Posts Tagged ‘Elliott State Forest’

Aug13

Guest Opinion: Why Hunters Should Oppose Sale of Elliott State Forest

By Marnie Allbritten, guest opinion for the Oregonian
August 8, 2014
 
Elk and deer hunters are obsessive about our chosen pastime.  We invest countless hours in scouting and preparing for the fall hunt.  We travel hundreds of miles in search of elk, deer and other game animals. We spend thousands of dollars every year on equipment, optics, fuel and gadgets. Yet without access to high quality lands to hunt on, all this expense and preparation is wasted.
 
Oregon hunters are facing the very real threat that we could lose access to hundreds of thousands of acres of quality hunting lands within our state. Weyerhauser, the giant logging corporation that owns 2.6-million acres in Oregon and Washington, recently announced it was closing much of its forestlands to the general public.  From now on, hunters will have to buy a special permit DSCN2174costing up to $350 if they want to hunt on those lands even though the elk and deer belong to the public.
 
But Weyerhauser's new "pay to play" arrangement isn't the worst threat to access for hunting in Oregon. The Oregon State Land Board, made up of Gov. John Kitzhaber, state Treasurer Ted Wheeler, and Secretary of State Kate Brown, is seriously considering a proposal to privatize the 93,000-acre Elliott State Forest just east of Coos Bay. In future years, hunters visiting the Elliott may be greeted by locked gates and "no trespassing" signs rather than open public access. Three parcels of this public forest, totaling over 1,400 acres, have already been sold to logging companies and at least one of them has been posted with "private property" signs.
 
I have explored and enjoyed the Elliott for many years, and the countless miles I have walked in this beautiful place have showed me just how special it is. For those willing to work for it, the Elliott provides fantastic opportunities for elk and deer hunting—free of charge. It also contains spawning streams for some of the strongest salmon and steelhead runs left in the Oregon Coast Range.  This forest is also unique among Oregon's state public lands in that it contains more than 41,000 acres of old-growth forest over 100 years old.  The opportunity to hunt and explore among these giants is an experience to be treasured — and passed down to our children and grandchildren.
 
But all this is being jeopardized by politicians in Salem.
 
The Oregon Land Board is considering privatizing the Elliott because of a dispute over logging levels.  A portion of the revenues from the Elliott go to support the Oregon Common School Fund, and though the actual dollar amount that makes it to classrooms is tiny, logging also pays for a huge state bureaucracy. In 2011, an effort to nearly double logging levels on the Elliott sparked a fight with environmental interests.  The state lost that battle, and now rather than crafting a balanced, sustainable approach to managing the Elliott, Oregon is considering selling it off to private corporations so they can log it instead.
 
Hunters tend to be politically conservative people, and we are reluctant to get involved in battles over logging and environmental rules.  But the debate over privatizing the Elliott State Forest — and losing access to even more quality hunting lands — is an issue that should hit home for every hunter on Oregon.  We have too much at stake to sit this one out.
 
Hunters concerned about the loss of access to quality hunting lands should get in touch with Gov. John Kitzhaber, Secretary of State Kate Brown and Treasurer Ted Wheeler and tell them to end any further consideration of privatizing the Elliott State Forest.  Instead, they should be focusing on developing a balanced, sustainable plan for this forest.  The Elliott should be managed for the conservation of values like elk, salmon, and old-growth, for human needs like clean water, recreation, and responsible timber harvest.  
But above all, the Elliott should remain in public hands, for all Oregonians to use and enjoy.  No hunter should ever encounter a "no trespassing" sign when visiting the Elliott State Forest.
 
Marnie Allbritten of Roseburg is a retired Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist and a former board member for the Umpqua chapter of the Oregon Hunters Association.
 
Here is a link to the original article.

Jun03

Lawsuit Launched to Protect Threatened Marbled Murrelets From Clearcutting on Liquidated Oregon State Forests

For Immediate Release, June 3, 2014
 
Contacts:    
 
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
 
mamu_fws
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.
 
