Posts Tagged ‘logging’


Bills Easing State Land Sales Worry Environmentalists

Capital Bureau by Hillary Borrud
May 31, 2015
SALEM — Environmental groups that pushed for legislation to protect Oregon’s Elliott State Forest from commercial logging had little success in Salem this year.
A bill that would have established a system to protect state trust land such as the Elliott State Forest, House Bill 3474, died in committee earlier this year. Now, conservationists are worried about a different bill that would make it easier for the state to sell land in the forest, which is near the southwest Oregon coast. House Bill 3533 would allow Oregon to sell state forest land, if the State Land Board — composed of the governor, secretary of state and state treasurer — passes a resolution to do so.Elliott rainforest (photo by Cascadia Wildlands)
“The last thing Oregonians want to see is a privatization of the Elliot, … particularly areas that are treasured for hunting, fishing, back country excursions and so forth,” said Josh Laughlin, interim executive director of Cascadia Wildlands.
Oregon law prohibits the sale of state forest land that was transferred from the U.S. Forest Service since 1913, which covers the Elliott State Forest. But the State Land Board says it has authority under the state constitution to sell the land, trumping statute.
The state lost $3 million on the forest in fiscal year 2013 and nearly $392,000 in 2014, because management costs exceeded revenue. That prompted Oregon to auction off three parcels of land in the forest in 2014, before the State Land Board decided to halt any additional auctions.
Environmental groups are lobbying lawmakers to oppose the bill, and Laughlin said there is also a chance the bill could be amended to allow for sale of the Elliott State Forest only if the sale maintains public access.
Julie Curtis, a spokeswoman for the Department of State Lands, said the goal of the bill is to clarify the land board’s constitutional and fiduciary responsibility to generate revenue from state lands to fund public schools.
“What this bill would do is really eliminate lawsuits and expense related to lawsuits if the land board were to get sued for exchanging or selling or trading lands within the Elliott, whether it was to a timber company or to an environmental group,” Curtis said.
The State Land Board is expected to discuss the Elliott State Forest at its June 9 meeting in Salem, where Department of State Lands employees will also present information about proposals from groups interested in managing or purchasing the forest. The agency issued a request for information earlier this year, so the board could learn more about potential options for the future of the forest. Curtis said the agency received five proposals, and there is not currently any deadline for the board to decide what to do with the Elliott State Forest.
(Photo of community members in the Elliott State Forest by J. Laughlin)

Wolf Tracks

Willamette Week by Aaron Mesh
May 27, 2015
Nick Cady is thrilled to see the return of gray wolves to Oregon’s Cascade Range. He celebrated when the wolf dubbed OR-7 was spotted south of Crater Lake in 2011, more than 60 years after hunters wiped out the species from the state.
But even as wolves return to Oregon’s southwestern mountains, Cady fears the U.S. Forest Service will authorize logging and road building that could cut off the wolves’ range.
“Federal agencies are supposed to lay out how projects will impact species,” Cady says. “What we’ve seen with wolves is they say, ‘Oh, it won’t impact them at all.’ I don’t think that is true.”
This spring, Cady’s environmental nonprofit, Cascadia Wildlands, filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking all Forest Service plans for protecting wolves while selling off timber and building roads in Oregon and Washington’s national forests. Two months later, the agency hasn’t given him a single document.
So Cady’s group has gone to court, suing the Forest Service in U.S. District Court on May 20 for its failure to respond to Cascadia Wildlands’ records request.
Lawsuits accusing government agencies of violating the FOIA have become a reliable tool for environmental groups trying to watchdog public officials.
Cascadia Wildlands’ suit is the 10th lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for Oregon in the past decade by an environmental group seeking to force the release of public records. It’s the second in less than a month. On April 29, the Northwest Environmental Defense Center in Portland sued to see water-quality records from the Columbia Generating Station in Hanford, Wash.
Cascadia Wildlands says it filed the records request March 12, seeking communications between the Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The suit says Cascadia Wildlands then wrote letters in April and May offering to let the Forest Service release the documents gradually.
The Forest Service responded in May by saying it needed more time to review the request, because it had 20 other records requests ahead of Wildlands’.
Glen Sachet, a spokesman for the Forest Service’s Portland office, declined comment to WW on pending litigation.
Oregon officials estimate 77 wolves live in the state, but just seven of them are in the western half of the state. The largest Cascade Range wolf pack, called the Rogue Pack, includes OR-7, his mate and three pups.
Cady fears that commercial logging could disrupt the wolves’ range, expose them to cars and change the behavior of deer and elk, making it harder for wolves to find food. The group also says building new timber roads makes it easier for hunters to get deep into the wilderness and set wolf traps.
He says his group wants assurances from the Forest Service that the agency’s plans take into account protections for the Rogue Pack and the next generation of Oregon wolves.
“We just hope they’re taking a hard look at the science before proceeding with irretrievable resource damage and road construction,” Cady says. “They might have taken a good, hard look at this. But I don’t think that’s the case. We’ll find out.”
A copy of the complaint can be found here.

