Posts Tagged ‘Oregon’

Feb24

BLM Announces More Meetings on Resource Management Plan Revision

trapper

The Bureau of Land Management will be holding a series of public meetings to discuss potential changes to the Resource Management Plans for BLM forest lands in Western Oregon. These important meeting are billed as opportunities for the public to provide input about their desires and provide feedback on proposal elements.  Please find your city below and mark your calendars.  
Date
Location
City
Time
March 3, 2014
PSU Native American Center, 710 Jackson
Portland
5:00 to 8:30 p.m.
March 5, 2014
BLM Eugene District Office, 3106 Pierce Pkwy
Springfield 
5:00 to 8:30 p.m.
March 6, 2014
Croison Room Salem Convention Center, 200 Commercial Street S
Salem
5:00 to 8:30 p.m.
March 10, 2014
Floral building at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, 2110 SW Frear Street
Roseburg
5:00 to 8:30 p.m.
March 11, 2014
Red Lion Hotel Ballroom, 1313 N. Bayshore Drive
Coos Bay 
5:00 to 8:30 p.m.
March 12, 2014
BLM District Office, 3040 Biddle Road
Medford 
5:00 to 8:30 p.m.
March 13, 2014
Shilo Inn, 2500 Almond Street
Klamath Falls
5:00 to 8:30 p.m.  

 

Feb06

Senator Wyden is Holding a Hearing on the O&C Lands Today: He Should be Hearing From You

IMG_8708 copy 1On February 6, 2014 Oregon Senator Ron Wyden will be holding hearings on Senate Bill 1784.  Cascadia Wildlands is so concerned about elements of this bill that we sent our own Francis Eartherington and Nick Cady to Washington, DC to talk about to our elected officials about the dangers of this bill. Our concerns are laid out below.  These elected officials will be "hearing" from us but they also need to hear from you.  Please take a moment to read our main concerns below and then pick up the telephone and call Senator Wyden (at the numbers below) or your own senator and please click the button below to sign our O&C lands petition below.  
 
Why Senator Ron Wyden’s O&C Land Grant Act of 2013 
(S. 1784) is Bad for Oregon and the Nation
 
Cascadia Wildlands is a non-profit conservation organization located in western Oregon representing approximately 15,000 member and supporters. We work to protect and restore the wildlands and species in the Cascadia bioregion. We closely monitor and engage in many of the Bureau of Land Management’s projects in western Oregon through the National Environmental Policy Act planning process. Senator Ron Wyden’s recently released O&C Land Grant Act of 2013 (S. 1784) will have lasting negative impacts on BLM lands in western Oregon, and. conservation gains in the legislation are outweighed by the adverse impacts. Shortcomings of S. 1784 include, but are not limited to:
 
Weakens the Endangered Species Act
Senator Wyden’s legislation would over turn important and long-standing requirements of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), such as the wildlife expert consultation process, which provides the checks and balances that ensure land management projects do not jeopardize an endangered species’ existence. The BLM would be able to bypass the ESA consultation process normally required at the project level. There is no reason to weaken protection for wildlife on public lands and set a reckless precedent for other parts of the US.
 
Weakens the National Environmental Policy Act
Senator Wyden’s legislation would weaken the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Currently, individual timber sales go through a review process to ensure the full environmental impacts of the project are understood and disclosed to the public. However, S. 1784 would authorize 10 years of logging in a single Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). This completely undermines the whole purpose of NEPA, site-specific review of a project, and sets incredibly dangerous precedence for other parts of the country.
The public’s ability to legally oppose a project is also curtailed. Instead of a six-year statute of limitations to file a court challenge to an illegal action, the public is required to file a legal challenge within 30 days. This practically eliminates the public’s ability to hold the government accountable to environmental standards, a bedrock principle of every environmental law this country has enacted.  
 
Dismantles the Northwest Forest Plan, Including its Species and Clean Water Programs
The Northwest Forest Plan created a compromise between timber interests and conservationists in the Pacific Northwest.  This Plan provided “the highest sustainable timber levels from the Forest Service and BLM lands…that are likely to satisfy the requirements of existing statutes and policies.”  Only twenty years into the implementation of this plan, the O&C Land Grant Act of 2013 attempts to remove the BLM acreage from this Plan, crippling the protections that were in place for imperiled older forest imperiled species and water bodies that provide drinking water for many of Oregon’s residents.  Even the urban centers of Roseburg and Medford will have unprotected drinking water sources under this Act.
 