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May20

Murrelets Found at East Hakki Land Sale on Elliott State Forest

by the Coos Bay World
May 19
 
COOS BAY — The new owners of a controversial tract of South Coast forest land auctioned off this spring may face new obstacles to harvesting its timber.
 
Coast Range Forest Watch, an environmentalist group that conducts marbled murrelet surveys in the Elliott State Forest, says it’s recently detected murrelet nesting behavior in the East Hakki Ridge parcel.
 
The parcel was recently auctioned off to Eugene-based Seneca Jones Timber.
 
The Department of State Lands cited the declining value of the state’s Common School Fund, fed by timber proceeds from the Elliott,Marbled Murrelet -large as its motivation for the sales.
 
Forest Watch volunteer Amanda St. Martin said that in order to determine marbled murrelet nesting behavior, surveyors need to witness murrelets flying at or below canopy height in that area.
 
She said that May 13 and 14, volunteers saw just that.
 
“Two surveyors on two separate days saw them flying below canopy height,” St. Martin said. “That’s a pretty good indication that they need that area to nest or to get to their nest.”
 
Logging in identified marbled murrelet habitat in the Elliott was barred in 2012 under a federal district court injunction.
 
But East Hakki Ridge wasn’t covered by that injunction because it had never been surveyed for murrelet nesting activity.
St. Martin said the group is trying to change that.
 
“We have already submitted the data to Oregon Department of Forestry, Fish and Wildlife and the Department of State Lands,” she said.
 
The East Hakki Ridge is already the subject of a lawsuit filed by Cascadia Wildlands, the Portland Audubon Society and the Center for Biological Diversity.
 
The groups are seeking to have the parcel’s sale to Seneca Jones blocked on the grounds that state law prohibits the sale of state forest lands originally belonging to the federal government.

 

Apr21

Elliott State Forest parcel to be sold to Seneca Jones, drawing environmental lawsuit

By Rob Davis, Oregonian DSCN2264
April 21, 2014
 
The Oregon Department of State Lands has struck a deal to sell a 788-acre parcel of the Elliott State Forest near Coos Bay to the Seneca Jones Timber Co. for $1.8 million.
 
The timber company’s owner, Kathy Jones, had said the company pursued the land, which it intends to clear cut parts of, to provoke a fight with environmental groups.
 
It certainly worked: Three environmental groups filed suit Monday to block the purchase and simultaneously sought a temporary injunction to prevent the sale of part of the 93,000-acre state forest.
 
Two other parcels in the Elliott are also being sold to a timber company, a development announced Monday by the Department of State Lands. The Scott Timber Co. was the winning bidder on two other parcels in the state forest being sold, the agency said, with a $787,000 bid on 355 acres called Benson Ridge and a $1.8 million bid on a 310-acre slice of Adams Ridge.
 
The groups — Cascadia Wildlands, Audubon Society of Portland and the Center for Biological Diversity — said in legal filings that the sale was expressly prohibited by law and that the land shouldn't be logged in order to protect the marbled murrelet, a threatened seabird that nests in coastal forests.
 
“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 Bob Sallinger, Audubon's conservation director. “It is time for the state to look for real solutions that protect the Elliott and address the needs of the Common School Fund.”
 
Like the spotted owl before it, the murrelet has become a cornerstone species for environmental groups seeking to curtail logging in Oregon. The bird’s population in Washington, Oregon and California has steadily declined over the last decade.
 
The State Land Board oversees some 700,000 acres statewide and has a constitutional responsibility to maximize revenue from the land to fund K-12 education. But because logging was halted in the 93,000-acre Elliott State Forest by environmental lawsuits, land management there will cost the state about $3 million this year.
 
The land sale would fill that gap for just a year, raising questions about the state forest’s future. State officials have said they consider the sale as a test case to determine the forest’s value for larger sales or land swaps.
 
