Contact: Nick Cady, Cascadia Wildlands, 314-482-3746
John Meyer, Cottonwood Environmental Law Center, 406-587-5800
Travis Bruner, Western Watersheds Project, 208-788-2290
Sarah Peters, WildEarth Guardians, 541-345-0299
Bozeman, MT – Nearly four years after critical habitat protection was granted to bull trout, federal land management agencies have still not determined whether existing land management plans are compatible with protecting the fish. Today, conservation groups Cottonwood Environmental Law Center, WildEarth Guardians, Western Watersheds Project, and Cascadia Wildlands sent a notice of intent to sue to both the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service over failures to properly evaluate the consequences of actions taken within bull trout critical habitat.
Bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) formerly ranged throughout the Columbia River and Snake River basins, extending east to headwater streams
in Montana and Idaho, into Canada, and in the Klamath River basin of south-central Oregon. Unfortunately, human activities have driven the trout close to extinction. Activities adjacent to streams, such as logging, grazing, road construction, and off-road vehicle use, increase water temperature and add sediment to bull trout habitat. Of all fish species found in western rivers and streams, bull trout need the coldest and cleanest water, making them particularly vulnerable to water quality impacts.
“It isn’t just the logging, grazing, road construction and ORV use that threatens these fish,” said John Meyer, Executive Director of Cottonwood Environmental Law Center and attorney on the case. “Those threats are compounded by increasing water temperatures due to climate change. The agencies really must address impacts in critical habitat if bull trout are going to survive.
Bull trout were protected as a threatened species in 1999 and critical habitat was designated in 2010. Designated critical habitat for the bull trout includes 19,729 miles of stream and 488,251.7 acres of reservoirs and lakes in the States of Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Idaho, and Montana. With this designation, the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management were required to consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service. Consultation requires the agency to take a step back from on-going and proposed management actions to make sure bull trout are recovering in these specially protected areas.
“Unfortunately, the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management have continued with business as usual,” said Travis Bruner, Executive Director of Western Watersheds Project “We hope that this notice causes them to change course and start protecting bull trout.”
“Bull trout are the ‘canary in the coal mine’ for water quality and water quantity in western states,” said Sarah Peters of WildEarth Guardians. “Protecting them protects a whole suite of aquatic species as well as the watersheds on which human communities increasingly depend.”
"The Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management need a 'time out' until they talk to fish experts about the impacts of their landscape management projects on the imperiled bull trout," says Nick Cady, Legal Director with Cascadia Wildlands. "Otherwise, this iconic fish will continue its perilous journey towards extinction."
Amaroq Weiss, Center for Biological Diversity, (707) 779-9613
Josh Laughlin, Cascadia Wildlands, (541) 844-8182
Mike Petersen, The Lands Council, (509) 209-2406
John Mellgren, Western Environmental Law Center, (541) 525-5087
OLYMPIA, Wash.— Eight conservation groups filed a petition late Friday requesting that the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife enact rules that sharply limit the use of lethal control of wolves to respond to livestock depredations. Most prominently the petition asks the state to require livestock producers to exhaust nonlethal measures to prevent depredations before any lethal action can be taken. In 2012 the Department killed seven wolves in the Wedge Pack despite the fact that the livestock producer who had lost livestock had taken little action to protect his stock.
“The killing of the Wedge Pack in 2012 was a tragic waste of life that highlights the need for clear rules to limit the killing of wolves, which remain an endangered species in the state,” said Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf organizer with the Center for Biological Diversity. “There are effective nonlethal measures proven to protect livestock that can, and should, be used before killing wolves is ever considered.”
The groups filed a similar petition last summer. They withdrew it based on a promise from the Department to negotiate rules — in an advisory committee established to help implement Washington’s Wolf Conservation and Management Plan — that would encourage the use of nonlethal measures by ranchers as well as produce standards for the Department to adhere to before itself resorting to lethal control of wolves. But livestock producer and sports-hunting groups on the committee refused to consider the petitioners’ proposals, and the Department has indicated it plans to move forward and introduce its own far-less-protective lethal wolf-control rule.
