News

Oct21

Cascadia Sues Over Lack of Federal Protections for the Wolverine

Cascadia Wildlands, along with a broad coalition of conservation groups, has filed suit over the Fish and Wildlife Service's failure to list the wolverine on the Endangered Species Act list.  The Fish and Wildlife Service officially withdrew its proposal to list the species after applied political pressure from a handful of western states.  Only 250-300 wolverines call the contiguous United States home, living in small populations scattered across the west.  A unanimous panel of Fish and Wildilfe scientists had previously recognized serious threats to the wolverine's continued existence, acknowledging that the greatest threat to the species' survival in the United States is habitat loss due to climate change.

The suit was filed on October 20, 2014, and the coalitition is represented by the Western Environmental Law Center.  This case carries important ramifications for other species  impacted by climate change as federal regulators have generally relied upon out-of-date or ineffective climate change  models.  Wolverines have been found in Washington, Oregon, and California. 

 

To see more background on the wolverine and this lawsuit, click here. 

A copy of the complaint can be found here.

Oct08

Annual Bear Cub Orphaning Hangs on Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission Vote

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
Media Contact: Nick Cady: 541-434-1463; nick@cascwild.org
 
Annual Bear Cub Orphaning Hangs on Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission Voteblack bear and cub
 
(September 8, 2014) – Cascadia Wildlands and a coalition of conservation groups are urging Gov. John Kitzhaber and the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission to reject the “Siskiyou Plus” proposal to expand springtime black bear hunting in southwest Oregon, during a time in which mother bears are nursing dependent cubs. The coalition of local and national conservation groups sent letters in advance of the commission vote.
 
Nick Cady, legal director of Cascadia Wildlands said: “Expanding the spring bear hunt and putting mother bears with young cubs at risk is simply nonsensical. Orphaning more bear cubs in the state will lead to higher levels of human/bear conflict and result in an increased cost to taxpayers.”
 
In Oregon, it is unlawful to kill cubs less than one-year-old or mother bears with cubs less than one-year-old. However, by increasing the number of tags offered during the spring nursing season, the likelihood of accidentally taking mother black bears is also increased. Since cubs are dependent on their mothers for survival for 16 to 17 months, orphaned cubs will likely die from starvation, exposure to the elements or predation.
 
Scott Beckstead, Oregon senior state director for The Humane Society of the United States, said: “If this dangerous proposal passes, the chances of orphaning bear cubs in Oregon will greatly increase. Mother bears regularly forage at great distances from their cubs, which may cause hunters to mistakenly believe they’ve shot a lone female, dooming the cubs.”
 
The Siskiyou Plus bear hunt seeks to open up a new geographic area in southwestern Oregon to spring bear hunting, and will offer more than 200 additional bear-hunting tags.
 
Sally Mackler, Oregon carnivore representative for Predator Defense, said: “It is disingenuous to hold spring bear hunts and at the same time prohibit killing cubs less than a year old. Spring bear hunts inevitably result in the killing of mother bears and their cubs being subjected to prolonged and painful deaths.”
 
Oregon voters have twice favored providing strong protection for bears in statewide ballot contests. Liberalizing spring bear hunting would be at odds with voter sentiment in the state.
 
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Oct07

Washington’s Stevens County Urges Citizens to Kill Endangered Wolves

For Immediate Release, October 7, 2014
 
Contacts: 
Amaroq Weiss, Center for Biological Diversity, (707) 779-9613
Nick Cady, Cascadia Wildlands, (314) 482-3746
 
Washington’s Stevens County Urges Citizens to Kill Endangered Wolves
Conservation Groups Call on State to Stop Disclosing Wolf Locations to County 
 
OLYMPIA, Wash.— Conservation groups today called on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to stop providing wolf location information to Stevens County, which recently adopted resolutions claiming a constitutional 2008937557right to kill wolves and exhorting its citizens to do so. In a letter sent today, the Center for Biological Diversity and Cascadia Wildlands said the agency must immediately revoke written agreements to disclose daily locations of radio-collared wolves to county officials. The groups also urged the agency to rescind agreements with other counties if those counties adopt similar resolutions.
 
“Stevens County wants its citizens to kill wolves and the state is arming them with information that certainly makes it easier,” said Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf organizer for the Center for Biological Diversity. “Let’s not kid ourselves: The result will be more dead wolves for a population that’s still struggling to gain a foothold.”
 