Lawsuit Challenges Plan to Log Old-growth in Alaska

Mail Attachment-6 copy

Cascadia Wildlands yesterday filed suit against the Forest Service challenging approval of the Mitkof Island timber sale, a 4,117-acre old-growth logging project on the Tongass National Forest, near Petersburg in Southeast Alaska.

This lawsuit comes close on the heals of our challenge to the Big Thorne timber sale, another big old-growth sale that is currently on appeal before the 9th Circuit. These cases, along with a proposed revision to the overarching Forest Plan, represent a critical turning point on the Forest.

Long story short, the era of profitable old-growth logging is over, but the Forest Service and a handful of influential logging industry die-hards have been working overtime trying to prop it back up. Timber sales like this one on Mitkof Island are a last gasp of a dying industry.

The industry is dying—there is little doubt about that—but the question is whether it will leave enough healthy forest behind to sustain the wildlife and subsistence opportunities that rural Alaskans have traditionally enjoyed. The ecosystem is at a tipping point. 

Mitkof Island is a microcosm for the legacy of Tongass logging and habitat loss. Extensive areas have been clearcut on the National Forest, and (even worse) clearcutting on adjacent privately owned land.

One result is that the local deer population has crashed and is not recovering. Without enough old-growth providing shelter, the herd starves in winter. Petersburg residents no longer can go hunting out their back door. 

And, the result of that is that the State of Alaska is pursing ‘predator control,’ aiming to cull the wolf population by 80%. Without adequate habitat, the whole predator-prey system (of which humans are a part) comes crashing down.

In spite of huge controversy, on Mitkof the Forest Service determined that their logging project would have “no significant impact” on the environment, so conducted only a cursory environmental review. This is rare, and extraordinary. As the environmental consequences intesify, why would the agency be paying less attention to them?

Contrary to that claim, our lawsuit catalogues a number of significant impacts:

  • Loss of winter habitat for deer, further stressing the local population;

  • Harm to subsistence hunters, particularly low-income residents who cannot afford to travel to distant islands for deer;

  • Threats to the Alexander Archipelago wolf, which is currently being considered for protection under the Endangered Species Act, from loss of deer habitat and the likelihood of increased trapping;

  • Damage to the Queen Charlotte goshawk, a raptor that relies on old-growth forest.

As Rebecca Noblin, the Alaska director for our co-plaintiff Center for Biological Diversity, said, “I suppose that if you don’t look for problems then you’re not going to find them.”

The case was filed on behalf of Cascadia Wildlands, Greater Southeast Alaska Conservation Community, Greenpeace, Center for Biological Diversity, and the Alaska Wildlife Alliance, in federal district court in Anchorage. Cascadia’s staff attorneys are joined by the superhero lawyers at CRAG law center arguing the case. 

You can read a copy of the suit here.


Cascadia Challenges BLM Clearcutting Just Northeast of Eugene

Press Release
For Immediate Release
January 15, 2015

Nick Cady, Legal Director, Cascadia Wildlands, 541-434-1463
Doug Heiken, Conservation and Restoration Coordinator, Oregon Wild, 541-344-0675

Conservationists Challenge Largest Eugene BLM Clearcut in 20 Years

EUGENE, Ore.— Conservation organizations filed a lawsuit today challenging the largest clearcut approved on federal land in Lane County in twenty years. The Second Show timber sale proposes 259 acres of public lands clearcutting and is located on public Bureau of Land Management lands just outside of Springfield, Oregon near Shotgun Creek.  Clearcutting will have significant impacts to the watershed, which is already degraded, and will impact a popular recreation area.                                            

“It is a shame to see the BLM moving forward with this sale after the incredible amount of public opposition it received,” said Nick Cady, legal director with Cascadia Wildlands. “This sale could have real and devastating consequences on watershed health, salmon, and clean water for the surrounding communities.”

