News

Apr04

Francis Speaks out on the Elliott Sales

francisFrancis Eatherington is interviewed about the sale of portion of the Elliott State Forest to a timber company that claims they will clearcut the lands if they are awarded the public properties through the bid process.  
 

 

 

 

 

 

Apr01

Three companies bid for timberlands in Elliott State Forest

By Christina George, Roseburg News Review DSCN2264
April 1, 2014
 
Three companies bid for timberlands in Elliott State Forest: Threats of lawsuits and blockades didn’t scare off three timber companies from submitting bids for parcels the state plans to sell in the Elliott State Forest in Douglas and Coos counties.
 
The Oregon Department of State Lands received five bids for three parcels totaling 1,451 acres by Friday’s deadline, the department’s assistant director, Jim Paul, said.
 
The sale is to help offset a deficit growing in the Common School Fund.
 
All bids met or exceeded the minimum amount, which for the three tracts collectively was about $3 million.
 
Paul said the bids and names of bidders will not be released while the real estate transaction is pending. “We haven’t made any decisions (about) which bids we are accepting,” Paul said today. “We would expect it to close by the end of this month unless something unusual happens.”
 
An anti-logging activist group, Cascadia Forest Defenders, last month warned potential bidders that it will physically block logging on land sold on the 93,000-acre forest between Reedsport and Coos Bay. The group said in an open letter to the timber industry that it will send members up trees to prevent logging, and it will not respect property lines, signs or gates.
 
The group’s threat came days after three other environmental organizations warned they will sue any timber company that buys the lands with plans to log. Cascadia Wildlands, Audubon Society of Portland and the Center for Biological Diversity said the tracts contain marbled murrelet habitat and that logging would violate the Endangered Species Act.
 
Douglas Timber Operators Executive Director Bob Ragon said he didn’t know how many companies passed on bidding because of the threats, but some likely considered the potential legal costs. “I am sure it had a chilling effect on the outcome,” he said.
 
Francis Eatherington, Cascadia Wildlands conservation director, said timber companies’ interest is logging, which isn’t good for the “remarkable and unique place.”
 
Paul said two other parcels in the Elliott totaling 1,300 acres that will be auctioned in the fall will be marketed for conservation because they include marbled murrelet habitat.
 
“It still means anyone can bid on it, but from a marketing approach, we are going to emphasize that marbled murrelets are present,” Paul said. “It just means timber companies are less likely to bid.”
 
State Land Board members Gov. John Kitzhaber, Secretary of State Kate Brown and Treasurer Ted Wheeler in December approved selling 2,728 acres to make up a $3 million deficit in the Common School Fund. Lawsuits filed by conservation groups, including Cascadia Wildlands, have blocked logging in the Elliott, depriving the school fund from its source of revenue.
 
The state hired Realty Marketing Northwest to conduct the sale. The Portland-based firm began accepting bids Feb. 16. All sealed bids were opened at 5 p.m. Friday. The state is seeking at least $1.82 million for the 785-acre East Hakki Ridge in Douglas County. The other minimum bids are $610,500 for the 353-acre Benson Ridge parcel and $595,000 for the 311-acre Adams Ridge Tract 1 in Coos County. The two tracts that will be auctioned later this year are within the Adams Ridge parcel.
 
Eatherington said Cascadia Wildlands can’t afford to submit bids. “We are an organization that for the most part tries to protect the public lands, and we don’t have that kind of money,” she said. “We very much hope that someone who has that kind of money that wants to protect the endangered seabird that lives there would buy (it and) protect it.”
 
The timber on the five parcels has been appraised for $22 million, assuming the presence of marbled murrelets, a threatened seabird protected by the Endangered Species Act, doesn’t hinder logging. State surveyors and conservation group volunteers last summer reported spotting a marbled murrelet on two tracts in Coos County. A lower appraisal of $4 million was given if timber companies were unwilling to purchase land with marbled murrelet habitat.
 