The state wildlife agency has wolf location agreements with six counties, several individuals and one private entity. The agreement with Stevens County includes an admonition that sensitive information “should not be” redistributed, but does not prohibit it. Agency officials admit that no mechanism exists to prevent disclosure and that if leaked information leads to the illegal killing of a wolf there is little, if any, means to trace that death back to the leak. The sharing of wolf location information is highly unusual; the agency does not share sensitive location information about any other threatened or endangered species. 
 
“The resolutions adopted by Stevens County place wolves at substantial risk of harm or death,” said Nick Cady, legal director for Cascadia Wildlands. “That risk skyrockets if the state wildlife agency is sharing sensitive information regarding wolf locations. The only way to ensure there are no information leaks is to pull the plug on the agreements.”
 
Washington’s wolves were driven to extinction in the early 1900s by a government-sponsored eradication program on behalf of the livestock industry. Since the early 2000s, the animals have started to make a slow comeback by dispersing into Washington from Idaho and British Columbia. Though Washington’s wolf population was estimated at only 52 animals at the end of 2013, the agency has twice conducted highly controversial lethal control actions on wolves, both of which took place in Stevens County. In 2012 nearly all of the Wedge pack was killed and six weeks ago the agency killed the alpha female of the Huckleberry pack. 
 
In response to public outcry over the handling of the Huckleberry pack and wolf-livestock conflicts, the agency is holding a public meeting in Colville tonight at 6 p.m. at the Colville Ag Trade Center, Northeast Washington Fairgrounds, 317 West Astor Ave. The public will be able to share their views on wolf management and recovery in Washington and ask questions of agency officials. The agency plans to hold a similar meeting in Lynwood on October 14 at 6 p.m. at the Lynnwood Convention Center, 3711 196th St. SW.
 
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 775,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.
 
Cascadia Wildlands is an Oregon-based, non-profit conservation organization with approximately 10,000 members and supporters throughout the United States. Cascadia Wildlands educates, agitates, and inspires a movement to protect and restore Cascadia’s wild ecosystems.
 
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Oct06

“Safeguard the Elliott!” — Come Testify at the October 8 North Bend Hearing

Kelsey:Sheena adjustedFuture management of the 93,000-acre Elliott State Forest located northeast of Coos Bay is at a pivotal crossroads. The State Land Board (made up of Governor John Kitzhaber, Treasurer Ted Wheeler, and Secretary Kate Brown) is the trustee of the Elliott and will be hosting a special "listening session" in North Bend on October 8 to take public testimony on the future management of the forest. There are a number of proposals currently being considered by the state, including a reckless one that would dispose of the entire Elliott to Big Timber. The session will provide a tremendous opportunity to encourage a conservation solution for the Elliott that safeguards the forest for its outstanding values, like clean water, wild salmon, carbon storage and recreational opportunities.
 
Special State Land Board "Listening Session" on the Elliott State Forest
Wednesday, October 8, 3-6 pm
Hales Performing Arts Center (1988 Newmark Ave.), North Bend, OR
 
Carpools from Portland, Eugene and west of Roseburg are being planned. For more information and to RSVP for the Portland carpool, email Micah Meskel. The Eugene carpool will leave at 12:30 pm from behind FedEx Office on 13th and Willamette St.. Email Josh Laughlin for more information and to RSVP. The carpool from west of Roseburg will leave at 1 pm. Email Francis Eatherington for meeting location and to RSVP.
 
Preparing your testimony: Please consider preparing three-minute (maximum) testimony on behalf of yourself or the organization you represent. You should also plan to leave a hard copy of your testimony with Land Board staff after you testify. If you can't make it to the meeting on October 8, consider submitting your comments to the Land Board by email.
 
Possible talking points include:
       Decouple old-growth clearcutting from school funding on the Elliott
       Protect the Elliott's remianing native forests, wild salmon and imperiled wildlife
       Safeguard the Elliott for its hunitng, fishing and recreational opportunities and potential
       Promote timber jobs on the forest by restoratively thinning the dense second-growth tree farms and enhancing fish and wildlife habitat
       Oppose the privatization of the Elliott State Forest
 
It is encouraged that you personalize your testimony and remind the State Land Board why the Elliott is so important to you or your organization. Thanks for speaking up for this outstanding public resource!
 
