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May19

Court Order: Washington Must Give Public Notice Before Killing Wolves

smackoutFor Immediate Release, May 18, 2018

Contact: Nick Cady, (314) 482-3746, nick@cascwild.org

Court Agreement: Washington Will Give Public Notice Before Killing Wolves 

Eight-hour Warning Could Permit Judge to Halt Slaughter Plans

OLYMPIA, Wash.— Washington wildlife officials will have to give eight business hours of notice before killing wolves in the state, under a new agreement reached today in Thurston County Superior Court.

Judge Chris Lanese ruled from the bench today that a challenge by the Center for Biological Diversity and Cascadia Wildlands of a kill order for the Sherman Pack in Washington was moot because the agency had already destroyed the pack. 

But Judge Lanese emphasized that the issues raised by the lawsuit were of great public importance and deserved to be fully evaluated. To that end, the judge obtained a commitment from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to provide public notice before killing wolves, ensuring the conservation groups have a chance to stop any killing.

The judge suggested that such a request for emergency relief was extremely likely to be granted, to prevent the state from killing wolves before there is a chance to have a court rule on the full merits of the claim.

“We’re deeply saddened by the loss of the Sherman Pack, but this new public notice agreement could save other Washington wolves,” said Amaroq Weiss, west coast wolf advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The pack’s dissolution is exactly what you’d expect if you kill pack members. State officials need to realize that recklessly killing wolves is totally unacceptable given the still fragile recovery of these important animals.”

The groups’ suit challenged the agency’s August 25, 2017 order authorizing killing of members of the Sherman pack. At the time of the kill order, the Sherman pack consisted of only two wolves. The state killed one Sherman wolf on September 1, 2017.

“We don’t like that a state endangered wolf was killed and a pack lost, but we’re glad we’re going to get our concerns with the Department’s wolf management heard,” said Nick Cady, legal director for Cascadia Wildlands. “The science increasingly shows that killing wolves isn’t an effective means to address livestock loss and the public doesn’t want it.”

Overall, since 2012, the state has killed 18 state-endangered wolves, nearly 15 percent of the state’s current confirmed population of 122 wolves. The judge noted that fifteen of the wolves killed since 2012 were killed on behalf of the same livestock owner; those kills have now led to the eradication of three entire wolf packs, including the Sherman Pack last summer, Profanity Peak pack in 2016, and the Wedge pack in 2012. The rancher in question has been a vocal opponent of wolf recovery and has historically refused to implement meaningful nonlethal measures designed to protect his livestock from wolves.

Washington’s wolves were driven to extinction in the early 1900s by a government-sponsored eradication program on behalf of the livestock industry. The animals began to return from neighboring Idaho and British Columbia in the early 2000s, and their population has grown to 22 confirmed packs as of the end of 2017.

But wolf recovery in Washington is still a work in progress. Wolves remain absent from large areas of the state, and although the population has been growing, it remains small and vulnerable. Given the continued endangered status of wolves, conservation groups are urging the state and livestock operators to stick to nonlethal methods as the sole means for reducing loss of livestock to wolves.

Photo of Smackout Wolf Courtesy of Western Wildlife Outreach

May16

Quartz Timber Sale Challenged Over Impacts to Red Tree Voles!

For Immediate Release, May 16, 2018

Contact:

Nick Cady, Cascadia Wildlands, (314) 482-3746

Doug Heiken, Oregon Wild, (541) 344-0675

Reed Wilson, Benton Forest Coalition, (541) 754-3254                      

Timber Sale Targeting Mature Forests East of Cottage Grove Challenged in Court

Proposed Logging Would Eliminate Seventy-Five Red Tree Vole Nests

RTV 1EUGENE, Ore.— Today, three conservation groups challenged the 847-acre Quartz timber sale on the Cottage Grove Ranger District of the Umpqua National Forest that targets mature forests. The contested area is home to a thriving population of red tree voles, a small tree-dwelling mammal that is a prey source for the imperiled northern spotted owl and is critical to forest ecosystems in western Oregon.

“It is incredibly disappointing to again witness the Forest Service targeting mature forests to solely benefit private timber interests,” said Nick Cady, legal director at Cascadia Wildlands. “The Quartz timber sale is a clear example of the Forest Service’s pursuit of commercial timber at the expense of all the other public values this agency is required to protect.”

