In a SADDENING turn of events, a 22-year-old protester died after she fell from one of the remaining treesits at Eagle Creek. Only one week earlier, pressured by Sen. Ron Wyden and five years of protests by activists, the U.S. Forest Service cancelled the sale of timber from Eagle Creek. Located in the solemn foothills of the Cascade Mountains, Eagle Creek is adjacent to the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness. Environmentalists have focused on this area, saying the 2000-acre spread is critical to several wildlife species and a massive watershed that serves much of the northern Willamette Valley.

In a somber press release, Cascadia Forest Alliance (CFA)--the organization which has been at the center of the Eagle Creek protests--explained that Beth O'Brien and two other activists snowshoed several miles into heart of Eagle Creek. Although it was announced that the timber sale has been canceled, CFA has publicly expressed skepticism. They planned to maintain several treesits until a binding contract terminating the sale had been signed.

"At 7 p.m.," reads the press release from CFA, "after climbing to a height of 150 feet, Beth fell from a rope ladder between platforms. She did not use a safety connection that was available. She survived the impact. Emergency services were called by cell phone immediately. First responders did not arrive on the scene until two and a half hours later. She was pronounced dead upon examination."

In an effort to provide context for O'Brien's death, the release went on to say, "We view Beth's death in a tradition of courageous action to defend life that extends through decades of nonviolent protest in the US and abroad."

This tragedy comes only six months after another protester fell from a treesit. In that instance, an activist was perched in a tree to protest logging practices in God's Valley State Forest, when the Oregon Department of Forestry cut the branch right out from beneath him. He managed to leap to a nearby tree, where he was hounded by state officials for the next 36 hours. Finally, after a day and a half without food and sleep, he passed out and plummeted 60 feet to the ground. The protester broke his arm and pelvis in the fall.

Friends described O'Brien as persistent and relentlessly cheerful.