(School kids stand in the threatened Elliott State Forest. Photo by Josh Laughlin)

Oct02

Last Stand: The New Book On Ted Turner The Bison Baron, Wolf Warrior and Eco-Capitalist Stirring Buzz In Pacific Northwest

For Immediate Release
 
Contact:  Laurie Kenney, Senior Publicist, lkenney@rowman.com or 203-458-4555
 
Last Stand: The New Book On Ted Turner The Bison Baron, Wolf  Warrior and Eco-Capitalist Stirring Buzz In Pacific Northwest
 
How can the Pacific Northwest be “rewilded”?  What does eco-capitalism really look like on the ground?  What Todds cover350does it mean to be having wolves crossing the Cascades?  What’s the role of the United Nations in a modern world fraught with nuclear dangers, America-hating terrorists and the spectre of Ebola?  All of these issues flow dramatically through the life of one man who makes his home on the eastern flanks of the region.
 
In Todd Wilkinson’s new book, “Last Stand: Ted Turner’s Quest to Save a Troubled Planet,” (just out in paperback), one of America’s most outspoken and controversial capitalists, environmentalists and humanitarians rises in a way that overshadows his better known identity of media mogul.  Meet Turner the bison baron and pathfinding believer in the triple bottom line.
 
Wilkinson’s book has been circulated to every member of Congress and reached the hands of every ambassador to the United Nations, in addition to being the talk of world leaders and engaged citizens.
 
It is also the fodder for a provocative swing of talks, part of the Two Talking Wolves Tour that passes through the Pacific Northwest for two weeks during the latter half of October.  
 
Wilkinson will be joined by well-known Eugene-based conservationist Bob Ferris who helped bring wolves back to Yellowstone and central Idaho 20 years ago and today heads Cascadia Wildlands.
 
As the publicist for “Last Stand,” I am happy to send you a copy for review (just email me back) and would be grateful if you might write something about the Two Walking Wolves Tour.  Both Wilkinson and Ferris are available for interviews.  
 
Wilkinson’s talks on Turner have attracted large audiences on college campuses and at other public forums across the country. Turner also has influenced the giving ethic of Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates.
 
What others have said about “Last Stand” and Turner:
Last Stand is a great literary portrait of the many parts of a fascinating and important man—Ted Turner.  Ted is on a mission to save the world and the world should be grateful to have an energetic and imaginative friend.”  —Tom Brokaw
 
Last Stand is an example of the clarity of double-vision: Todd Wilkinson as a visionary writer and Ted Turner as his visionary subject.”  —Terry Tempest Williams
 
“Ted Turner is one of the great originals of American history, an innovator of the first rank, and, as Last Stand shows, a unique human innovation of his own making.  Out of his many achievements, the most important may be the proof that capitalism and environmentalism can be joined to major humanitarian effect.”  —E.O. Wilson
More information on Wilkinson and Ferris:
 
Todd Wilkinson
Nationally-known environmental journalist Todd Wilkinson is author of the new critically-acclaimed book “Last Todd-Wilkinson1-284x300Stand: Ted Turner’s Quest to Save a Troubled Planet” that has been spurring discussions about “eco-capitalism” across the country.   From Turner’s pioneering work in “rewilding the West” with wolves and grizzly bears to raising 50,000 bison, giving $1 billion to the UN and trying to prevent terrorists from getting their hands on nuclear weapons, he has been hailed as a pathfinding 21st century businessman.  Wilkinson, whose work has appeared in national newspapers and magazines, spent seven years going behind the scenes with Turner and tells the dramatic story of how nature not only saved the legendary “media mogul” but left him transformed.   Wilkinson’s slide show discussions have been delighting—and provoking— audiences across the country.
 
Bob Ferris
BobKnown primarily for his groundbreaking work on wolf recovery in the West, Bob Ferris has been a leader in the conservation and sustainability communities for more than 30 years.  Ferris is a trained scientist and former businessman with a long history of working to dispel fear and myths about predators while developing mechanisms to overcome the legitimate barriers to coexistence.  He was part of the volunteer team that went north to Fort Saint John, BC in 1996 to capture wolves bound for Yellowstone and central Idaho during the government shutdown and has crossed back and forth between policy and practice ever since.  He is currently the executive director of Cascadia Wildlands headquartered in Eugene, Oregon.
 