The red tree vole is a unique tree-dwelling species that inhabits mature and old-growth forests throughout much of western Oregon. Extensive red tree vole habitat has been destroyed by aggressive logging in Oregon’s Coast and Cascade Ranges. In 2011, the US Fish and Wildlife Service found that the species warranted listing under the federal Endangered Species Act, but declined to extend those protections in part due to regulatory protections on public federal forest lands.  Yet, in 2016, the Bureau of Land Management, which manages interspersed public lands in western Oregon eliminated protections for the species across 2.5-million acres of public forests it oversees.

“The red tree vole is already in a precarious position given the historic logging that occurred in Oregon over the past century,” said Nick Cady.  “And the recent elimination of protections for this species on BLM lands in Oregon places its future in jeopardy. The Forest Service must do all it can to ensure its survival and cancel reckless timber sales like Quartz.”

RTV 3In its initial planning efforts for the Quartz timber sale, the Forest Service surveys documented little red tree vole activity and determined that the forests slated for logging were not good habitat.  Subsequent surveys conducted by volunteers with the Northwest Ecosystem Survey Team and verification surveys by the Forest Service resulted in seventy-five vole nest detections.  Despite this information, the Forest Service decided to proceed with the sale and destroy the vole nest sites.

"Red tree voles are closely linked with northern spotted owls,” said Reed Wilson with Benton Forest Coalition. “They have similar habitat requirements: old trees with cavities, structural defects and massive limbs suitable for nesting – exactly the kind of trees located throughout the Quartz timber sale by the Northwest Ecosystem Survey Team."

RTV 2 “The Forest Service seems determined to proceed with logging these beautiful forests regardless of the diligent efforts of citizens to document the presence of rare wildlife. First, the Forest Service said there were too few red tree voles to warrant protection. Later, the Forest Service said there were too many voles to warrant protection,” said Doug Heiken, conservation and restoration coordinator at Oregon Wild. “The poor red tree vole just can’t catch a break.”

This case is being brought by the Benton Forest Coalition, Cascadia Wildlands, and Oregon Wild.

The filed complaint can be found here.

Red tree vole photos courtesy of Northwest Ecosystem Survey Team.

Apr30

Blog: Old Growth Timber Grab on the North Umpqua

Lone Rock's right-of-way marked to cut.

Lone Rock's right-of-way marked to cut.

by Gabe Scott, In-house Counsel
 
Lone Rock Timber and BLM, shame on you.  
 
In what looks like a classic timber grab, Lone Rock Timber has demanded rights to log a swath of huge old-growth trees on public, BLM land. Claiming they need a road to access a part of one of their active clearcuts, Lone Rock marked to cut a wide swath of public old growth, and BLM rubber stamped it. 
 
The context is that legacy of frontier land fraud—the checkerboard O&C timberlands. This particular travesty is located up Susan Creek off of the famed North Umpqua River east of Roseburg. The area is naturally spectacular, but the backcountry above the river is largely a giant tree farm for corporate forestry. Every other square-mile section is owned by BLM, the rest by private timberland owners, in a checkerboard pattern. All of it is managed for forestry, and most of it has been clearcut. 
 
The private owners are logging now on a forty-year rotation. 
 
The forest on the chopping block is a 70-150 ft wide swath — about 4 acres — through the kind of ancient forest we dream about. Right up against truly savage clearcuts a mile-square and more, the public stand remains a deep, dark, ancient forest. It’s the sort that, when a grouse hoots, it carries and echoes in that haunting way. My mind longs for a wolf, or at least an eagle or even a raven to call, but none does. This cathedral is an island in a sea of clearcuts. 
IMG_3402
 
I counted at least fifteen giant old growth trees marked to cut within Lone Rock's claimed right-of-way. Fifteen great big mothers, some of whom probably beat Columbus to America. 
 
That’s giving benefit of the doubt on every marked boundary tree, many of which were themselves ancient. And that’s not mentioning the snags, and the many old-but-not-ancient trees, and the gorgeous madrones and great big alders and unexpected, emerald-green meadows. 
 
And in return, Lone Rock accesses a tiny sliver of plantation abutting that beautiful stand. I counted rings on one typical stump —yep, forty on the nose. 
 
Lone Rock and BLM claim they have the legal right to do this because they want a wide road and big turnaround to more easily access one of their active plantation clearcutting units. There is a rock outcrop, they say. It’s hard to get around with these new machines, they say. 
 