Prescribes a Controversial Form of Clearcutting on Public Lands
The O&C Land Grant Act of 2013 institutes a form of clearcutting on public lands called “variable retention regeneration harvest.” This logging targets mature forest stands up to 120 years old and removes the same amount of trees as a traditional “regeneration harvest” or clearcut, The American public largely opposes clearcutting critical habitat for old-growth dependent species. Older forests on O&C lands are already deficient due to past clearcutting and remaining mature forests should be protected for the carbon they store, the habitat they offer and the clean air and water they provide.
 
This kind of clearcutting is in stark contrast to the type of logging that the BLM has been doing for the past 10 years — beneficial thinning in managed plantations. Western Oregon BLM produced over 1 billion board feet from 2008 through 2012, averaging over 214 mmbf a year  offered for the last five years. The BLM has in large part been hitting and even exceeding timber targets in the Northwest Forest Plan.  Supporters of the O&C Land Grant Act of 2013 have artificially created a “gridlock” to build support for the bill.  This is entirely unsupported by the numbers.
 
S. 1784 Would Set a Dangerous Precedent for Federal Lands across the Country
After almost a century of coupling resource extraction with county revenue, the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000 (SRS) decoupled natural resources extraction from funding for county services.  This legislation has been highly successful, not only in terms of addressing county fiscal concerns, but also in shifting the debate from logging for logging’s sake to implementation of much-needed forest restoration with economic byproducts.  Recoupling payments to counties with timber production, as S. 1784 would do, would set a dangerous precedent for federal lands across other parts of the country. 
 
Similarly, we are concerned that a parochial issue for Oregon (management of the O&C lands) will be leveraged to advance the current national Congressional agenda of maximizing logging, grazing, and mining on sensitive public lands by reducing or eliminating federal environmental laws and access to the courts.  While the O&C issue is a challenging one, it is still best left to Oregonians to address through the existing planning framework provided by the Federal Land Management and Policy Act and other laws.  The BLM is already engaged in revising its management plans for the O&C lands, and circumventing that process with ill-advised legislation threatens to waste valuable Congressional appropriations and undermine existing local stakeholder trust and investment.
 
In closing, we encourage you to oppose the O&C Land Grant Act of 2013. The compromise of the Northwest Forest Plan is working in Oregon, and discretion should be left to federal land managers to develop tailored, site-specific logging projects.
 
Here are Senator Ron Wyden's numbers in Washington, DC and Oregon.  Please call today!
 
Washington D.C.(202) 224-5244
Portland (503) 326-7525
Salem (503) 589-4555
Eugene (541) 431-0229
Medford (541) 858-5122
Bend (541) 330-9142
La Grande (541) 962-7691
 
 
PLEASE SHARE THIS ACTION WITH OTHERS

Jan22

Roseburg BLM Clearcut Logging Plan Challenged

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 22, 2014
 
Contacts:
Steve Pedery, Oregon Wild  -  sp@oregonwild.org  -  (503) 283-6343, ext. 211
Francis Eatherington, Cascadia Wildlands  -  francis@cascwild.org  -  (541) 643-1309
Doug Heiken, Oregon Wild  -  dh@oregonwild.org  -  (541) 344-0675
 
Roseburg BLM Clearcut Logging Plan Challenged
Conservationists go to court to stop controversial clearcutting plan in White Castle forest; century-old trees on chopping block in sale that mimics Wyden O&C logging plan.
 
(Eugene, Oregon)  -  Two conservation organizations filed a legal challenge today aimed at blocking a controversial plan to clearcut 100-year old trees on publicly-owned Bureau of Land Management lands in Douglas County. The White Castle logging project targets century old forest, including some trees over 150 years old, using a controversial logging method euphemistically referred to as "variable retention regeneration harvest."
 
"No matter what you call it, a clearcut is still a clearcut," said Sean Stevens, Executive Director of Oregon Wild. "Clearcutting century-old forests that offer habitat for threatened wildlife on public lands in Oregon is not only immoral, in this case it's illegal."
 