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Sep29

Court Decision Stops Four Tongass National Forest Logging Projects (an Excerpt)

By Mary Kauffman
Sit News
September 27,2014
 
Gabe Scott, Cascadia Wildlands' representative in Alaska, said "In answering our previous challenges to these aawolftimber sale projects the Forest Service corrected its modeling errors, and then came up with the same failing deer model scores we had been predicting for years in this case, instead of its previous high numbers. The agency covered over this outcome by applying the 2008 Forest Plan to the modeling results, whereas the projects had been planned and decided under the 1997 Forest Plan. We had no choice but to take this back to court.”
 
The court found the agency’s approach to be illegal, saying "The Forest Service cannot have it both ways." It determined that "… the 1997 and 2008 Forest Plans … are not identical and therefore they are not interchangeable in evaluating the Forest Service's decisions …," and that "… retroactive application of an amended plan has expressly been rejected by the Ninth Circuit."
 
The Forest Service now has a second chance that includes two options to correct the deficiency. The second chance is one of two optional paths the plaintiffs asked the court to take in its decision. Under the court decision, either the remedial remand work must be redone by reevaluating the corrected deer model results under the framework of the 1997 Tongass Forest Plan, or the agency must formally remake the decisions for the four timber projects under the 2008 Forest Plan.
 
"The Forest Service has lots of work to do if it still wants to pursue these projects,” said Scott. "It also has the option to simply cancel the projects though, and that really makes the most sense given the limited capacity for these forest areas to sustain adequate deer populations under the Forest Service’s model.”
 
This was the second legal action of the week affecting the Alexander Archipelago wolf. On Monday the Center for Biological Diversity, Greenpeace and The Boat Company achieved a settlement with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to advance the agency's decision date for deciding whether to list the species as threatened or endangered in Southeast Alaska (including the Tongass National Forest) – the only place where it exists – under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
 
The three organizations sued the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service earlier this year because it had planned to delay its decision on the listing at the end of 2017 at the earliest. The ESA requires a decision within one year of when a petition-to-list is filed. The settlement sets the deadline as the last day of 2015.
 
Greenpeace's Edwards said, "This is an important settlement, because now the decision on whether or not to list the Alexander Archipelago wolf as threatened or endangered will be made well before the Forest Service's next amendments to the Tongass Forest Plan, which will be finalized in August 2016."
 
Greenpeace and Cascadia Wildlands won a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals order in 2011, directing the district court to remand the Forest Service's decisions on the projects. The remand required the agency to explain what apparent plain errors in the way it applied a timber sale planning tool known as the deer model.
 
Attorneys representing Greenpeace and Cascadia Wildlands are Chris Winter of Crag Law Center (Portland, Oregon) and René Voss of California. The McIntosh Foundation and The Boat Company, which does eco-tours in Southeast Alaska, have supported the effort.
 
 
 

Sep17

Another mistake in managing wolf recovery

The Olympian
September 16, 2014 
 
The state Department of Fish and Wildlife has mismanaged another conflict between an Eastern Washington 2008937557rancher and an important wolf pack. This time the department accidently killed the breeding alpha female of the Huckleberry pack, one of the state’s most stable and prolific packs. Gray wolves are an endangered species in Washington.
 
This is a catastrophic mistake that will likely lead to more conflict between the pack and livestock. The loss of a breeding adult in a pack is well-known to wildlife experts to cause chaos within the pack and unpredictable future behavior.
 
But the department’s mishandling didn’t end there. The agency knew the rancher had refused conflict avoidance resources from the DFW and Washington State University and proceeded to put 1,800 sheep in the wolf pack’s territory in difficult terrain without state-advised deterrents in place and protected by only a single herder and four dogs.
 
State wildlife officials surely knew this was a recipe for disaster.
 
When dead sheep started appearing on Department of Natural Resources-owned land, DFW should have been prepared to take quick and effective nonlethal deterrent action. It was not, and instead issued a secret kill order without notifying members of the Washington Wolf Advisory group in advance.
 
The DFW sharpshooter, working from a helicopter, was authorized to kill four of this year’s pups. But he mistakenly killed the pack’s alpha female.
 