Big hole in their story—the trees they can’t get to, they were able to get to to clearcut forty years ago. That’s how it’s plantation now. 
 
Further investigation by intrepid sleuths uncovered Lone Rock sharing maps of existing roads to the very stand.
 
I visited the site last Thursday and what I saw was a company going hogwild, clearcutting the snot out of a hillside, having no trouble at all yanking the cut trees onto trucks to haul to market. I saw these roads with my own eyes. I listened to their machines work all day tearing up the hill just below the stand they say they can’t access. 
 
IMG_3405How a logging company that logged a stand forty years ago thinks they can’t do it today is an interesting story. If you wonder where the logging jobs went, here's your answer. 
 
Forty years ago they had cable yarders and tractors and skylines and choker setters and fallers who would scramble around the hill in cork boots to do the job. 
 
Now it's done by a couple guys pulling levers in air-conditioned boxs. Logging by machine is more profitable. What used to take a crew now only takes one. 
 
Progress!
 
The public accommodates that job-killing mechanization by letting them plough more and more roads through our old-growth reserves. But sure, go ahead, blame the spotted owl for economic trouble in timber country. 
 
Lone Rock's clearcut in fore-ground, BLM land up the hill. The stand just above the parked yarders is the plantation Lone Rock claims they can't access.

Lone Rock's clearcut in fore-ground, BLM land up the hill. The stand just above the parked yarders is the plantation Lone Rock claims they can't access.

Lone Rock can cry us a river about access to their land. 
 
Those very same right-of-way agreements lock us, the public, out of accessing our land. The deal is so slanted that even BLM employees in the field couldn’t take a spur to a nice spot for a picnic—they can only drive the roads when they are working on a logging project.
 
They say this is just the way it is, but that answer is not good enough for us.  
 
Cascadia and other local activists have been dogging this outrageous proposal. We're doing what we can to save this forest, but honestly it is an uphill fight. Presence of spotted owls, wet weather, better access in other ways… none of it seems to matter at all to them. We've implored BLM officials directly, but they claim their hands are tied by reciprocal right-of-way agreements.
 
We hold out hope that Lone Rock will do the right thing and log their trees the old fashioned way. But, if the best we can get out of this situation is to learn a lesson, then lets learn the lessons. 
 
The lesson is that BLM's interpretation of these reciprocal right of way agreements on tens of thousands of acres of public and private forestry land amounts to a blank check for private logging companies. All the careful forest planning BLM does, can be undone in a moment at the whim of a logging company who claims they want to build a road. The situation is rich with potential for fraud, and BLM is uninterested in policing it. 
 
The sad legacy of the O&C land frauds continues. 
 
(All photos of the contested area by Cascadia Wildlands)
 
 
 
 
Apr16

Press Release: WA Fish and Wildlife Commission Orders Rulemaking to Require Permits for Suction Dredge Mining

For immediate release
April 14, 2018
Contact: Gabe Scott, In-House Counsel (907) 491-0856; gscott@cascwild.org
 
Olympia, WA — A milestone for aquatic health was achieved today when the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission unanimously ordered the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to initiate a rulemaking process that would require individual permits for suction dredge mining in the state.
 
Suction dredge mining has become controversial throughout the West due to its impacts on aquatic ecosystems and salmon health. The practice requires the use of a motorized, floating dredge to vacuum up the streambed as miners look for gold flecks. Science has show that the process destabilizes the streambed environment, releasing plumes of silt and mercury and harming fish.
 
“Today’s vote is a significant victory for salmon and river health in the Evergreen State,” said Gabriel Scott, In-House Counsel for Cascadia Wildlands, who provided testimony in advance of the Commission’s vote. “The Commission deserves a lot of credit and wisely recognized that Washington can’t afford to keep giving suction dredge miners a free pass as they suck up our rivers in search of gold.”
 
Due to its impacts on watershed health, suction dredge mining has recently been reformed in neighboring states. California banned the practice in 2009 and earlier this year the US Supreme Court upheld the ban. In the 2017, the Oregon legislature outlawed the practice in key salmon waterways, and Idaho now requires stricter permitting to better protect its rivers.
 
Prior to today’s vote, Washington allowed suction dredge mining to occur without a permit.  However, the state still allows the practice to occur in designated critical habitat for Endangered Species Act-listed salmon and trout. Rivers important to salmon recovery, like the Nooksack, Peshastin, Methow and Wenatchee, have been hit hard by the practice.
 