“It’s unfortunate the state put it up for sale and didn’t restrict the sale to conservation groups, and by reducing the price from $22 million to $4 million and admitting the timber couldn’t be cut because of the uniqueness and the rarity, and to still fall to the timber industry doesn’t make any sense,” Eatherington said. •
 
You can reach reporter Christina George at 541-957-4202 or at cgeorge@nrtoday.com
 
 

Mar31

Nearly 500,000 More Americans Speak Out Against Federal Plan to Strip Gray Wolves of Protections

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California Wolf Center * Cascadia Wildlands * Center for Biological Diversity * Defenders of Wildlife * Earthjustice * Endangered Species Coalition * Humane Society of the United States * Living with Wolves * National Parks Conservation Association * Natural Resources Defense Council Oregon Wild * Project Coyote * Western Watersheds Project * WildEarth Guardians Wildlands Network * Wolf Conservation Center
 
For Immediate Release, March 31, 2013
Contact:
 
Leda Huta, Endangered Species Coalition, (202) 320-6467
Bob Ferris, Cascadia Wildlands, (541) 434-1463
Melanie Gade, Defenders of Wildlife, (202) 772-0288
Kierán Suckling, Center for Biological Diversity, (520) 275-5960
Sean Stevens, Oregon Wild, (503) 283-6343 x211
Kari Birdseye, Earthjustice, (415) 217-2098
Maggie Howell, Wolf Conservation Center, (914) 763-2373
 
Nearly 500,000 More Americans Speak Out Against Federal Plan to Strip Gray Wolves of Protection Scientific Peer Review Questioning Wolf Proposal Prompts Many to Write Administration
 
WASHINGTON—More than 460,000 Americans filed official comments calling on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to scrap its controversial proposal to remove federal protections from the gray wolf and instead work to advance wolf recovery in the United States. A scientific peer review released in early February 2014 unanimously concluded that a federal plan to drop protections for most gray wolves was not based on the best available science. These new comments and the results of the scientific peer review follow on the heels of the submission of approximately one million comments in late 2013 requesting that FWS continue to protect gray wolves. These comments represent the highest number of submissions ever to FWS on an endangered species, showing America’s overwhelming support for the charismatic wolf.
 

“When it comes to taking the wolf off of the endangered species list, Secretary Jewell told the public, ‘It’s about the science. And you do what the science says.’ It’s now time to stand by both her stated commitment to follow science and the will of the American people. She must immediately rescind the wolf delisting rule,” said Leda Huta, Executive Director of the Endangered Species Coalition. “As the top official in charge of wildlife and wild places, Secretary Jewell should ensure that gray wolves have the chance to fully recover wherever there is suitable habitat. Policy decisions about wolves and other wildlife should be based on the best science, not politics.”
 
“Science should be the lynchpin of every species listing decision and science should be the most significant factor guiding decisions on what ‘recovery’ looks like for our nation’s imperiled plants and animals,” said Defenders of Wildlife President Jamie Rappaport Clark. “The Fish and Wildlife Service should withdraw the delisting proposal for wolves and instead put science first to chart a sustainable recovery path for wolves throughout the U.S.”
 
“It’s time for the Obama administration to acknowledge what a growing number of Americans and our top scientists see very clearly — America’s gray wolves still need federal protection,” said Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity. “That’s what the public comment period and scientific peer review is all about – to make sure we get it right when it comes to protecting our most imperiled species. Now the only question is whether the Obama administration will follow the science or the politics.”
 
There were once up to 2 million gray wolves living in North America, but the animals were driven to near-extinction in the lower 48 states by the early 1900s. After passage of the federal Endangered Species Act in 1973 and protection of the wolf as endangered, federal recovery programs resulted in the rebound of wolf populations in limited parts of the country. Roughly 5,500 wolves currently live in the continental United States — a fraction of the species’ historic numbers.
 
“Instead of restoring wolves to their rightful places from coast to coast — as it did for bald eagles – the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants to abandon wolf recovery before the job is done,” said Marty Hayden, Earthjustice vice-president for policy and legislation. “More than a million people have now told FWS to go back to work and protect our wolves.”
 
Last year the Fish and Wildlife Service proposed removing federal Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves across most of the lower 48 states. The Obama administration’s proposal would remove protections for wolves everywhere except Arizona and New Mexico, where the Mexican wolf is struggling to survive with just 84 wolves in the wild. This proposal would abandon protections for wolves in places where recovery remains in its infancy, such as Oregon and Washington, and would prevent wolves from recovering in places where good wolf habitat has been identified, including northern California, the southern Rocky Mountains and the Northeast.
 
"There are many places in the West—mainly on federal lands—that can and should support wolves,” said Bob Ferris, executive Director of Cascadia Wildlands. “It is disingenuous for the USFWS to leverage human intolerance as a rationale for delisting when that was one of two contributing factors to endangerment. They need to materially address this cause, not use it as an excuse to ignore science and not to do their jobs.”
 