Diane Gallegos, executive director of Wolfhaven International, located in Thurston County, said the conservation community is unanimous that the DFW and the rancher didn’t follow the state wolf plan and that the DFW shouldn’t have issued a kill order.
 
“This is an endangered species, and it is unconscionable that they accidently killed the breeding female of an endangered species,” Gallegos said. We agree.
 
In 2012, the DFW killed the entire Wedge Pack, even though it had failed to effectively implement the non-lethal measures required by the state’s wolf conservation management plan.
 
When ranchers engage in cooperative agreements with DFW, the state saves money, ranchers protect their livestock and wolves survive on other food sources.
 
Ranchers can also call on nonprofits, such as Conservation Northwest, to reduce conflicts between wolves and livestock. Conservation Northwest is using private funds and staff to train and provide range riders to oversee livestock sharing range with wolves. They are currently engaged in five separate projects, and in three seasons have not lost any livestock to wolves.
 
After the Huckleberry blunder, some of the most passionate gray wolf advocates are questioning whether DFW has a tendency to favor the interests of livestock operators. Clearly, the agency should be doing more to protect an endangered species.
 
Hundreds of thousands of gray wolves once roamed the West. When their natural food sources dwindled after human settlements, they sometimes turned to livestock earning the ire of pioneers. By the middle of the last century, most wolves had been killed off.
 
Today, thanks to protected status, wolves are making a comeback. They are a natural resource that belongs to the people of this state.
 
Gov. Jay Inslee should order a review of the department’s wolf plan management, and state lawmakers must legislate a requirement that ranchers engage in good-faith cooperative agreements with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.
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Sep11

Female wolf is Northwest descendant: Trail cameras first spotted OR-7’s black female companion in May (an Excerpt)

By Lacey Jarrell
Klamath Falls Herald and News
September 6, 2014 
 
The mysterious female wolf that mated with OR-7 is a confirmed descendant of Northwest wolves.Potential OR-7 mate
 
According to a press release, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has received the results of scat samples sent to the University of Idaho for analysis. The samples, collected in Southwest Oregon in May and July, identified OR-7’s mate and two of the pair’s pups as wolves.
 
************
Cascadia Wildlands Executive Director Bob Ferris dubbed OR-7’s female companion “Wandering Wanda,” or just Wanda for short, in a June blog post for his organization.
 
“We got tired of calling her the uncollared wolf that came from nowhere,” Ferris said. “Wanda probably wandered as far as OR-7 and her story is probably just as remarkable as his.”
 
Ferris said although Wanda is just a nickname, he believes it’s a reasonable solution to talking about a well-known animal that doesn’t have anything to call it by. ODFW spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy said biologists don’t name wolves; however, as a function of being collared, wolves are given an identification, such as OR-7’s. Dennehy said “OR” represents the state — Oregon — and “7” indicates he was the seventh wolf collared in Oregon.
 
 
 

Sep02

Advocates Vow to Protect Devil’s Staircase Wilderness

by Zach Urness
Salem Statesman Journal
August 31, 2014
 
The first time Andy Stahl heard about the Devil's Staircase, it was little more than a wilderness myth.
 
Rumors of a spectacular waterfall hidden deep within one of the Coast Range's most remote and inaccessible canyons spread through Oregon State University's Environmental Center in the late 1970s like sightings of Bigfoot, sparking debate among students about whether this central coast Shangri-La actually existed.
 
Every bushwhacking adventure into the thick, cliff-walled jungle surrounding Wassen Creek — the supposed location of the fabled cascade — ended in failure, often after a miserable rain-soaked night in the wild.
 
"Year after year, students at Oregon State attempted to find it, and every time they failed," Stahl said. "It wasn't something that could be found on a map. It didn't have an official name, there certainly wasn't a trail, and the land is just damn hard to get through. A lot of people thought it didn't exist."
 
In 1981, the forestry graduate decided the mystery had to be solved. With a young environmental activist named Sherry Wellborn — who would later become his wife — Stahl traversed over 30 miles of Wassen Creek in tennis shoes.
 
The trip would not only prove Devil's Staircase did exist — and that it was as beautiful as hoped — it would set in motion a three-decade effort to preserve one of the largest remaining old-growth ecosystems in Oregon's Central Coast Range.
 