The sale has had hiccups.
 
Parcels saw their value drop after state and volunteer biologists discovered murrelets nesting there during summer surveys. Timber once worth an estimated $22.1 million dropped to $3.6 million, according to state appraisals. Stands occupied by the small seabird can't be logged and aren’t worth as much.
 
While worth less on paper, a state contractor’s appraisal theorized the reduced value may allow small timber companies to buy the land cheap and log it anyway, skirting laws to reap the original, higher value.
 
We'll update this story as we learn more.
 
 

Apr21

Press Release: Suit Filed Challenging Sale of Elliott State Forest Land

For Immediate Release, April 21, 2014
 
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.  Elliott Rally
 
“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.
 
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Apr08

Cascadia Wildlands and Sound Choices

By Bob Ferris
 
The_Rosannas_With Seth Plunkett-Libby Fenstermacher-Andrew Mosman-Joshua Heying
So much of what we do to keep things wild involves sound—embracing the good ones versus fighting the offensive.  For instance, we want wolves howling in the wilderness but don’t want to hear the constant lawnmower-motor burping of suction dredge engines in our wild spaces.
 
Similarly, we much prefer to listen to the wind whistling through tall trees in the Elliott State Forest and the gentle “keer”of marbled murrelets to the rip-snort of a chainsaw.  The same is true for rushing waters and waves as opposed to off-highway vehicles and jet boats.  
 
We all have similar catalogues of good and bad sounds.  What we hear and experience through our auditory senses seems almost as important as what we harvest in wilderness through our eyes, nose, feet and fingers.  
 
This importance of good sounds is probably why we at Cascadia Wildlands convene so many events over and around music.  Good sounds bring us together.  Take Pints Gone Wild hosted by Ninkasi Brewery on the first Monday of each month.  That gathering is all about good sounds—old favorites, new artists and those making joyful or innovative noise for the wildlands we love.  All of them generously donating their time to help us keep it wild.
 
_MG_0112But it does not end there because we also have special events such as the upcoming one at Luckey’s Club on April 12 and our barn-burner (figuratively not literally) Hoedown for Ancient Forests on May 10th.  
 
And it is not just about our own music events.  We will also be at the Oregon Country Fair and String Summit again this summer.  So please come to these events and tell your friends. There is really no rule out there that says we cannot have major amounts of fun while taking material actions to keep it wild.  
 
 
 

 

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.  
 

 

 

 

 

 

Apr03

Do Not Let the “Timber Witches” Have the Elliott

By Bob Ferrisuntitled
 
“Kathy Jones, Seneca Jones’ co-owner, said her company didn’t bid on the land because her mill needs lumber but because she and her two sisters refused to be bullied by “eco-radical” environmental groups and believed no other timber companies made an offer.” Oregonian April 2, 2014

 

We do not traditionally respond well to ironic comments made by timber industry owners.  That is why we thought that we would respond comically to the Seneca Jones sisters calling us and others essentially “environmental bullies” when they buy timber that they claim that they do not need, simply to make a point.  Ridiculous actions deserve ridiculous responses.
 
The only point they have made is that they have enough money to spend it recklessly.  So we thought that we would respond with humor appropriate with their attempt to buy bits of the Elliott at pennies on our dollars. (Please click on "movie poster" to the right to get the full effect)
 
Offensive? Maybe.  But we find it offensive for a timber company to ask for more discounted public resources so that they can have additional wherewithal to buy timber they do not need.
 
“They’re elitist environmentalists, they’re sent from Washington D.C., they’re not about doing anything reasonable,” she said. “The hypocrisy is without limit. And we’re sick and tired of it in the state.” Seneca Jones Co-Owner Kathy Jones in the Oregonian April 2, 2014
 
Perhaps—judging from the above quote—the sisters think that they have truly enchanted us. That seems like the only logical explanation when you have the plane-flying, horseback-riding, SCUBA-diving sisters calling people living on the economic edge “elitists.”  And as to being sent from Washington DC, my sense is that these three forget how much time they and their lobbyists spend in our nation’s capital and hope that we do also.  
 