Despite the large scope of the project, the BLM neglected to analyze the effects of the project in conjunction with its ongoing commercial logging and road construction in the same area.  A basic tenant of environmental law is that federal agencies cannot evaluate projects in a vacuum, they must take into account the additive impact to the surrounding community based upon current ongoing or proposed projects.  In this case, the BLM has already moved forward on 1500 acres of commercial logging and over 25 miles of logging and access roads. The Second Show sale proposes clearcutting one of the few healthy, maturing stands remaining in the area.

“These forests are older than your grandpa and are developing fine habitat if we leave them alone.  Every indication is that we need to protect forests like this for fish, wildlife, water quality, and to protect our climate,” said Doug Heiken of Oregon Wild.  “We have worked with BLM for the last decade helping them meet timber targets by thinning dense young forests.  Now they are reverting to the destructive clearcutting practices of the past. It feels like a slap in the face.”

Cascadia Wildlands and Oregon Wild officially raised these concerning issues to the Bureau of Land Management numerous times, but the Bureau neglected to respond due to purported mistakes by the Springfield postal service.  

For a copy of the complaint click here: Second Show Complaint



By Gabe Scott
Cascadia Wildlands filed a lawsuit today to stop the U.S. Forest Service’s Big Thorne timber project on Prince of Wales Island in southeast Alaska. Big Thorne is by far the largest logging project on the Tongass National Forest since the region’s two pulp mills closed about 20 years ago.
Mail Attachment-9
The lawsuit argues the federal government failed to heed research by Dr. David K. Person, a former Alaska Fish and Game wildlife biologist and foremost expert on Alexander Archipelago wolves. A formal declaration by Person, written after he retired and filed with Cascadia’s appeal of the project, says that Big Thorne would be the final straw to “break the back” of the ecosystem dynamic between the wolves, deer and hunters on the island.
We’ve joined forces with Greater Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, Greenpeace, Center for Biological Diversity, and The Boat Company to file the suit, and are jointly represented by CRAG law center.
The legal outrage at the heart of this lawsuit is political suppression of science by the Forest Service and Parnell administration. Dr. Person first circulated his concerns within the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, where he worked at the time. The comments were buried by the agency and by higher-level state bureaucrats to implement Governor Parnell’s “one voice” policy, which suppresses troublesome science in order to maximize logging.
Dr. Person’s strongly held concerns were discovered through public records requests. Then, after confronting the Forest Service with the material in comments on the Big Thorne draft environmental impact statement, the agency simply ignored it.
 In this case, that gambit by the two governments backfired. The declaration, prepared after Person quit ADF&G, was filed by the plaintiffs in an administrative appeal of the August 2013 Big Thorne decision. The project was put on hold for nearly a year while Dr. Person’s declaration was reviewed.
A special six-person Wolf Task Force with personnel from the Forest Service, ADF&G and the federal Fish and Wildlife Service, reviewed the declaration. Opinion was evenly split. This is not surprising, given political pressure and the state’s one-voice policy. Breaking ranks was a Forest Service biologist who has done wolf research on the island.
All of which fits the “one-voice” pattern that has been embraced so corrosively by our last three Governors. It starts when a field-level scientist with the State ADF&G discovers a fact or makes a finding that implies concern for some development project. They write it up. Politically appointed bureaucrats review the biologists’ statements, cherry-picking the facts that support development and eliminating statements that raise concerns. The lower-level biologist is not allowed to talk with people outside the agency.
The Alexander Archipelago Wolf
The wolf population on Prince of Wales looks to have dropped very sharply in recent years. The US Fish & Wildlife Service is currently contemplating their 12-month finding on a petition to list the wolves under the ESA.