The groups also argue that rules are needed to ensure adherence to Washington’s wolf plan, which was crafted with input from a 17-member stakeholder group, more than 65,000 written comments from the public, and a peer review by 43 scientists and wolf managers. Despite the plan’s formal adoption by the Fish and Wildlife Commission in 2011 as official state policy, Department officials and the Commission have publicly stated they view the plan as merely advisory and key provisions of the plan were ignored when the Wedge Pack was killed. The Commission also adopted a rule last summer that allows wolves to be killed under circumstances the wolf plan does not permit, and the Department has proposed additional changes and definitions of terms to allow even more wolf killing.
“The return of wolves is a boon for Washington,” said Mike Petersen, executive director for The Lands Council. “Not only is it good for the forest and mountains of Washington that need the balance provided by top predators, but a fledgling tourist industry is developing around the viewing of this majestic creature.”
Wolves were driven to extinction in Washington in the early 1900s by a government-sponsored eradication program on behalf of the livestock industry. They began to return from neighboring Idaho and British Columbia in the early 2000s, and their population has grown to 52 wolves today. Yet Washington’s wolves are far from recovered and face ongoing threats. Last fall a wolf in Pasayten was killed by a deer hunter, and in April of this year, a reward was offered by state officials and conservation groups for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of those responsible for the illegal shooting of a wolf found dead in February in Stevens County.
The petition to increase protections for wolves was filed by groups representing tens of thousands of Washington residents, including the Center for Biological Diversity, Cascadia Wildlands, Western Environmental Law Center, Gifford Pinchot Task Force, The Lands Council, Wildlands Network, Kettle Range Conservation Group and the Washington State Chapter of the Sierra Club.
Today’s filing of the petition with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission starts the clock ticking on a 60-day statutory period within which the state must respond. If the petition is denied, groups intend to appeal for a final decision by Governor Inslee.
Francis Eatherington, Cascadia Wildlands, (541) 643-1309
Noah Greenwald, Center Biological Diversity, (503) 484-7495
Bob Sallinger, Audubon Society of Portland, (503) 380-9728
Lawsuit Launched to Protect Threatened Marbled Murrelets From Clearcutting on Liquidated Oregon State Forests: Logging of Parcels Liquidated from Elliott State Forest Will Harm Marbled Murrelets, Other Wildlife, Water and People
EUGENE, Ore.— Conservation groups filed a notice of intent to sue Seneca Jones and Scott Timber today to prevent the imminent clearcutting of three large parcels of Elliott State Forest lands that were recently sold to these companies. The notice presents evidence that the clearcut logging conducted by both companies will harm federally protected marbled murrelets, seabirds that come inland to nest and breed in mature and old-growth forests. The Endangered Species Act prohibits actions that injure or kill threatened species, including destruction of occupied habitat.
In 2012 Cascadia Wildlands, the Center for Biological Diversity and Audubon Society of Portland initiated a similar lawsuit against the Oregon Department of Forestry for clearcutting occupied murrelet habitat on the Elliott State Forest. The court stopped the logging of occupied mature forest, ultimately forcing the state to cancel 28 timber sales.
"These parcels, which once belonged to all Oregonians, should never have been sold in the first place," said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity in Portland. "Now that they’ve been sold, we’re not going to allow them to be clearcut and contribute to the extinction of the unique marbled murrelet."
The Adams Ridge #1, Benson Ridge and East Hakki Ridge parcels are valued at $22.1 million. The state sold them to Seneca Jones and Scott Timber for $4.2 million. Clearcutting the parcels will hurt marbled murrelets by eliminating the trees they need for nesting and by fragmenting the forest, which leads to trees blowing down and increased predation of the birds and their nests.
“This is just irresponsible behavior on behalf of the state and these companies,” said Francis Eatherington, conservation director with Cascadia Wildlands. “The state is proceeding with a plan to divest itself of these lands at an outrageous discount with the understanding that these corporations will clearcut these lands in plain violation and disregard for federal law.”
Current research on marbled murrelet populations in the Pacific Northwest shows populations are declining every year and continued logging on the three state forests is a likely factor. If the state continues with its divestment of Elliott State Forest lands, this large sanctuary of mature forest will be lost, subjected to harsh clearcutting and pesticide spraying practices of the Oregon Forest Practices Act. Oregon is home to a vital part of the West Coast murrelet population, but if the state does not figure out an effective solution for the Elliott soon, the population declines could worsen.