At stake are 438 acres of publicly-owned forest in the South Myrtle Creek watershed, near the community of Canyonville. The Roseburg BLM District plans to use a controversial logging method known as "variable retention regeneration harvest" to clearcut over 187 acres, including trees over a century old. Bulldozing roads and other destructive activities associated with the project would target additional trees over 150 years old. Federal biologists with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have acknowledged nearly 200 acres of habitat for threatened wildlife would be damaged or destroyed by the logging.
 
"The BLM's White Castle clearcutting plan is a throwback to the logging epidemic that ravaged Oregon in the 1970s and 80s," said Cindy Haws, a former Forest Service biologist who owns land downstream in the Myrtle Creek watershed. "This kind of aggressive clearcutting harms our salmon and native wildlife, and increases the risk of mudslides and pollution of our rivers."
 
Despite controversy surrounding the sale, the BLM is claiming that clearcutting the White Castle forest will benefit the environment by removing large areas of mature and old-growth trees to create open spaces. They claim that since they intend to leave a few patches of trees around the edges and in small clumps, it isn't really a clearcut.
 
A similar and related clearcutting project, known as the Buck Rising, was carried out on Roseburg BLM lands last summer and has been highly controversial. Pictures of a Buck Rising clearcut appeared in an anti-clearcutting billboard on I-5 near Eugene, and citizen activists have occupied a portion of the White Castle forest with a tree-sitting protest, braving frigid temperatures, rain, and high winds in an attempt to protect the area.
The legal challenge raises a number of issues, including:
 
  • The destruction of almost 200 acres of forest habitat for threatened wildlife.
  • Failure to conduct a complete analysis of likely environmental damage from clearcutting.
  • Failure to consider environmentally responsible alternatives, including thinning smaller trees instead of clearcutting older forests.
  • Failure to consider the existing clearcuts that scar the watershed.  Though BLM claims the logging is needed to create open patches and young forest, their own data shows that 27% of the forests on federal lands in the region are under 30 years old.
 
"The BLM wants to clearcut this forest to try and placate politicians and logging interests, plain and simple," said Francis Eatherington with Cascadia Wildlands. "They are trying to use euphemisms like 'variable retention regeneration harvest' to put lipstick on the pig."
 
The BLM is facing intense political pressure from logging corporations and some politicians to increase clearcutting, despite the fact that the agency has largely met its timber targets for the last decade by thinning young forests instead of clearcutting older ones.
 
A bill proposed by Senator Ron Wyden in late November would expand projects like the White Castle clearcuts to more than a million acres of public land in Western Oregon to generate money to bail out some county governments facing budget shortfalls. Wyden's bill overturns key provisions of the Northwest Forest Plan, the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act, and like the BLM, has used the opinions of two prominent forestry professors to justify such logging.
 
Photos of the White Castle forest can be found here. (please credit to Francis Eatherington)
 
Photos: Buck Rising (top); White Castle (bottom) by Francis Eatherington.

 

Nov22

US Congress: Please Remember that the O&C Counties and Big Timber are Not the Only Ones in the Room

By Bob FerrisDSCN4575
 
We have all sat in restaurants where a pair of loud and bratty kids enabled by indulgent parents have ruined our well-earned, infrequent and often expensive evenings.  The reasons for these unfortunate scenes could be uneaten broccoli or uncleaned rooms standing in the way of ice cream or some other sugary dessert these pint-sized terrorist have come to expect.   We all feel for those parents and are sympathetic, but at some point we all wish they would just figure out who the parents are and who the kids are and stop annoying the crap out of the rest of us.
 
I think about this situation because it is so much like the current O&C debate that it is scary.  Let me introduce the players.  Mom is of course played by the US House of Representatives and Dad by the US Senate.  The two whining, breath-holding and table-kicking kids are played ably by the O&C counties and the timber industry.  We in Oregon are the ones sitting at the tables closest to the fray with the rest of the nation placed at the surrounding tables.  And the broccoli in this drama is taxation with the O&C timber resources being the ice cream and private industrial timberlands being the un-cleaned bedrooms in question.  You with me so far?
 
Broccoli and Taxes
 
''I do not like broccoli,'' the President said, responding to queries about a broccoli ban he has imposed aboard Air Force One, first reported this week in U.S. News and World Report. ''And I haven't liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I'm President of the United States, and I'm not going to eat any more broccoli!''  New York Times March 23, 1990
 
To be clear, I like broccoli myself but my selection of it here in this role likely springs in part from the first President Bush and his two memorable dislikes: broccoli and taxes.   And “no new taxes” so easily translates into “no new broccoli.”
 