Nobody has a firm count on the number of wolves, but the basic dynamic is understood. Wolves on POW face two problems: (1) a legacy of old clearcuts, that are now thickets devoid of habitat value; and (2) unsustainably high hunting and trapping levels, spawned by the vast network of logging roads.
The habitat problem is well-recognized by scientists; we are suing the Forest Service to force their land managers to actually apply that knowledge.
Without enough old-growth winter habitat in the forest for shelter, deer populations plummet during deep-snow winters. Without enough deer to go around, wolves and hunters compete with one another for not-enough-deer. That never ends well for the wolf. Hunters lose out too, because without the big-tree habitat the deer still starve in winter.
Dave Beebe winter deer
POW is the most heavily logged part of southeast Alaska, and what remains is increasingly important to wildlife. The project would cut more than 6,000 acres of old-growth.
Theoretically, the Forest Plan “conservation strategy” protects the deer/ wolf/ hunter relationship by requiring areas of the forest to keep enough forest habitat to support 18 deer/ sq mi.. The Big Thorne area is already well below this figure, and the proposed logging would push it even lower.
Scientists, including Dr. Person, have been hollering about the 18 deer/ sq mi. threshold for years, to no avail. Without enough underlying habitat, the whole system of interaction between deer, wolves and hunters breaks down, they say. Without habitat, fiddling around with hunting regulations doesn’t matter.
That’s not what the Forest Service wants to hear, however, so they’ve ignored it. This reality interferes with their plan to stay out of roadless areas by concentrating logging in sacrifice zones like Prince of Wales. The Forest Service don't want to admit to locals that cutting all those trees means they won’t have enough deer to hunt.
The State, who is in charge of managing wildlife, just wants to blame wolves.
Which brings us to the emotional heart of the issue.
Some Humans Don’t Love Wolves
The second threat to wolves is unsustainable hunting and trapping. A determined trapper or two can take every wolf in an area, and that’s what’s been happening on Prince of Wales.
In fall of 2012, Dr. Person determined through DNA sampling that there were about 29 wolves in the project area, in two packs.
In spring of 2013, he could only account for six or seven remaining. That winter, at least 15 wolves were killed legally, more when you count poaching.
Last winter was even worse, reducing the lone remaining pack of 13 to only 4.
The Forest Service claims that problem should be left to State game management to more strictly regulate hunters and trappers.
But is that right? I disagree that the folks who hunt and trap wolves on POW are blood-thirsty, stupid, and they almost always care deeply about a healthy environment.
The problem isn’t mean people, it’s bad management. Two factors are at play. First of all, the vast network of logging roads exposes pretty much every wolf to hunting. Work by Dr. Person showed that when more than 40% of a wolf home range is logged and roaded, it can become a population sink. The Forest Service proposal would bring it up to 80%.
The second factor is that wolf trappers are do-it-yourself predator controllers. When deer populations are low— and they are surely dropping as a result of all the logging— trappers kill a lot of wolves to help the deer.
The Forest Service strategy is to trust the State of Alaska board of game to keep wolf trapping sustainable. In reality, that’s obvious nonsense. The State would cheerfully kill the last wolf it if meant an easier venison steak. State sponsored predator control includes plans to kill 80% of the wolves around Petersburg, and all the wolves off another island.
Even if you could trust the State, and you can’t, hunting regulation can’t be the solution because the State has no population estimate for wolves. State management is predicated on knowing how many of a critter there are, calculating how many you can kill and still leave enough to breed, and fixing a harvest limit. But if you don’t know how many wolves there are, how can we say what harvest limit is sustainable?
There is also the problem of poaching. Dr. Person’s work has shown illegal harvest can be roughly equivalent to legal trapping.  With deer shortages driving them, how could the State really regulate experienced and motivated trappers on remote Prince of Wales?
“All Rise…”
What Governor Parnell tried for so long to keep hidden, now will see the light of day in front of a Federal judge.
Deer hunters, wolf lovers, and scientists all have a direct stake in the outcome of this fight.
We’ll keep you posted.