“It is time for the State to look for real solutions for the Elliott now that it has been forced to abandon decades of unsustainable, illegal logging practices,” said Audubon Conservation Director, Bob Sallinger. “Liquidating public lands at bargain basement prices is a non-solution and we are confident that clear-cut logging of the Elliott’s old growth forests remains illegal regardless of whether it is conducted by the State or private timber companies.
Recent, certified surveys conducted on all three of these parcels determined they were occupied by marbled murrelets. Although very elusive, the marbled murrelet, when observed below the forest canopy, is demonstrating that it is nesting in that forest stand.
The conservation organizations — Cascadia Wildlands, the Center for Biological Diversity and Audubon Society of Portland — are represented by outside counsel Daniel Kruse of Eugene, Tanya Sanerib of the Center for Biological Diversity, Nick Cady of Cascadia Wildlands, Chris Winter of the CRAG Law Center and Scott Jerger of Portland.
For immediate release
May 12, 2014
Contact: Josh Laughlin, Cascadia Wildlands, 541.844.8182
According to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, OR-7, the famous male wolf that traveled from the Imnaha pack in northeast Oregon all the way to northern California nearly three years ago, has likely found a mate in southwest Oregon and could be fathering pups. This speculation is based on GPS collar data from OR-7 and remote camera images of a black-colored female and OR-7 in the same area. The camera is located in a remote area of the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest east of Ashland.
If ultimately confirmed, this would be the first wolf pack in Oregon’s Cascades since they were systematically exterminated from the state over 60 years ago. Today, Oregon is home to nine confirmed wolf packs and at least 64 wolves.
The following are press statements from Josh Laughlin, Campaign Director with Cascadia Wildlands:
“The news of OR-7 likely finding a mate and fathering pups is an incredible new chapter for wolf recovery in Oregon. If confirmed, this further sets in motion wolf recovery across the Oregon Cascades and into northern California.”
“The wildlife recovery success story for the gray wolf in the Pacific Northwest continues with this news. The information we have suggests that OR-7 has likely found a mate and fathered pups. This is incredible for the wildlands and communities of southwest Oregon, which have been devoid of wolf packs for too long.”
High-resolution photos of the two wolves can be found here. More background on gray wolf recovery in Cascadia can be found here.
I remember the first Hoedown for Cascadia's Ancient Forests real well. It was back in the early days of Cascadia Wildlands in the early 2000s when we were trying to figure out how to creatively raise revenue to support our conservation programs and have fun at the same time. Why not throw a beer party at a board member's horse-riding facility in the countryside near Cottage Grove, pipe in some bluegrass music through the riding arena speakers and bring in a caller? We all like keg beer, bluegrass and Lane County's pastoral countryside, right? But what about square dancing? It seemed like a recipe for possible success. We went for it.
It is likely we found the conservative, cowgirl who called out the squares to canned country music records in the "services offered" section of the Cottage Grove Sentinel. Somehow, people turned out. In droves. Perhaps it was the biodiesel shuttle bus from Eugene with a keg on it that lured the crowd. It was fun watching people who have never square danced before alemaning and dosidoing thier partners under the covered horse arena as cold drizzle fell and a large bonfire raged that October evening. Volunteers even had to make an emergency late-night run into Cottage Grove to find a dive bar and another keg to keep the crowd fueled and dancing into the night.
The Hoedown has grown up a bit since then. Ninkasi, Oakshire Brewing, the Eugene Weekly and others sponsor the event. 40 volunteers make it happen. We've replaced the turntable with live bluegrass. Cutting-edge bands like the Dickel Brothers, Fog Horn String Band, and Conjugal Visitors have graced the flatbed trailer stage and picked to renowned square dance callers, like Bob Ewing, who has called the dances at the Hoedown for at least the last four years. This year, we've got Blue Flags and Black Grass lined up to whip you all into a square dancing frenzy. But it is absolutely still the same Hoedown at the same beautiful property with great live bluegrass and amazing community members joining together to celebrate the beauty of Cascadia through square dancing, networking and merry making into the night. If you are a prospective first-timer, click here for more information on the Hoedown.