O&C Counties and Taxes
CurrentTaxRate
 
So let’s look at our children in the story and their relationship to broccoli.  The first—the O&C counties—are a lot like the child that has never eaten broccoli but “knows” that it is nasty.  The Depression-era 1937 O&C Act allowed these coastal Oregon counties to insulate themselves from eating broccoli (i.e., paying fair taxes) and during the process accumulate populations that are generally not all that fond of broccoli either.  When you look at the above graph, the O&C counties live on the far right hand tail and the rest of the Oregonians live towards the left paying much higher rates.  
 
The Timber Industry and Taxes
Severence Tax Graphs
In my scenario the timber industry is a little bit more like Bush senior in that they once paid fair and reasonable taxes on their private timber lands and harvests and now they do not. Then they persuaded state law makers that they should not eat broccoli too.  Big timber also convinced policy makers that eating ice cream that was fed to them at great cost by parents who seemed not all that concerned that they ate it messily was the way to go. This timber and timber land taxation scenario is complicated and nuanced, but at the end of the day the taxes do not even pay for the services that are received by the timber industry and when looked at in a full-cost accounting fashion where lost ecological services and societal impacts are considered the gap between what they do pay and should pay becomes monumental. For more detailed assessment please see a report by Andy Kerr.
 
The Messy Room 
 
The mess and the messy room in all of this are the impacts to water quality, salmon populations and quality of life wrought by mismanaged federal forest assets and the minimal standards enforced by the state of Oregon on private timberlands where pesticides are used, waterways compromised, and deer, elk and bears are treated as unwelcome pests.  It is important to note that this latter management regime is the one that the US House bill wants to bring an additional 1.5 million acres of federal forests in coastal Oregon.
 
The Need for Responsible Congressional Parenting
 
We are at that time when the good of the whole room (those in Oregon and other states) and our collective dining experience demands that we get up, walk across the room and tell both parents—the US House and US Senate—to think about everyone’s interests and get their bratty children to eat their broccoli and clean up their rooms prior to the rest of us ponying up to buy them some more ice cream in the form of increased timber harvests on the O&C Lands.  
 
Better still, why not act as prudent, even responsible, "parents" and realize that this last century was the "forestry experiment" century where we sacrificed our salmon fisheries, water quality and significant federal resources and taxpayer monies and have little to show for it save a fractured landscape, lost salmon populations and, for some of us, pesticide residue in our urine.  Why not make this next century the century of restoring what we damaged in the last?  Why not embrace the lessons we are learning with the Elwha River salmon runs and understand that these forests may be better for producing salmon, clean water, carbon sequestration and recreational opportunities than this continued cycle of below cost timber sales, avoided taxes and un-neighborly behavior?  
 
 

 

More reading (and listening) on O&C Lands:

Francis Eatherington Radio Interview

O&C Schemes: What About Blacktail Winter Habitat?

The O&C Lands: Holding out for a Hero

O&C Legislation and Negotiations

Sep09

The wolf known as “OR-7” appears to have found a home

OR-7

By Geoff Norcross
OPB
September 9, 2013
 

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife says the wandering gray wolf (click on wolf picture to hear audio report) has spent the summer in Southeast Jackson County and Southwest Klamath County.

 
“What that tells you is, I think, he’s found some good habitat,” says Michelle Dennehy, Wildlife Communications Coordinator for ODFW.
 
It’s a rare bit of stability for a wolf whose travels have caught the imagination of at least two states. In September of 2011, OR-7 left the Imnaha Pack in Northeast Oregon and wandered hundreds of miles across the Cascades, becoming the first confirmed wolf sighted west of the mountains since 1937. He’s been roaming around Southern Oregon and Northern California ever since.
 
Officials believe OR-7 came to the region to find a mate. There’s no evidence he’s been successful. But he’s young – nearly 3.5 years old – and he may not be alone.
 
Dennehy says, “Where there’s one wolf, there’s another.”
“Of course, everyone would like to see OR-7 mate,” she says. “And you know what? It could happen.”
 