Wyden Bill Boosts Cuts, Conservation

by Saul Hubbard
The Register-Guard
November 26, 2013
U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden is seeking to roughly double timber harvests on Western Oregon’s federal forest­ land under a much-­anticipated bill unveiled Tuesday.
Like a plan backed by Ore­gon U.S. Reps. Peter DeFazio, Greg Walden and Kurt Schrader that passed the House this fall, Wyden’s bill would split in half the former Oregon & California Railroad Co. lands, with half facing increased logging and the other half dedicated to conservation. Logging of “old growth” forest stands older than 120 years old would be prohibited on all 2.1 million acres.
Unlike the House bill, however, Wyden’s plan doesn’t create a state-run trust to take over management of the land where logging would increase. The senator from Oregon, along with environmental groups, had expressed concern that such a trust would circumvent key federal protections for the environment and endangered species on more than 1 million acres of Oregon forestland.
Wyden’s plan would ramp up timber production on the O&C lands to an average of between 300 million and 350 million board feet a year, well Buck Rising Variable Retention Harvest 2above the 150 million board feet produced on average over the past decade, but less than the estimated 400 million to 500 million board feet a year that the House bill would allow.
Flanked by Gov. John Kitz­haber, prominent Ore­gon timber industry executives and some environmentalists at a Tuesday morning press conference, Wyden, the chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said his bill “can pass the Senate and get signed into law” — unlike the House plan for the O&C lands, which President Obama has said he would veto.
Wyden, who has been crafting his proposal with aides and prominent forestry scientists for much of the year, said it would put people back to work and provide a steady stream of revenue for cash-strapped Oregon timber counties, while avoiding large forest clear-cuts and generally protecting forest ecosystems.
“We have found a way to create good-paying jobs in rural Oregon and protect our natural treasures,” Wyden said. “And we did it by rejecting radical policies on both ends of the spectrum.
“This legislation ends the ‘stop-everything’ bureaucratic approach that beats even the most responsible timber projects into submission, and at the same time it acknowledges that the days of producing a nearly billion-foot (annual) cut are not coming back.”
Reactions to the plan were swift — and divided — Tuesday.
While a handful of environmental groups offered mild to strong support, most major environmental organizations slammed the proposal as “a bad deal” that would undermine efforts to restore Ore­gon’s “old growth” forests under the Northwest Forest Plan, a timber compromise reached in the early 1990s.
Environmentalists took issue with several facets of the bill, including the proposed cut method and Wyden’s efforts to reduce the amount of environmental analyses required for timber sales.
Wyden is proposing a practice known as “ecological forestry,” championed by forestry professors Norm Johnson of Oregon State University and Jerry Franklin from the University of Washington. The practice mandates that loggers leave untouched around a third of the trees in any individual stand and allow scrubs and brush to grow unperturbed on the forest floor after the cut.
“It’s fundamentally different ecologically” from clear-cuts on private forestland, Franklin said. “This will sustain most of the forest processes and animals even when you’re harvesting. (Clear-cutting) terminates the forest system completely.”
Josh Laughlin of Eugene-­based Cascadia Wildlands, who has visited test sites of the forestry practice in Southern Oregon, disagreed.
“It’s basically a clear-cut with retention patches (of trees) here and there,” he said.
Laughlin acknowledged that the practice “is apples and oranges compared to what happens on private forestlands” and that it could create “potentially useful” forest habitat.
“But,” he added, “should we see it across half the O&C lands? No.”
Wyden’s bill also proposes conducting only two environmental impact studies — one for “moist” northern forests, one for “dry” southern forests — shortly after the legislation is enacted, which would then remain valid for all timber sales for a decade. It would require all legal challenges to a 10-year logging plan to be filed within 30 days of the plan being finalized. That’s a significant shift from current policy where all individual timber sales can require an environmental analysis and there are few limits on legal challenges.
But Wyden argued that environmentalists use the current system to drag out timber sales, creating instability for logging companies and their workforces.
Under the bill, “we give everybody one bite at the apple for 10 years, in a very tight time window,” he said.
Chandra LeGue, a field coordinator for Ore­gon Wild, described the proposed review process as “extremely disappointing.” She said the “vast majority” of timber sales currently go through unchallenged, but environmentalists “need to hold (forest managers) accountable” on controversial individual sales.
“Without that ability to get site-specific environmental reviews, it takes the level of scrutiny (of timber harvesting) up to the 30,000-foot view rather than the 300-foot view,” she said.
Mixed reviews also came Tuesday from leaders of timber-dependent counties and logging industry interests.
Wyden’s plan is estimated to create approximately 1,650 jobs, and Oregon O&C counties would get at least 75 percent of all timber revenue.
But the proposed level of harvest is far too low to produce enough revenue to replace the federal timber payments that the O&C counties now receive. The payments were designed to compensate rural counties for revenue they lost after environmental concerns caused a sharp decline in logging on federal lands.
This year, Oregon’s O&C counties, including Lane County, will receive $35 million in timber payments. While no annual revenue estimate for those counties from Wyden’s bill is available yet, Wyden’s staff projects that to generate the equivalent $35 million, annual timber production would have to hit 700 million to 800 million board feet.
That’s a political impossibility, Wyden said, and that’s why he is working on a broader companion measure — set to be introduced next year — that would stabilize “safety net” federal funding to all local governments that produce natural resources.
Given Obama’s threat to veto the House-approved O&C bill, Lane County Commissioner Sid Leiken said he supports Wyden’s proposal, referring to it as “the plan timber counties have been waiting for.”
“This bill is the best opportunity we have for a long-term solution that will produce jobs in the woods, build on Lane County’s important recreation economy, and support the critical services like public safety that the O&C counties desperately need,” he said.
Conversely, Doug Robertson, a Douglas County commissioner who heads the Association of O&C Counties, said counties are not certain that the bill would provide a dependable supply of timber revenue.
Nick Smith, a spokesman for pro-timber Healthy Forests Healthy Communities, said the proposal would not “provide the level of certainty and job creation as compared to the bipartisan” House bill.
“Citizens in Western Oregon’s rural, forested communities deserve a solution that actually fixes the problems plaguing Western Oregon’s O&C forestlands,” he said. “We believe the most important measurement of any solution is the number of jobs it will support and create for rural Oregonians.”
Wyden said he will make passing his O&C bill his top priority in the Energy and Natural Resources Committee in 2014.
“I’m going to do everything I can to move this quickly next year,” he said.