“While today’s vote was a positive step forward, the state must make sure that adequate protections are put into place to ensure salmon and our rivers are protected from the impacts of suction dredge mining,” Scott added.
 
Cascadia Wildlands’ current lawsuit, Cascadia Wildlands vs. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, was mentioned often in the Commission’s deliberations today, and the issues addressed by the Commission mirror the claims of the litigation. The lawsuit is currently pending in Washington Superior Court in Thurston County, and it is set for oral hearing in Olympia on July 6.
 
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Apr04

Press Release: Trapping Ban Sought to Protect Imperiled Humboldt Marten

For Immediate Release, April 4, 2018

Contacts:    
Nick Cady, Cascadia Wildlands, (314) 482-3746, nick@cascwild.org
Tierra Curry, Center for Biological Diversity, (928) 522-3681, tcurry@biologicaldiversity.org 

Coastal Trapping Ban Sought to Protect Oregon’s Vanishing Humboldt Martens

New Study Finds Traps Could Wipe Out Imperiled Otter Relative

PORTLAND, Ore.— Five conservation groups filed a rulemaking petition today asking the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to ban trapping of Humboldt martens in Oregon’s coastal forests. The petition follows a new study that found that trapping could easily wipe out the species in the state.

Humboldt martens are under review for federal Endangered Species Act protection, but they can still be trapped for their fur in Oregon even though fewer than 100 survive here in the Siuslaw and Siskiyou national forests. California banned the trapping of these secretive, mid-sized forest carnivores in 1946.

“Humboldt martens have been driven to the brink of extinction by logging and development of their old-growth forest habitat and historical over-trapping,” said Nick Cady, legal director at Cascadia Wildlands. “Banning trapping is a critical first step to prevent the imminent eradication of the species from the state.”

A newly published scientific study concluded that Humboldt martens are so rare in Oregon that trapping just two to three individuals could result in wiping out the population on the central coast. In addition to trapping, Humboldt martens are threatened by vehicle collisions on Highway 101 and ongoing logging of mature forest habitat.  

“The state needs to follow the new science and stop the trapping of these cute and ferocious animals,” said Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “It would be tragic if Humboldt martens were lost for future generations of Oregonians.”

Relatives of minks and otters, Humboldt martens are found only in old-growth forest and dense coastal shrub in southern and central coastal Oregon and northern California. The cat-like animals were thought to be extinct until they were rediscovered on the Six Rivers National Forest in 1996. 

Today they survive only in three small isolated populations of fewer than 100 individuals each — one in northern California, one straddling the border and one in the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.
 
There are two subspecies of Pacific martens in Oregon. Humboldt martens on the coast are critically imperiled, but interior martens from the Cascades and eastern mountain ranges are not imperiled. The petition seeks a ban on trapping west of Interstate 5. 

Today’s petition was filed by Cascadia Wildlands, the Center for Biological Diversity, Environmental Protection Information Center, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center and Oregon Wild. The department has 90 days to initiate rulemaking or deny the petition. 

Martens are typically 2 feet long and have large, triangular ears and a long tail. They eat small mammals, berries and birds and are eaten by larger mammals and raptors.

Cascadia Wildlands educates, agitates, and inspires a movement to protect and restore Cascadia's wild ecosystems. We envision vast old-growth forests, rivers full of wild salmon, wolves howling in the backcountry, and vibrant communities sustained by the unique landscapes of the Cascadia bioregion.
 

Mar17

Official 2017 Washington Wolf Count Released

out_5_wolf_trail_cam_t1140The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife released its official 2017 wolf count this past Friday.  You can find the report in full here, but fourteen wolves were killed by humans and the overall state population grew by just seven.  Concerns over high levels of human-caused wolf mortality are one of the reasons Cascadia Wildlands is challenging the state's "lethal protocol" that permits agency officials to kill wolves in response to livestock depredations. You can read more about that lawsuit here.

Mar12

Press Release: Endangered Species Protection Sought for California, Oregon Salamander Threatened by Logging

For Immediate Release, March 12, 2018
Contacts:      
Josh Laughlin, Cascadia Wildlands, (541) 844-8182, jlaughlin@cascwild.org
Jeff Miller, Center for Biological Diversity, (707) 604-7739, jmiller@biologicaldiversity.org
George Sexton, KS Wild, (541) 778-8120, gs@kswild.org
 
ASHLAND, Ore.— Conservation groups filed a federal petition for Endangered Species Act protection today for the Siskiyou Mountains salamander, a rare terrestrial salamander that lives in old-growth forests in the Klamath-Siskiyou region of southern Oregon and Northern California.
 