 
 

Aug15

On Becoming a Wolf Activist—Do the wolf waltz

By Bob Ferris

“Silence in the face of injustice is complicity with the oppressor.” Ginetta Sagan
 
The title of a recent opinion piece in a Utah paper nailed it: Making War on Wolves.  Because what we are seeing out there is truly a war waged on a wildlife species. And like with most wars there is a parallel public relations campaign making outlandish and unsupported claims against the “enemy” to justify and encourage actions that would normally be considered unethical or inhumane.  
 
Poll after poll shows that anti-wolf forces are in the minority, but their myth and fear-based campaigns can only be countered by a loud and resounding voice of compassion and rationality.  We, who believe that wild places are better off wild, need to speak up and urge others to do the same.  And we need to do that before October 28, 2013. 
 
So what do we need you to do?
 
1—Send a personal letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell (click here for draft language and addresses)
 
2—Add you name to petitions (click here) and share those petitions widely through all your social networks (please use the share this buttons at the bottom of this post).  
 
 
3—Share the following tweet (below) as Sally Jewell is active on Twitter and her staff are monitoring hash marks (simply click on the link and Twitter does the rest).
 

 
4—Support your favorite wolf advocacy organization.  (We hope it is Cascadia Wildlands but others need support for what will be a protracted campaign)
 
 
 
Follow these four easy steps—almost like a wolf waltz—and we will put these incredible creatures on a solid pathway to recovery.
 

Aug15

Governor Signs Bill to Protect Salmon Habitat by Reducing Impacts of Suction Dredge Gold Mining on Oregon Rivers

For immediate releaseMendoAu dredge
August 15, 2013
 
Contact
Forrest English, Rogue Riverkeeper, 541-261-2030
Josh Laughlin, Cascadia Wildlands, 541-844-8182
Erik Fernandez, Oregon Wild, 503-283-6343 x202
Jim McCarthy, WaterWatch of Oregon, 541-708-0731
 
Governor Signs Bill to Protect Salmon Habitat
Bill to Reduce Impacts of Suction Dredge Gold Mining on Oregon Rivers
 
Salem, OR — Anglers, landowners, outdoor recreation businesses, and river advocates celebrated yesterday as Governor John Kitzhaber signed Senate Bill 838 (SB 838). The bill takes steps to protect salmon habitat throughout Oregon through reasonable reductions in levels of harmful suction dredge gold mining.
 
“Salmon and clean water are some of the defining characteristics for Oregon’s streams and rivers,” said John Ward of Rogue Flyfishers. “This bill is a first step to ensure their protection as most Oregonian’s desire.”
 
The signed bill is a compromise with three main sections to be implemented over the next three years. The first part starting in 2014 will bring the maximum numbers of permits down to 850 statewide – the number of permits issued in Oregon before California banned this type of mining, driving a large increase of out of state miners to Oregon rivers.  The legislation gives preference to long-time Oregon miners and makes lonely minor changes to current dredging regulations.
 
The second portion of the bill directs the Governor’s office to lead state agencies in the development of  a new comprehensive regulatory framework for the legislature’s approval in 2015. This framework would be designed to meet reasonable protections for threatened and endangered salmon and trout, while simplifying Oregon’s currently complex permitting process for this suction dredging.
 
“There will be over two years of public process to ensure that these new regulations are well thought out, scientifically based and effective,” said Josh Laughlin of Cascadia Wildlands. “This is a fair and balanced process that will benefit clean water and salmon into the future.”
 
The third and final part of the bill—a 5 year moratorium on suction dredging in salmon habitat—will go into effect only if the legislature fails to act in 2015 by adopting the Governor’s new regulations.
 
"While this bill doesn't solve the problem it's an important first step in better protecting Oregon's drinking water sources from mining pollution,” said Erik Fernandez of Oregon Wild.
 
Suction dredge mining in waterways involves the use of gasoline-powered vacuums, mounted on floating rafts, which suck up the riverbed in search of gold. Scientific studies have demonstrated that the practice harms spawning habitat, invertebrate and bivalve communities that feed fish, and stirs up toxic mercury. There has been a spike in suction dredge mining in Oregon since California enacted a moratorium on the practice in 2009 due to its impacts on water quality and fish populations. Between 2005-2012, there was a 580% increase in suction dredge mining in Oregon, more than quadrupling from 414 to 2,409 permits issued. The increasing number of suction dredgers has introduced new conflicts with other river users and landowners.
 