“Oregon wolves have taken the first tentative steps towards recovery in the last few years," said Sean Stevens, executive director with Oregon Wild. "If the Obama administration takes away the strong protections of the Endangered Species Act, we pull the rug out from the fragile success story here on the West Coast and leave the fate of wolves in the hands of state agencies in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming who have proven incapable of balanced management."
 

The independent scientific peer review released in early February was commissioned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and conducted by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis. The panel of independent scientists concluded unanimously that FWS’s national wolf delisting rule does not currently represent the “best available science.” In light of these findings, FWS’s proposed delisting rule contravenes the Endangered Species Act, which mandates that protection decisions must be based on the best available science. In addition to the nearly half a million comments submitted by the American public in recent weeks, ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee Peter DeFazio (D-OR) released a bipartisan letter co-signed by 73 House members urging Secretary Jewell to continue protections for gray wolves and rescind the proposed delisting rule immediately.

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Mar21

Where’s the science? Fish and Wildlife Service must rewrite proposal to strip endangered species protections from gray wolves (an excerpt)

By Paul Paquet and Bob Ferris 
Special to the Mercury News
 
about.paul
Silicon Valley embraces science and loves innovation. Sadly, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has recently shown contempt for both when it comes to the recovery of gray wolves — particularly in the wilds of Northern California where a lone wolf recently visited for the first time in more than 80 years.
 
Our unflattering assessment derives from the peer review of the service's 2013 proposal to strip Endangered Species Act protections from most wolves in the West. The service's recommendation to "delist" wolves was judged to have ignored and misrepresented the "best available science," which is the unambiguous standard for species listing decisions. We wholeheartedly agree with the peer reviewers' troubling conclusions, and we are disappointed that the service pursued political expediency rather than abiding by the lawful provisions of the ESA.
 
Bob TalkingThat choice was encouraged by state wildlife commissions and agencies blatantly promoting the extremist views of some ranchers and anti-wolf hunting groups. In doing so, these agencies ignored scientific principles and the intrinsic value of species by portraying wolves as needing lethal management and fostering policies that treat them as problems rather than as respected members of the ecological community.
 
Paul Paquet (right) is an internationally prominent wolf scientist and senior scientist at Raincoast Conservation Foundation. Bob Ferris (left), executive director of Cascadia Wildlands, has been a leader in wolf advocacy for two decades.
 
Click Here to Read the Full Piece on the San Jose Mercury site.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Mar21

Forests, Fracking and LNG: Francis Defending People and Places

francis

 
 
Francis Eatherington, Cascadia Wildands' Conservation Director was recently interviewed on a broad range topics relating to Oregon's precious coastal forests and the problems with allowing liquefied natural gas exports through Coos Bay. Please listen to what she has to say in this engaging and thoughtful interview.    Click here to listen to the radio interview.
 
 
 
 
 

Mar13

HB77 testimony: Revised water rights bill roundly panned, except by mining interests

By Pat Forgey Alaska Dispatch
March 13, 2014
 
HB 77, a bill that would streamline water use permitting, pits mining interests against tribal groups, fisherman and environmentalists.
shepardwaterfall500
 
JUNEAU — Modest changes to Gov. Parnell's controversial pro-development House Bill 77 haven't won it any new friends, but outraged those who were told they'd have only limited opportunity to comment on it.
 
"I think it is perfectly ludicrous that we're not getting enough time to comment on a bill that would remove our ability to comment," said Rosemary McGuire, a Cordova commercial fisherman.
 
House Bill 77 is aimed at speeding up permitting for development proposals, especially for small, seemingly innocuous projects, often by limiting public review. But at a public hearing Wednesday in the Senate Finance Committee, many said they feared its effects would go way beyond what was stated.
 
The bill stalled last year after House passage when Senators got concerned after hearing from constituents. After 10 months of revisions, the public was given two days to review it, and then one and a half hours to comment on it.
 
Senate Finance Committee Chair Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, was brutal with the gavel, cutting speakers off in mid-sentence after their customarily allotted two minutes were up. Others said they rushed their statements so that others could be heard.
 
Giessel blocked questions from committee members to those testifying and then closed the oral testimony portion of the hearing after its scheduled time was up. Written testimony could still be submitted, she said.
 