The salamander is threatened by federal land-agency plans to ramp up logging in southern Oregon.
 
“This highly specialized animal can’t adapt to logging, so it will be pushed to the brink of extinction without Endangered Species Act protection,” said Jeff Miller with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The salamander is a unique indicator species of forest health in the Siskiyou Mountains. It deserves immediate protection in the face of accelerated logging.”
 
“By eliminating the ‘survey and manage’ program that required timber planners to look for salamanders before logging their habitat, the Bureau of Land Management has put this rare species in further peril,” said George Sexton with KS Wild. “Increased logging of mature forests in the Applegate Valley could jeopardize the very survival of the salamander.”
 
The Siskiyou Mountains salamander (Plethodon stormi) is a long-bodied, short-limbed terrestrial salamander, brown in color with a sprinkling of white flecks. The species only lives in the Klamath-Siskiyou region of southern Oregon and Northern California; it has the second-smallest range of any western Plethodontid salamander. Its best habitat is stabilized rock talus in old-growth forest, especially areas covered with thick moss. Mature forest canopy helps maintain a cool and stable moist microclimate.
 
“We have to ensure this unique salamander doesn’t blink out of existence,” said Josh Laughlin with Cascadia Wildlands. “In addition to playing an important ecological role by contributing to nutrient flow and soil health, the Siskiyou Mountains salamander is a distinct part of this region’s natural heritage.”
 
Today’s petition was filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands Center, Environmental Protection Information Center and Cascadia Wildlands.
 
Background
There are two distinct populations of the Siskiyou Mountains salamander separated by the Siskiyou Mountains crest — a larger northern population in the Applegate River drainage in Oregon and a small southern population in California’s Klamath River drainage. Most known Siskiyou Mountains salamander locations are on U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Bureau of Land Management lands.
 
Conservation groups first petitioned for protection of the salamander under the Endangered Species Act in 2004. To prevent the species’ listing, the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service signed a conservation agreement in 2007, intended to protect habitat for 110 high-priority salamander sites on federal lands in the Applegate River watershed. In 2008 the Fish and Wildlife Service denied protection for the salamander based on this conservation agreement and old-growth forest protections provided by the Northwest Forest Plan.
 
Under the Northwest Forest Plan, the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service were required to survey for rare species such as the Siskiyou Mountains salamander and designate protected buffers from logging where salamanders were found. But the Western Oregon Plan Revision adopted by the BLM in 2016 will substantially increase logging in western Oregon and undermine the habitat protections of the salamander conservation agreement.
                                                                               
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Feb14

Press Release: Marbled Murrelet Listed as Endangered in Oregon

For Immediate Release, February 9, 2018
 

Oregon Raises Protections for Rare Seabird

Logging, Loss of Prey, Climate Change All Endanger Marbled Murrelet

Marbled Murrelet -large

PORTLAND, Ore.— Responding to a petition from conservation groups, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission voted today to change the status of marbled murrelets from threatened to endangered under the Oregon Endangered Species Act.
 
The decision to uplist the murrelet reflects the increasingly imperiled status of the species in Oregon and represents an important step in reversing its ongoing decline toward extinction in the state.    
 
“We applaud the commission for recognizing that the marbled murrelet warrants endangered status in Oregon,” said Nick Cady, legal director at Cascadia Wildlands. “This decision sets the stage for the state of Oregon to take the steps that will be necessary to recover this species in Oregon.”
 
The marbled murrelet is a seabird that nests in old-growth and mature forests and forages at sea. Its population has declined dramatically over the decades because of extensive logging in Oregon’s Coast Range. The commission’s decision could have implications for forest protection on state and private timberlands.
 
“While federal laws have stabilized habitat loss on federal lands, the state of Oregon has continued to allow logging of older forests at an alarming rate and failed to adequately address new threats to the species,” said Bob Sallinger, conservation director for the Audubon Society of Portland. “Changing the murrelet’s status to endangered will help ensure that Oregon takes the steps necessary to do its part to save this species.”
 