Press Release: Sen. Wyden Drops Logging Turducken* Before Holiday

November 26, 2013
For Immediate Release
Contact: Josh Laughlin, Campaign Director, 541.844.8182
               Francis Eatherington, Conservation Director, 541.643.1309
Eugene, OR — Eugene-based Cascadia Wildlands today expressed disappointment with the O&C forest legislation released by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) that affects management of over two-million acres of public forestland in western Oregon. The conservation organization believes that it is a bad deal for the environmental values that make Oregon special and is committed to working with the Senator to see it drastically improved.
“At a time when the demand for clean water and fish and wildlife recovery is high, Congress should be doing all it can to ensure these Oregon values are embraced, not eroded,” says Josh Laughlin, Campaign Director with Cascadia Wildlands. “This bill guts the landmark Northwest Forest Plan’s environmental protection measures, limits citizen participation and judicial review in forest planning, and doesn't solve the funding crisis faced Buck Rising Variable Retention Harvest 2by some western Oregon counties.”
Cascadia Wildlands has worked closely with Senator Wyden's office in the recent past on some of the Wilderness proposals in the bill, including Devil's Staircase and Wild Rogue, but believes those efforts should not be coupled with the logging bill for western Oregon. In the current legislation, the conservation gains are far outweighed by the costs to clean drinking water, fish and wildlife, and recreation opportunities. The bill unravels the framework of the 24-million acre Northwest Forest Plan by shrinking streamside buffers in half that were designed to benefit salmon and clean water and eliminating the old-growth forest reserve system established to protect older forest-dependent species.
“Some of the things in this proposal are what we saw George W. Bush and Big Timber attempt during that dark period, notably trying to weaken the conservation standards for fish and wildlife in the Northwest in order to ramp up the cut,” says Francis Eatherington, Conservation Director of Cascadia Wildlands. “Instead of squeezing our cherished public forests for every last penny, Congress, state and county politicians should take a fresh look at the timber harvest and severance tax in the state, the absurdly low property taxes in some of the most affected counties, and capitalize on the jobs and raw logs being shipped to Asia.”
Cascadia Wildlands has long supported federal forest management in western Oregon that prioritizes restoratively thinning dense tree farms, which generates timber volume for local mills, employs a steady work force in the woods, and raises revenue for counties. Senator Wyden’s bill moves away from this restorative approach toward a controversial clearcutting practice called “variable retention harvest” in forested stands up to 120 years old where 70% of the trees are logged.