Even so, dozens of people in Legislative Information Offices around the state and those who visited the Capitol hearing room in person appear to have been barred from testifying in person.
Other than two mining industry representatives, the changes to the bill were panned.
 
The bill should have already been killed, the senators were told.
 
"We Alaskans seem to be facing this legislation again for some reason," said Hal Shepherd, executive director of Seward's Center for Water Advocacy.
Among those leading the charge against the House Bill 77 were fishing and environmental groups.
 
The bill would limit the number of permits that the public could comment on, and should be called the "silencing Alaskans act." said Lori Daniel of Homer.
 
One provision of the bill would change how water rights reservations are handled. The public can now file for an in-stream water right, to keep water available for fish and other needs. The Department of Natural Resources won't issue those rights, however, and the bill changes the law to have in-stream water rights being held by the state, rather than individuals, groups or tribes.
Daniel didn't like that either.
 
"This bill still takes power away from the people and hold it in the hand of state government, she said.
 
The bill was initiated by Gov. Sean Parnell, whose administration has warned that environmental groups could use Alaska's laws to prevent development unless they were changed.
Gabe Scott of Homer, Alaska Legal Director for Cascadia Wildlands, spoke against the bill.
 
"I guess we're one of those nonprofits the governor is so fearful of," he said.
The Southeast Alaska Conservation Council's James Sullivan said the Department of Natural Resources is worried about outside groups, but its solution in House Bill 77 would only punish Alaskans.
"Though improvements have been made since last year, House Bill 77 is still a flawed and destructive piece of legislation," he said.
 
Daniel Lum of Barrow said the lopsided testimony made it clear where the public stood on the bill.
 
"Can you not hear the overwhelming majority of Alaskans are against House Bill 77?" he asked.
 
The bill, he said, was the product of an all-powerful government that disregards its own citizens.
 
"This is not China, this is not Russia, but if this passes we'll be just like them," he said.
 
Support for the bill came from mining interests, including Donlin Gold and the Council of Producers, a mining industry group.
 
A statement from Stan Foo, general manager of Donlin Gold, offered support for the bill and regulatory reform in general.
 
"We also support efforts to cut unnecessary red tape without diminishing important environmental standards," Foo's statement said.
 
The closed hearing may reopen, however. Late Wednesday the Alaska Senate Majority announced that Chair Giessel will reopen public testimony on the bill Friday at 3:30 p.m.
 
“As a committee, we believe public testimony is an important part of the process,” said Giessel.  “That’s why it is critical to me, and the others, to give Alaskans an opportunity to have their voices heard.”
 
 

Mar13

Press Release: Conservation Groups Serve Timber Firms Notice of Intent to Sue over Elliott State Forest Privatization

For immediate release
March 13, 2014
 
Contacts:    Daniel Kruse, Attorney at Law, 541.337.5829
                   Josh Laughlin, Cascadia Wildlands, 541.844.8182
                   Bob Sallinger, Audubon Society of Portland, 503.380.9728
                   Noah Greenwald, Center for Biological Diversity, 503.484.7495
 
Eugene, OR — Three conservation organizations filed a notice of intent today to sue any potential timber purchasers of nearly 3,000 acres of the Elliott State Forest recently authorized for sale by the State of Oregon. Audubon Society of Portland, Cascadia Wildlands and the Center for Biological Diversity argue that if timber companies knowingly buy and log the tracts that contain marbled murrelet habitat, they will be in violation of the federal Endangered Species Act.
 
“The state knows that it is illegal to log these lands, which is why they are proposing to sell them in the first place.  Any purchaser should be keenly aware of the liability associated with logging marbled murrelet habitat in these parcels, particularly since we have already obtained an injunction against the current owner,” said Daniel Kruse, attorney for the groups serving the notice. “We plan to prosecute anyone who would purchase and log this important habitat for marbled murrelets, just as we successfully prosecuted the state.”
 
The Endangered Species Act has a strict prohibition against “taking” listed species like the marbled murrelet, which was listed as Marbled Murrelet -largethreatened with extinction in 1992. Take is broadly defined to include harassing, harming or wounding a species on the endangered species list. Past court cases have shown that logging murrelet habitat causes take of the species.
 
