Valley food system about the need to refocus the local economy on food and stop trade agreements that hurt the local economy. Since then, she has been involved in stopping genetically modified crops from taking hold in Oregon. She believes that her farm and forestry work are a natural combination, connected by their impacts on water, soil, and wildlife.
Samantha currently sits on the elected boards of the national Biomass Opponents Network, League of Wilderness Defenders, and Eugene-Springfield Solidarity Network/Jobs with Justice. She is also currently a co-director of Ecosystem Advocates Northwest (formerly known as Cascadia's Ecosystem Advocates) with Shannon Wilson. Samantha has applied for and received grants for various projects from State Farm, Fund for Wild Nature, Astrov Fund, Oregon Country Fair Board, and Eugene Water & Electric Board. She has recruited filmmakers Tim Lewis, Trip Jennings, and Erik Silverberg to highlight various environmental threats at key campaign points.
Samantha has worked for or with a variety of other organizations, including Eugene neighborhood associations, GMO-Free Eugene, Industrial Workers of the World, Civil Liberties Defense Center, the American Civil Liberties Union, Action Plan Eugene, Oregon Fair Trade Campaign, Northwest Institute for Community, Energy Action Coalition, Students of Land Air Water, UO Outdoor Program, Center for the Advancement of Sustainable Living, Eugene Permaculture Guild, Citizens for Public Accountability, Coalition Against Environmental Racism, Deer Creek Association, Coast Range Association, Forest Web, the Western Environmental Law Center, Colombia Riverkeeper, Sierra Club, Cascadia Wildlands, Pitchfork Rebellion, Oregon Pesticide Action Working Group, Beyond Toxics (formerly Oregon Toxics Alliance), the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides, Sustainable Forestry Network, Cascadia Forest Defenders, and Cascadia Rising Tide.
Samantha received her Master’s degree in Biology (2005) and Master of Public Administration degree and Nonprofit Certificate (2009) from the University of Oregon, taking courses in climate change, environmental economics, environmental conflict resolution, nonprofit law, policy development, public budgets, planning, and data analysis. She received her B.S. in Microbiology with a Minor in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Pennsylvania State University (main campus) in 2000 and worked in biomedical research for eight years, publishing two peer-reviewed articles. As continuing education, Samantha completed Community Emergency Response Team certification by the City of Eugene in 2011 and Climate Master certification by the Climate Leadership Initiative in 2007. She completed the “Building Farmers in the West” farm financial management course, offered by Oregon State University, in 2011 and is currently taking the series of workshops offered by Harry MacCormack at Sunbow Farm.
Samantha believes in looking at the big picture and recognizing the interconnectedness of things. She believes that human civilization as it exists currently is likely to end in her lifetime as the result of any number of likely catastrophes or combinations thereof and that this end is likely to be painful, given the current trajectory. However, she also believes that this end could open up some important positive opportunities, for ourselves, for our species, and for other species. Forest conservation, currently fairing poorly due to corporate control of forests and forest managers, is of critical importance to maintaining the water and soil resources on which our local food security and very survival depends. Genetically modified crops, trees, and other organisms in the open environment are a great threat to our short- and long-term security and must be stopped.
Today, Samantha is wiser for her activism. After having male colleagues get tasered and their heads bashed against the ground by Eugene Police, after lengthy court battles regarding these matters, Samantha urges people to know their rights, exercise their First Amendment rights, and record themselves and law enforcement on videocamera. She urges activists to take care of themselves and be responsible about their personal finances. To help others, we must put on our own oxygen masks first.