* Turducken ( a deboned turkey that is stuffed with a deboned duck that is stuffed with a deboned chicken.

Take action by sending Senator Wyden a personalized comment.



Blog: Rhetoric on Tongass Doesn’t Match Actions

by Gabe Scott
A nail is being driven in the coffin on Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. Is it a coffin for the old-growth logging industry; or for Tongass wolves, deer and salmon? It is up to you to decide.
Recent announcements by the Obama administration offer glimmers of hope. Secretary Vilsack’s July 3, 2013 announcement stated they’ve decided to speed the Waterfall, Coastal Alaska south of Cordovatransition away from old-growth logging. This is welcome news.
But the rhetoric doesn’t match actions on the ground. The Forest Service recently decided to log the Big Thorne timber sale. Logging over 6,000 acres of ancient forest on Prince of Wales Island, Big Thorne would be the biggest, most destructive Forest Service sale in a generation.
Ironically, Big Thorne is dubbed a “stewardship” project. That’s nonsense.
Environmentally, Big Thorne would demolish critical old-growth habitat. Prince of Wales Island has already been logged within an inch of its life. Logging the big tree stands that remain spells disaster. David Person, the world’s foremost expert of Alexander Archipelago wolves, writes that Big Thorne would likely cause “the collapse of a sustainable and resilient predator- prey ecological community.”
Second-growth logging isn’t any solution either. Unlike the Pacific Northwest, Alaska’s forests aren’t suited to farming. The second-growth that exists is too small to log. Mills can’t use them. And unlike the Pacific Northwest, where fire-suppression provides an environmental rationale for second-growth thinning, Tongass forests will be most productive by leaving them alone.
The problem as well as the solution is seen in the vast network of degrading logging roads on Prince of Wales. A generation of building new roads, while neglecting the old ones, has created a maintenance backlog of tens of millions of dollars. Old roads dump sediment into streams. Old culverts block fish passage.
Logging is only a minor part of the economy; salmon are a huge part. So it makes sense to take some of the $200,000-per-job subsidy of the Big Thorne sale, and spend it instead restoring streams and fixing roads.
Cascadia, with our close allies at Greenpeace, Greater Southeast Alaska Conservation Community, and the Center for Biological Diversity, have appealed the Big Thorne sale. But lawsuits are a weak tool compared with grassroots pressure.
That’s where you come in. I encourage all Cascadians to sign the following petition (and share it with your friends)!

Delusions of grandeur on the Tongass

By Gabe Scott, Alaska Field Director

CORDOVA, AK—Big plans are in the works on Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, the nation’s largest.

It seems everyone has some grand scheme in mind for the largest remaining old-growth forest in the country.

The Forest Service is planning huge new timber sales, which they say will bridge the gap to a transition to second-growth. (As I type this post my inbox dings, announcing the arrival of a Decision to log over 6,000 acres of old-growth on Prince of Wales Island. Uh oh. Better make this quick).

The State of Alaska wants the feds to hand over 2 million acres of the Tongass so the State can manage them as a tree farm. Oh, Alaska. Our Governors say the cutest things.

Sealaska, the big regional Alaska Native corporation, is pushing land claims of its own, wanting some tens of thousands of acres to manage how it wants. This one has some merit – Alaska Natives are owed additional land. But surely there’s a better way.

The timber industry, through a lobbying group called the Southeast Conference, is pushing for a revised Forest Plan that would yield more and more profitable timber sales. 

Conservation organizations like Trout Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy, and Audubon are pushing their own grand visions, which would permanently protect the most ecologically valuable acres from logging.

On top of the various visions are layered a bewildering array of collaborative working groups, teams, roundtables, task forces, committees and subcommittees.

The recent Tongass forest plan 5-year review presented an opportunity for Cascadia to put forward our own grand vision for the Tongass. Good! We were feeling left out. Here is what we had to say.