The land disposal, which has a March 28 deadline for sealed bids, comes in response to recent marbled murrelet “take” litigation by the three conservation groups that resulted in a preliminary injunction against logging in occupied marbled murrelet habitat on the Elliott State Forest, followed by the cancelation of 26 timber sales in murrelet habitat on the forest and significant changes to the state’s murrelet protection policy. Marbled murrelets are unique among seabirds in that they nest on the wide branches of large, old trees, making a daily trip of up to 35 miles inland to bring fish to their young. Logging of their forested habitat is the primary threat to their survival.  
 
“Privatizing public forests that give Oregonians clean air and pure water is bad public policy,” said Francis Eatherington, conservation director with Cascadia Wildlands. “Moreover, these state forests anchor wild salmon runs and house endangered wildlife like the marbled murrelet which is in jeopardy of extinction.”
 
Conservation organizations have expressed significant concern with the amount of the minimum bids set for the parcels when compared to their actual value. According to the State of Oregon, the timber value of the parcels currently for sale is $12.5 million. The minimum bid is $3 million.
 
“It would be a tragic story if Big Timber ended up with stately tracts of pubic old-growth forests at rock bottom prices,” said Bob Sallinger, conservation director at the Audubon Society of Portland. “This would be a huge loss for the Oregon taxpayer who may well end up with nothing but clearcuts and muddy rivers.”
 
“By selling off a portion of Oregon’s oldest state forest to the highest bidder the state is not only putting threatened murrelets at risk but failing to protect the public’s highest interests,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We are determined to make sure the law is followed and these rare seabirds and their irreplaceable habitat are protected from the irreversible impacts of destructive logging.”
 
The 93,000-acre Elliott State Forest, overseen by the State Land Board, is located northeast of Coos Bay and has a mandate to produce revenue for county and state services. Rather than clearcut older trees on the forest to help fund schools and roads, the conservation organizations have long encouraged the State Land Board, made up of Secretary of State Kate Brown, Treasurer Ted Wheeler and Gov. John Kitzhaber, to pursue beneficial opportunities on the forest. The conservation groups recommend the sale of key habitat on the Elliott to land trusts or other conservation interests; a timber program that focuses on restoration thinning of dense plantation forests; or a combination of both.
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Mar06

Press Release: Washington Wildlife Agency Urged to End Support for Abolishing Federal Wolf Protections

For Immediate Release, March 6, 2014
 
Contacts:
Amaroq Weiss, Center for Biological Diversity, (707) 779-9613
Nick Cady, Cascadia Wildlands, (541) 434-1463
Suzanne Stone, Defenders of Wildlife, (208) 861-4655
Tim Coleman, Kettle Range Conservation Group, (509) 775-2667/(509) 435-1092 (cell)
Rebecca J. Wolfe, Washington State Chapter of the Sierra Club, (425) 750-4091
 
OLYMPIA, Wash.— Eleven conservation organizations representing hundreds of thousands of Washington residents sent a letter to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife today urging the agency to rescind its support for stripping wolves of federal Endangered Species Act protections. The department has repeatedly expressed support for dropping the federal safeguards, most recently in a letter sent to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Dec. 13, 2013. The delisting runs counter to the best available science and ignores the values of the vast majority of Washington residents who want to see federal wolf protections Leopold wolf following grizzly bear;Doug Smith;April 2005maintained.
 
“Most people in Washington want wolves protected. The state department’s perplexing stance is out of step with the science and the values of local residents,” said Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf organizer at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Wolves are just beginning to recover in Washington and face continued persecution. Federal protection is clearly needed to keep recovery on track.”
 
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in June 2013 proposed to remove federal endangered species protections for gray wolves across most of the lower 48 states, including in the western two-thirds of Washington. The science underlying the proposal has been sharply criticized by many scientists, including a peer review panel contracted by the federal agency, which unanimously concluded the proposal was not based on the best available science.
 
“The department should have never endorsed the delisting given the extremely controversial and political nature of this issue,” said Nick Cady of Cascadia Wildlands.  “The department should instead be focused on ironing out significant shortcomings within its own wolf program, in order to prevent future regretful decisions, like the extermination of the Wedge pack.”
 
Washington’s wolf population has grown from zero wolves in 2007 to roughly 51 wolves in 10 packs at the start of 2013, with new numbers to be announced this week. The recovery has largely been driven by federal Endangered Species Act protections, which led to the reintroduction of wolves in adjacent Idaho and made it against the law to kill wolves. Wolf recovery in Washington was almost upended when several members of the state’s first pack, known as the Lookout pack, were poached. In 2011 the poachers were caught and prosecuted under federal law and the pack has started to make a comeback. In 2012 the Wedge pack was killed in a department lethal control action over wolf-livestock conflicts on public land. The mass killing resulted in public outrage that the department had acted in violation of the state wolf plan and that the rancher involved had refused to adequately protect his cattle.
 