I hope you will join us for the 11th annual Hoedown for Cascadia's Ancient Forests this May 10, from 6-10:30 pm. We've got kids (and adult) activities planned, including a tater sack race, water balloon toss and mini soccer with the Red Aces of Eugene Metro Futbol Club. It is lining up to be a spectacular evening with a veggie chili dinner, libations and good times to be had in the countryside just west of Cottage Grove. Click the button below for advance tickets and round trip shuttle bus ride from Eugene. Cascadia WIldlands looks forward to seeing you at Avalon Stables on May 10. Don't leave your Hoedown attire in the closet!
Contact: Francis Eatherington, Cascadia Wildlands, (541) 643-1309
Bob Sallinger, Audubon Society of Portland, (503) 380-9728
Noah Greenwald, Center for Biological Diversity, (503) 484-7495
EUGENE, Ore.— Conservation organizations filed a lawsuit and temporary restraining order today challenging the state of Oregon’s disposal of part of the 93,000-acre Elliott State Forest northeast of Coos Bay. The legal complaint submitted by Cascadia Wildlands, Audubon Society of Portland, and the Center for Biological Diversity identified the 788-acre East Hakki Ridge parcel as prohibited by law from being sold.
“Privatizing public land in this case is illegal and a bad deal for Oregonians who cherish these lands for hunting, sightseeing, the clean water they provide, and for the unique fish and wildlife habitat they offer,” said Francis Eatherington, conservation director with Cascadia Wildlands. “Instead of being greeted with welcome signs, Oregonians will now be confronted with locked gates and clearcuts.”
In 1957 the Oregon legislature enacted a law specifically to prevent this kind of disposal of the Elliott State Forest. ORS 530.450 withdraws from sale any lands on the Elliott State Forest that were national forest lands on February 25, 1913. The East Hakki Ridge parcel, located just south of the Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area east of Reedsport, falls within this category. According to the purchase and sale agreement dated April 15, 2014, the Seneca Jones Timber Company bought the parcel for $1,895,000 even though the state of Oregon valued the timber at $5,590,000.
“The state has illegally clearcut the Elliott for decades, and now that it has been forced to stop, it is engaging in an illegal selloff,” said Audubon Conservation Director Bob Sallinger. “It is time for the state to look for real solutions that protect the Elliott and address the needs of the Common School Fund.”
The privatization scheme is in direct response to a recent successful legal challenge brought by the conservation organizations, which greatly curtailed clearcutting in old-growth forests on the Elliott State Forest, where the threatened marbled murrelet nests. The imperiled seabird is unique in that it flies upwards of 40 miles inland to lay a single egg on a wide mossy limb in the region’s remaining older rainforests. Clearcutting of its habitat is the species’ primary limiting factor.
“The Elliott State Forest is critically important to the survival of the marbled murrelet, coho salmon, and hundreds of other species. It holds great promise for storing carbon to help insulate both people and wildlife from the devastation of climate change,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center. “It’s not in the best interest of Oregonians or the planet to sell the Elliott to the highest bidder to be converted to an industrial tree farm. There’s a path forward for the state to protect important habitat and generate revenue for schools in Oregon.”
The East Hakki Ridge parcel is one of five forested tracts the Department of State Lands has authorized for privatization. Combined, the parcels consist of approximately 2,700 acres of public land on the west side of the Elliott State Forest. One of the parcels being considered for disposal this fall contains the highest production of Endangered Species Act-listed coho salmon in the Oregon Coast Range, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and also is home to threatened marbled murrelets, according to survey data. And the state of Oregon has just revealed that it will soon be analyzing the possibility of selling off the entire Elliott State Forest.
Conservation organizations continue to urge the State Land Board, made up of Gov. John Kitzhaber, Secretary of State Kate Brown and Treasurer Ted Wheeler, as well as other state leaders in Salem, to pursue a solution for the Elliott that protects the unique forest and keeps it in public ownership while also satisfying the school fund mandate required by these lands.
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
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.
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 threatened 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.
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 maintained.
“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.
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 County. 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.
In 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.”