In response to a petition from multiple conservation organizations, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife developed a status review to assess the murrelet’s condition. The review demonstrated that murrelets need increased protections under the Oregon Endangered Species Act due largely to loss of nesting habitat from ongoing clear-cut logging. State protections are critical, because although many of Oregon’s Coast Range old-growth forests have been logged and converted into industrial tree farms, some of the best remaining older forests occur on state-managed lands.
 
“We’re pleased commissioners made a sound, science-based decision that’s exactly what these desperately imperiled seabirds need to survive,” said Tierra Curry, senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The science was absolutely clear that the murrelet warrants endangered status in Oregon. This protection will be critical to preserving an amazing part of our state’s natural heritage.”
 
The murrelet was listed as threatened in 1995. However, the recent status review conducted by Oregon’s Department of Fish and Wildlife concluded that the “key threats identified at the time of listing have continued or increased, and many new threats have been identified since the 1990s … the life history exhibited by this species provides little opportunity for the population to rapidly increase even under the most optimal circumstances.” It also noted that the primary causes of marbled murrelet declines — loss and fragmentation of older forest habitat on which the bird depends for nesting — have “slowed, but not halted … since the 1990s,” with greatest losses occurring on lands managed by the state. The review specifically notes that existing programs and regulation have “failed to prevent continued high rates of habitat loss on nonfederal lands in Oregon.”
 
The Oregon Endangered Species Act requires that the commission adopt survival guidelines for the species at the time of reclassification. Survival guidelines are quantifiable and measurable guidelines necessary to ensure the survival of individual members of the species. Guidelines may include take avoidance and protecting resource sites such as nest sites or other sites critical to the survival of individual members of the species. They would serve as interim protection until endangered species management plans are developed by applicable state agencies and approved by the Fish and Wildlife Commission.
 
“It is remarkable that this species has been listed as threatened for more than 20 years but the state of Oregon has never developed a plan to actually protect murrelets on either lands owned by the state of Oregon or private timber lands,” said Quinn Read, Northwest director of Defenders of Wildlife. “The status quo has failed this iconic Oregon seabird. We look forward to working with ODFW and other agencies to developing a plan that will truly protect this species and allow it to recover in Oregon.”
 
“This is an important step for ODFW.  The agency has struggled to faithfully act on it's core mission of protecting all native fish and wildlife in our state, but with this action to protect the marbled murrelet we hope they have turned the page,” said Steve Pedery, Conservation Director for Oregon Wild.
 
The conservation groups that initiated the petition to declare the marbled murrelet endangered in Oregon were Cascadia Wildlands, Audubon Society of Portland, the Center for Biological Diversity, Oregon Wild, Coast Range Forest Watch and the Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club.

 

Jan17

Cascade-Siskiyou — A Wonderland at a Biological and Political Crossroads

by Sam Krop, Cascadia Wildlands Grassroots Organizer

Straddling the border of Oregon and California, the beautiful and biologicall unique Cascade-Siskiyou NationalIMG_2179 Monument has received a lot of public attention lately. According to the Monument’s June 2000 establishing proclamation, the land is worthy of protection under the Antiquities Act as an “ecological wonder,” and a unique “biological crossroads” where several distinct ecoregions collide.  In January of 2017, the Obama administration approved expanding the Monument by 42,000 acres in Oregon and adding 5,000 acres in California. Now, following hasty and ill-informed recommendations from Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, the Monument is under threat of being stripped of those protections by the Trump administration.

This is a simple telling of the Cascade-Siskiyou’s history, and it doesn’t take a lot of digging to learn that there is lot more to the story than what appears on the surface.  To really comprehend the extraordinary nature of this place, you have to visit it yourself. For this reason, my partner and I took a trip down to the Monument—to see what we could learn from the place itself.

We dedicated the first part of our journey to exploring the land within the 2016 expanded boundary. In a single day’s journey, we walked through sprawling oak savannah, high desert-like country rich with sage, and mature forests boasting massive fir and pine. We saw a post-fire ecosystem in resurgence, t13ook in the breathtaking views of Shasta to the south and Mount McLoughlin to the north from rocky crags and heard the trickling of water making its way through crevices underground.  We walked the same trail that Zinke walked during his official Monument “review,” but I could not help but feel that we and Zinke were seeing completely different things.  