The effort to safeguard the 200-foot Douglas firs and cedars, spotted owl and coho salmon habitat, and dense interior valleys surrounding Devil's Staircase and Wassen Creek — a landscape nestled between the Smith and Umpqua rivers east of Reedsport — has been a quixotic journey that began in the early 1980s.
 
It has twice survived the threat of logging while coming within a razor's edge of being protected by Congress in 1984. It has come within striking distance of being protected as the 30,540 acre Devil's Staircase Wilderness multiple times since 2009 yet has always come just short.
 
With the 50th anniversary of Wilderness Act on Sept. 3 — a landmark piece of legislation aimed at preserving the nation's most important landscapes in their natural state — the Devil's Staircase offers a glimpse into the past and present struggle to preserve one of Oregon's wildest places.
 
Wassen Creek flows through dense old-growth forest in a remote canyon in Oregon's Central Coast Range east of Reedsport.
 
The main thing Stahl remembers about that three-day trip down the length of Wassen Creek was how isolated he felt in a 1,800-foot canyon that hadn't changed much since Columbus set sail.
 
This struck him as remarkable, especially since the Coast Range has been the realm of logging for more than a century. Forest Service, BLM and private logging roads bisect the vast majority of forest. Much of the landscape is a checkerboard of tree farms, clear-cuts, second growth, or some combination.
 
Yet within Wassen Creek, home to almost 26,000 acres of intact old-growth, Stahl found a deeper solitude than anywhere he'd previously traveled.
 
Massive Douglas fir and cedars rose 200 feet into the canopy overhead. In three days he saw more wildlife — black bear, river otter, elk and signs of cougar — than during a year's worth of hiking and backpacking.
 
On the third day, they found the Devil's Staircase, where Wassen Creek drops 50 feet down a series of sandstone tiers.
 
"It struck me that we were as isolated geographically as I had ever been in my life — the cliffs were so sheer that if one of us broke an ankle, I didn't have any idea how we'd get out," Stahl said. "I saw no evidence of humans — not a fire ring, blaze on a tree or boot mark. It was remarkable — not a canella of human presence."
 
THE FIRST THREAT OF LOGGING
Not long after Stahl's epic trip, in 1982, Siuslaw National Forest proposed a timber sale that would have led to a 400-acre cut in the Wassen Creek area.
 
The proposal sparked the first effort to preserve the area.
 
Environmental activists convinced then-Sen. Mark Hatfield to write a letter holding off the sale. In 1983, the National Wildlife Federation filed suit claiming the area's steep slopes and shallow, unstable soils on the Mapleton Ranger District were highly susceptible to landslides following timber harvests, which damage waterways.
 
The court ordered the Forest Service to conduct an environmental review and produce an Environmental Impact Statement before offering to sell, "any timber on the Mapleton Ranger District other than limited commercial thinning … firewood … greenery sales and salvage of dead and downed timber sales."
 
The result was dramatic. Timber harvests fell from 75 million board feet in 1983 to 15 million broad feet in 1984 on the Mapleton Ranger District. Many residents blamed the lawsuit for closing the mills and the city's loss of jobs.
 
The Wassen Creek area was originally included for protection under the 1984 Oregon Wilderness Act. A cap placed on acreage in the bill forced then-Rep. Jim Weaver to choose between a wilderness area in Southern Oregon and Wassen Creek.
 
Wassen Creek was the odd wilderness out.
 
RE-ENERGIZED
Without wilderness protection, but under no real threat from logging, the Devil's Staircase and Wassen Creek area went quiet as the Forest Wars raged in other parts of the state.
 
The area was declared critical habitat for the spotted owl by the Endangered Species Act in the early 1990s and the Northwest Forest Plan provided additional protection in 1994, but it never received the wilderness stroke of Congress.
 
The quiet period ended in 2006 when a 5,000-acre section of the proposed wilderness was included in a draft of the Western Oregon Plan Revision by the Bureau of Land Management to become Timber Management Area.
 
The inclusion re-energized the wilderness campaign around Devil's Staircase and Wassen Creek that hit full bore in 2007.
 
Editorials, rallies, media attention and even visits by two of Oregon's congressional delegation — Rep. Peter DeFazio and Sen. Jeff Merkley, who bushwhacked to the waterfall — brought renewed emphasis to preserving the area as wilderness.
 