But here’s the thing. Every one of these grand visions and grand collaborative efforts has merit; and every one of them is doomed to fail. There are no silver bullets. No amount of new timber volume will bring back the good ‘ole days of logging. No amount of new designated Wilderness will ensure ecosystem health.

I for one wish we would all just stop looking for a final solution, and come to grips with the fact that living in harmony with nature is a life’s work. More than a life’s work, actually. Nobody has all the answers and nobody ever will. The best we can do is learn from our past, be honest about the present, and be cautious about what we leave for the future.

On the Tongass, we need to stop drawing maps, get our heads out of the clouds and our boots on the ground. Here on earth there’s good work to be done. There are hundreds of culverts blocking fish passage, for example, that everyone agrees need to be fixed, but that no-one is willing to take on because it’s hard, messy, expensive work. It will only be done by putting one foot in front of the other.

Don’t get me wrong, I love me some visionaries. But at the “end of the day” (is there even such a thing?), future generations won’t judge us by what we thought or what we said. They’ll judge us by what we DID.

In that vein, I’d better stop talking to you all and crack open the Big Thorne Timber Sale ROD. A hundred and forty-eight million board feet they say? Holy cow. We’ve got some work ahead of us. 


Press Release: Sensitive Wildlife Habitat and Drinking Water Supply Protected Above McKenzie

For immediate release
March 27, 2013

Doug Heiken, Oregon Wild, 541.344.0675,
Susan Jane Brown, Western Environmental Law Center, 503-914-1323,
Josh Laughlin, Cascadia Wildlands, 541.434.1463,

EUGENE – United States District Court Judge Anne Aiken has found that the United States Forest Service broke the law in seeking to carry out the controversial Goose logging sale near McKenzie Bridge, Oregon, without a detailed analysis of potential environmental damage.  This logging sale has drawn intense opposition from local residents and landowners concerned about harm to wildlife and nearby streams.  Represented by the Western Environmental Law Center,  the conservation organizations Oregon Wild and Cascadia Wildlands filed a legal challenge against the planned logging in 2012.

“The Judge's decision that the Goose logging sale is illegal is vindication for the concerns of local residents and conservationists,” said attorney Susan Jane Brown of Western Environmental Law Center.  “The McKenzie River and surrounding forests is too important to our community, and to the people of Oregon, to allow this kind of unwise logging project to go forward.”

The judge found that the Forest Service failed to properly analyze the impacts of the 2,100-acre logging project-an area the size of 2000 football fields.  Potential environmental harm includes damage to the 9,700-acre Lookout Mountain Potential Wilderness Area above McKenzie Bridge, and logging within protected stream buffers and sensitive species habitat.

The legal ruling comes on the heels of passionate opposition by members of the local community. Many residents of the McKenzie Bridge area believe they weren't properly notified about the project with some only hearing about it once timber sale flagging was put up adjacent to their properties. Residents have collected nearly 5,000 signatures opposing the logging project.

“We are not opposed to all logging,” said Doug Heiken, Conservation and Restoration Coordinator with Oregon Wild. “But the Forest Service has a responsibility to the American people to ensure that projects like this don't damage fish and wildlife habitat or pollute streams that provide drinking water to our communities.  With the Goose logging project, the Forest Service was clearly on the wrong track.”

The judge also found that the agency failed to fully consider the harm logging in the area could have on threatened wildlife like the northern spotted owl.

“While there are some restorative components to this project such as thinning in dense young stands, the Forest Service chose to pair them with aggressive logging in mature forest near streams, threatened species habitat, and within a potential wilderness area,” says Josh Laughlin with Cascadia Wildlands. “It is imperative the Forest Service focus on restoring what has been damaged by past mismanagement and abuse, and move away from controversial projects that make conditions worse in the forest.”

Conservation groups believe the Forest Service should instead be spending limited taxpayer dollars on projects that restore degraded landscapes, like restoration thinning in young tree plantations formed by past clearcutting, decommissioning harmful roads, and enhancing fish and wildlife habitat. While the Forest Service did analyze an alternative in the Goose project that focused on restoration thinning in young plantations that the organizations supported, the agency instead chose to adopt the much more controversial alternative.

The organizations are  represented by attorneys Susan Jane Brown and John Mellgren at Western Environmental Law Center.



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