From our exploration, it was immediately evident that the land granted protection with the Monument’s expanded boundaries is far more than what Secretary Zinke called a “buffer” for the biological diversity inside of the original boundary. On the contrary, according to a 2011 study published by a diverse group of scientists, the expansion area is described as a part of, and home to many of the important ecological features the Monument was originally intended to protect.  The scientists go on to argue that “without Monument expansion…some of the area’s important biological values were at high risk of degradation and loss.” The words of these scientists reflect what we saw when we visited—that far from being a buffer, the land inside of the recent Monument expansion is an integral part of this incredible ecological wonderland.

In addition to seeing breaIMG_2224-2thtaking natural wonders, in our journey within the newly protected Monument expansion area, we saw hundreds of cattle, miles of fencing and forests in recovery from commercial logging.  Here again, our experience was different than Zinke’s. While we saw a place that is healing and in need of continued protection in order to fully recover, Zinke saw a lost opportunity for more commercial activity.  In fact, Zinke’s driving criticism of the Monument is that Monument protections do not well-serve commercial logging and grazing interests. Indeed, according to its establishing proclamation, the purpose of the Monument is to protect the “biological crossroads,” and the “spectacular variety of rare and beautiful species of plants and animals,” not to serve commercial interests.

Zinke’s assertion that we can somehow increase commercial activity and simultaneously protect biodiversity is ill-informed at best and intentionally misleading at worst.  The known destructive impacts of commercial logging on biologically sensitive areas are the exact reason why lands in the Cascade-Siskiyou Monument are protected from timber companies.  In addition, while there are still numerous commercial grazing allotments in the Monument expansion area, we also know that commercial grazing negatively impacts biological integrity. The findings of a 2008 Bureau of Land Management study decisively illustrate this point. The study, completed over the course of many years and using several key biological indicators, found that the proliferation of commercial grazing has created measurable adverse impacts to the native species and natural features of the Monument.

 In sum, we know that commercial logging and grazing are not compatible with protecting sensitive ecological areas. What Zinke does not seem to grasp is that you cannot simultaneously claim to protect a place and promote the very activities which have been shown to threaten it. 

In a time when biodiversity is collapsing at an unprecedented rate, the Cascade-Siskiyou is so incredibly precious. At  root here is a simple question: Do we value biological integrity in a special place like this enough to truly protect it? Thousands of Oregonians, including Oregon’s Governor and both of Oregon’s U.S. Senators, continue to answer that question with a resounding ‘yes.’ As he considers Zinke’s recommendations to shrink Cascade-Siskiyou and make it a “protected area” in name only, it remains to be seen whether Trump will respect Oregon’s top statewide elected leaders – and this very special place – or not.

For  more information about how to get involved to save the Cascade Siskiyou National Monument, sign up for our e -news or visit Monuments for All. 

 

 

 

Jan16

Press release: Gray wolves documented on Oregon’s Mt. Hood

For immediate release
January 16, 2018
Contact: Josh Laughlin, Cascadia Wildlands, 541-844-8182
 
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announced today that two gray wolves have been documented on the Mt. Hood National Forest. A remote camera captured an image showing two wolves traveling together in southern Wasco County. Until now, only lone wolves have been documented dispersing through the area since they began migrating back into the state from Idaho in 2007.
 
Oregon is currently undergoing a gray wolf management plan revision, and conservation groups including Cascadia Wildlands are urging the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Commission to maintain protections for the species, especially in light of their recent population plateau. At the end of 2016, a minimum of 112 wolves were known to inhabit Oregon, an increase in only two wolves from the prior year. A recent wolf poaching spree has been documented in the state impacting the population.
 
Josh Laughlin, Executive Director of Eugene-based Cascadia Wildlands released the following statement:
 
“It is heartening to see gray wolves continuing to reoccupy historic territories across the Northwest after they were exterminated nearly a century ago. It also underscores the need to maintain safeguards for this unique species that continues to be under fire by special-interest groups and politicians.”
 
“The northern Oregon Cascades are wilder place with wolves back on the landscape, and it won’t be long before backcountry travelers get to experience the unforgettable howl of a wolf by the campfire on Mt. Hood. It is imperative that protections are upheld for the gray wolf as it continues its remarkable recovery in the region.”
 
Cascadia Wildlands has been working to recover gray wolves in the Pacific West through outreach, coalition work, litigation and policy creation since its founding in 1998.
 
A public domain, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife photo of the two wolves can be found here.
 
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