In February, a wolf was found illegally shot and killed in Stevens County.
 
“The scientific peer review panel was unified in rejecting the federal government’s scientific basis for proposing the national delisting of gray wolves,” said Suzanne Stone with Defenders of Wildlife. “Washington state should withdraw its support of the Service’s delisting proposal and instead advocate that the Service follow the best available science, as required by law, to chart a sustainable recovery path for wolves in Washington and throughout the U.S.”
 
The Department’s support for dropping federal protections for wolves runs contrary to the sentiments of Washington residents, nearly three-quarters of whom oppose delisting, according to a September 2013 poll. That matches the strong support nationwide for continued federal wolf protections demonstrated in a national poll conducted in July 2013.
 
“The protection of wolves as part of our Washington state wildlife is a public trust issue,” said Rebecca Wolfe of the Washington State Chapter of the Sierra Club. “It is the duty of the department to care for the wildlife entrusted to them by the people.”
 
“It’s time for the department to lead, governed by science, not pandering to special interests, mythology, science fiction or their desire to sell hunting licenses,” said Timothy Coleman, executive director of Kettle Range Conservation Group. “Gray wolf reintroduction to Yellowstone National Park showed the species is essential to ecosystem health.  Washington citizens strongly support gray wolf recovery and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife should do all it can to make that happen.”
 
The letter to the department was filed by groups representing hundreds of thousands of Washington residents, including the Center for Biological Diversity, Cascadia Wildlands, The Humane Society of the United States, Western Environmental Law Center, Defenders of Wildlife, Washington State Chapter of the Sierra Club, Wolf Haven International, Gifford Pinchot Task Force, Kettle Range Conservation Group, The Lands Council and Wildlands Network.
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Feb27

Wyden-style Clearcut Causes Mudslide on O&C Lands

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
Wyden-style Clearcut Causes Mudslide on O&C Lands 
Mudslide found by neighboring resident at Buck Rising Timber Sale
(Photo by Francis Eatherington)
 
Roseburg, OR Feb 27, 2014 
 
Earlier this week, neighboring landowners discovered a mudslide in the "experimental" Buck Rising clearcut logging project on public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management in Douglas Buck Rising LandslideCounty.  The type of clearcutting used in the project has been the model for US Senator Ron Wyden's plan to double logging levels on O&C lands in Western Oregon.  
 
“I am frustrated that Senator Wyden wants more clearcutting in my community and in our state,” said neighboring landowner Ann Chamberlain.  "Clearcuts cause mudslides.  We see this everywhere on private logging lands, and Wyden and the BLM should stop making the problem worse.”
 
Pictures of a Buck Rising clearcut are featured in an anti-clearcutting billboard on I-5 near Eugene.
 
Neighboring landowners also found a second area that may soon give way and generate another mudslide.  The slides are occurring on moderate slopes, in an area clearcut in 2013 using a controversial logging practice euphemistically called "variable retention regeneration harvest" or “ecoforestry.”  Approximately 70% of the trees in the stand were clearcut, with just a few patches around the edges and in isolated islands left.  The timing of the slide is especially troubling, given that recent rainfall was not outside the norm for the area.
 
"No matter what you call it, a clearcut is still a clearcut," said Cindy Haws, a landowner and family farmer facing a similar clearcutting proposal in the White Castle forest.  “Clearcuts and mudslides like this damage our rivers and pollute our water, putting farms like mine at risk.”  
 
Despite its "experimental" status, US Senator Ron Wyden has proposed federal legislation that would mandate this style of clearcutting across approximately one million acres of public land in Western Oregon in order to generate money to bail out county politicians facing budget shortfalls. Wyden's bill overturns key provisions of the Northwest Forest Plan, the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act to permit this aggressive clearcut logging.
 
Buck_Rising_Chandra_LeGueIn addition, the BLM is copying Buck Rising's clearcut logging practices in a half dozen other logging projects around Western Oregon, including the controversial White Castle forest.  That clearcutting plan has already drawn a legal challenge from the conservation groups Oregon Wild and Cascadia Wildlands.  A group of tree sitters has weathered winter storms in one corner of the White Castle sale in an effort to save a stand of old-growth trees from the chainsaws.  
 