Rep. DeFazio has introduced a bill giving the area wilderness protection three times in the House since 2009. Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden and Sen. Merkley have introduced similar bills in the Senate three times as well. It passed the full Senate in June with unanimous consent but is a long shot to pass the House.
 
AWKWARD POSITION
Wassen Creek remains as difficult to reach today as it did when Stahl made his trip more than 30 years ago.
 
While some rugged roads provide access along its borders, and barely visible game trails can be followed in places, this roadless, pathless forest remains as difficult to penetrate as ever.
 
Only around 100 people per year, all with strong navigational skills, endure the hellacious bushwhack into Wassen Creek and Devil's Staircase. Multiple people have been lost or spent an unexpected night among the densely forested ravines attempting to locate the staircase.
 
But while the forest has changed little, the political climate has taken an unexpected twist during the past few months.
 
The Devil's Staircase Wilderness bill is now part of a larger package of bills in the House (authored by Rep. DeFazio) and Senate (authored by Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden). The package would protect some areas, like the Devil's Staircase, while increasing logging on Oregon's federal O&C lands.
 
This has put supporters in a tough spot. In some cases, long-term proponents of the wilderness are now fighting the very bill that would finally make the Devil's Staircase Wilderness a reality.
 
"It's an incredibly awkward spot to be put in after the bill was advancing on its own merits," said Josh Laughlin, who has visited the Devil's Staircase area more than 20 times and is campaign director for Cascadia Wildlands, an Eugene-based environmental group.
 
"It's one of the wildest places in Oregon — really a magnificent slice of what the Coast Range once looked like. The Devil's Staircase deserves to stand on its own."
 
Zach Urness has been an outdoors writer, photographer and videographer in Oregon for seven years. He is the author of "Hiking Southern Oregon" and can be reached at zurness@Statesman Journal.com or (503) 399-6801. Find him on Facebook at Zach's Oregon Outdoors.
 
ABOUT THIS SERIES
Today's installment is the first of a two-part series about the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, exploring both the fight to create new wilderness in the example of the proposed Devils Staircase Wilderness and its history in Oregon.
 
The series continues Monday with dramatic examples of what can happen when nature and human nature collide over the restrictions inherent in the act.
 
50th ANNIVERSARY OF THE WILDERNESS ACT
On Sept. 3, 1964, Lyndon Johnson signed into law one of the most significant bills in environmental conservation into law. The Wilderness Act provides the highest level of protection for landscapes deemed worth both nationally and locally.
 
Five percent of the United States (and 2.7 percent of the Lower 48) and four percent of Oregon are protected under the Wilderness Act. In this two-part series, the Statesman Journal explores both the fight to create new wilderness — in the example of the proposed Devil's Staircase Wilderness — and its history in Oregon.
 
"A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain."
 
– Text of Wilderness Act
 
 
 

Aug29

Coalitions sue Forest Service to block Alaska old-growth timber sale (Excerpt)

Coalitions sue Forest Service to block Alaska old-growth timber sale
 
By Maria L. La Ganga
Los Angeles Times
August 29, 2015
 
Two coalitions of environmental groups have filed three separate suits against the U.S. Forest Service, hoping to stop what the organizations say is the largest sale of old-growth timber in nearly a generation in America's largest Mail Attachment-9national forest.
 
Last week the Forest Service gave the final go-ahead for the so-called Big Thorne timber sale in Alaska's Tongass National Forest, a scenic expanse the size of Delaware studded with 1,000-year-old trees. Under the terms of the multiyear sale, about 6,000 acres of old-growth trees would be harvested.
 
[BREAK]
 
On Tuesday, a separate group of environmental organizations filed a third suit against the Forest Service seeking to stop the Big Thorne project.
This group, which includes Cascadia Wildlands and Greenpeace, said that the Alexander Archipelago wolf population on Prince of Wales Island had dropped sharply and that the federal agency ignored research by the foremost expert on the wolves in deciding to go forward with the sale.
 
"Without enough old-growth winter habitat in the forest for shelter, deer populations plummet during deep-snow winters," said Gabriel Scott, Cascadia Wildlands' Alaska legal director. "And without enough deer to go around, wolves and hunters are direct competitors.
 
"That never ends well for the wolf, or for hunters, because deer are the wolves' primary prey," Scott said. "Big Thorne bites hard into necessary winter habitat."
 
Link to full article here
 
Link to press release and background information here 

 

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