Seneca Clearcut at DawnThe enchantment theory might also explain why the sisters might think that their “vision” for the Elliott expressed so well by this photograph at left of a Seneca Jones clearcut at dawn being sprayed with herbicides by helicopter matches Oregonian’s vision for our precious public lands.  And for all those out there touting the wildlife habitat benefits of clearcutting, please show me the elk and deer habitat created here or in the photograph at right of a Seneca clearcut and landslide.  This is not what we need or want in the Elliott.Seneca landslide
 
“Clearcutting mimics nature,” Jones said in an interview. “If these lands are awarded to us, and we maintain them as we do all of our private timberlands, we will be clearcutting and replanting Douglas fir.” Timber Company Says It Will Clearcut If It Buys Public Forestland in EarthFix April 3, 2014
 
And for those who think we are over stating our case, the above quote from Seneca Jones sister Kathy speaks volumes about their scorched earth policy.
 
 
Join us and help support our efforts to find a conservation solution that helps all of us and protects some of the last and largest stands of mature, native forest in coastal Oregon.  

 

 

 

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
 
 

Feb06

State Stops Timber Sales to Help Bird

The Associated Press by Jeff Barnard
February 6, 2013
 
The state Department of Forestry has agreed to cancel more than two dozen timber sales on state forests because they threaten the survival of the marbled murrelet, a seabird that nests in large, old trees.
 
The proposed settlement filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Eugene comes in a lawsuit brought by three conservation groups, Cascadia Wildlands, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Audubon Society of Portland.
 
It alleged that the department violated the Endangered Species Act prohibiting the harming, or take, of a protected species by failing to protect stands of trees on the Elliott and other state forests where threatened marbled murrelets build their nests.
 
The murrelet is a robin-size bird that lives on the ocean and flies as far as 50 miles inland to nest in old growth forests. The bird was declared a threatened species about two decades ago, making it a factor in the continuing court and political battles over logging in the Northwest.
 
The settlement comes as the state has been trying to increase logging on state forests to provide more funding for schools and counties and more logs for local mills.
 
The Elliott State Forest, where the bulk of the canceled sales are located, typically provides millions of dollars to the Common School Fund. But in 2013 it cost the fund $2.8 million because of reduced logging, according to the Department of State Lands. The rest of the canceled sales are on the Tillamook and Clatsop state forests.
 
State Department of Forestry spokesman Dan Postrel said the department began canceling timber sales in 2012 as it revised its protection policy for the murrelet, and that the settlement wraps up a total of 28 timber sales.
 
Postrel said the department is reviewing science related to the murrelet to “help inform the best long-term plans and strategies.”
 
The state managed the Elliott for years by protecting habitat for threatened and endangered species such as the murrelet but scrapped that approach after federal biologists refused to approve revisions that allowed more logging. Instead, the state adopted a policy used by private timberland owners that refrains from logging where protected species are actually living.
 
The lawsuit argued that rather than preserving a large area of trees around a murrelet nest, the department was leaving small patches and clear-cutting close around them, leaving the nests vulnerable to attacks by jays and ravens that eat the young.
 
The birds are difficult to spot when they fly swiftly into a stand of trees at dawn. The nests are difficult to spot, as well. The eggs are laid in a mossy depression on a large branch high in a tree. Laughlin said the department also has agreed, in a separate action, to stop its practice of sending its own observers to verify murrelet sightings by a contractor, which conservation groups feel violates the accepted scientific protocol.
 
“This was an incredibly arbitrary and reckless process that we believe, in the past, led to loss of occupied murrelet habitat,” Laughlin said.
 
Oregon Forest Industries Council President Kristina McNitt said in an email that the organization was worried that the state may not be able to meet its obligations to the Common School Fund and counties after withdrawing the sales.
 

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