"Senator Wyden and the BLM should stop trying to resurrect the clearcutting and land abuse of the 1970’s,” concluded Francis Eatherington with Cascadia Wildlands.  “In 2014, we can do better than clearcutting our public lands to bail out county politicians.”
 
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Feb07

Press Release: Peer Review Questions Obama Proposal to Strip Protections for Wolves

For immediate release
February 7, 2014
 
Contact: Bob Ferris, Executive Director, 805.452.4900
              Josh Laughlin, Campaign Director, 541.844.8182
 
 
 A scientific peer review released today greatly questions the science behind the Obama administration’s proposal to strip protections for gray wolves across nearly all of the lower 48 states. The report was initiated by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the federal agency that proposed the delisting, and should compel the administration to maintain protections for the species in much of the US where it is currently listed as an endangered species.
 
“It is high time that the US Fish and Wildlife Service re-evaluate its questionable strategy of ignoring clear science and broad public 0462_wenaha_male_wolfsentiment to curry favor and avoid conflict with livestock users of public lands and the narrow and misguided interests of trophy hunters,” said Bob Ferris, executive director of Cascadia Wildlands and part of the biologist team that helped reintroduce wolves to Yellowstone and central Idaho in the mid-1990s. “At its very core, this is a case of the Service whittling the edges off a square peg to fit it in a round hole.”
 
The 1978 re-listing of the gray wolf under the federal Endangered Species Act justifiably listed the species as a whole, eschewing subspecies designations and acknowledging that the wolf was an important ecological component and an evolving species.  This was done because it was known that wolves disperse over long distances — freely exchanging genetic materials in the process — and therefore it was felt that the wolf subspecies designations established by historic skull measurements were no longer appropriate or at the very least changing with the movement of genetic materials.  The Services’ recent reclassification of the gray wolf ignored current science and embraced an invalidated approach that is political convenient, but not scientifically supportable.
  
“The proposed rule states that even if wolves were to recolonize parts of the PNW [Pacific Northwest] west of the NRM [northern Rocky Mountains] DPS [Distinct Population Segment] that they would not be ecologically or genetically distinct. The rule, however, also acknowledges the differing ecology in this area and the historically distinct wolves that used to occupy it (once considered their own subspecies). Additionally, recent research indicates that wolves just north of the PNW demonstrate ecological and genetic uniqueness typical of a ‘coastal ecotype’ (Leonard et al. 2005, Munoz et al. 2009, Weckworth et al. 2010, vonHoldt et al. 2011). Therefore, it does not seem to logically follow that wolves establishing west of the NRM DPS in the PNW would not be ecologically and genetically unique.” Dr. Sylvia Fallon in peer review document.
 
In addition to the wolf classification misstep in the Northwest (see above), there is also an issue relating to potential recovery areas in the Southern Rockies and the Northeast. Although the peer reviewers were not asked directly to address the issue of how many wolves in how many areas constitutes recovery, some of the reviewers questioned the appropriateness of Services’ rejection of potential recovery areas and delisting of wolves before they had a chance to recover.   
 
“Based on the peer review, there is no way the Obama administration can proceed with its premature plan of stripping protections for the gray wolf,” said Josh Laughlin, campaign director with Cascadia Wildlands. “It is time for the administration to put the politics aside and use the best available science to recover the species, just like we did with the American alligator and bald eagle.
 
The peer review has triggered another 45-day public comment period. This new round of comments will be considered by the Service before it makes its final decision on whether to remove federal protections for the recovering species. By the end of December 2013, the agency received over one-million public comments opposing its plan to strip protections for gray wolves.
 
Gray wolves were systematically eradicated across much of the lower 48 by the mid-1900s through trapping, hunting and poisoning. Gray wolves have rebounded in a few regions of the US, including the western Great Lakes and northern Rockies Mountains, to the point of having their Endangered Species Act protections removed. Packs have begun to establish in Oregon and Washington in recent years. Eastern Oregon is home to seven packs, while Washington has 10 packs, three of them as far west as the Cascade Mountains.
 
Recently, wolves have wondered into states like California, Utah and Colorado, where significant habitat and prey bases exist. Cascadia Wildlands believes it is critical federal protections are maintained in these states and others, where wolves are just beginning to gain a toehold.
 
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