"In response to this growing threat to Oregon's iconic rivers and streams, a broad coalition of fishermen, conservationists, outfitters, and other river enthusiasts asked the legislature this year to take reasonable, science-based steps to protect these invaluable resources," said Jim McCarthy, WaterWatch of Oregon's Southern Oregon Program Manager. "We commend our legislative leaders and the Governor for taking this first step toward better protection of our state's rivers and salmon runs."
 
Science played a major role in the construction and passage of SB 838. In California, state agencies conducted an exhaustive evaluation of the scientific literature, and concluded that the only way to prevent the negative water quality and health impacts of suction dredging is to prohibit the activity altogether. In early April, the Oregon Chapter of the American Fisheries Society sent a letter to Oregon legislators outlining the myriad impacts suction dredging has on fish. One of the letter’s recommendations was to prohibit or greatly reduce suction dredge mining in areas used for spawning by sensitive fish stocks. This followed a similar letter issued by the Western Division of the American Fisheries Society prior to the California moratorium.
 
“Studies have shown that suction dredging can mobilize toxic mercury, and reduce the spawning success of salmon species,” said Forrest English of Rogue Riverkeeper. “This bill ensures Oregon will better evaluate the available science and ensure that water quality and our iconic fish species are protected into the future.”
 
 
                                                                                           ####

Jul30

We Have Oregon Wolf Pup-age in 2013

By Bob Ferris

Although we do not have total counts at this point, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has confirmed reproduction in seven known packs this year—Imnaha, Minam, Mt Emily, Snake River, Umatilla River, Walla Walla, and Wenaha.  And here is a shot of the Mt. Emily pups.  These represent more tangible dividends from our Oregon wolf lawsuit.  Enjoy!

 

 

 

Jul08

Press Release: Bill to Protect Salmon Habitat in Oregon Passes House and Senate, Awaits Governor’s Signature

For immediate release
July 8, 2013
 
Contact:
Forrest English, Rogue Riverkeeper, 541-261-2030
Josh Laughlin, Cascadia Wildlands, 541-844-8182
 
Salem, OR — Celebrated by fishermen, landowners, outdoor recreation businesses, and river advocates, Senate Bill 838 (SB 838) has just been passed by the Oregon House and Senate. SB 838 is now on the Governor’s desk awaiting only a signature to become law. The bill takes steps to protect salmon habitat throughout Oregon through reasonable reductions in levels of suction dredge gold mining.

“Salmon and clean water are some of the defining characteristics for Oregon’s streams and rivers,” said John Ward of Rogue Flyfishers. “This bill is a balanced first step to ensure their protection as most Oregonian’s desire.”

Although the original bill called for a total statewide moratorium, the final bill is a compromise with three main sections to be implemented over the next 3 years. The first part starting in 2014 will bring the maximum numbers of permits down to 850 statewide – levels not seen since 2009 – giving preference to long-time Oregon miners and making little change to current dredging regulations.

The second portion of the bill directs the Governor’s office to lead agency and public participation in proposing a new comprehensive regulatory framework for the legislature’s approval in 2015. This framework would be designed to meet reasonable protections for threatened and endangered salmon and trout, while simplifying Oregon’s currently complex permitting process for this activity.

“There will be over 2 years of public process to ensure that these new regulations are well thought out, scientifically based and effective,” said Josh Laughlin of Cascadia Wildlands. “This is a fair and balanced process that will benefit clean water and salmon into the future.”

The third and final part of the bill—a 5 year moratorium on suction dredging in salmon habitat—will go into effect only if the legislature fails to act in 2015 by adopting the Governor’s new regulations.

“Should the Governor and legislature act in a timely manner, miners will continue to be able to use this mining technique in appropriate areas away from endangered salmon without interruption,” said Forrest English of Rogue Riverkeeper. “Only as a last resort would this legislation enact a temporary moratorium in endangered salmon habitat.”
 
Suction dredge mining in waterways involves the use of gasoline-powered vacuums, mounted on floating rafts, which suck up the riverbed in search of gold. Scientific studies have demonstrated that the practice harms spawning habitat, invertebrate and bivalve communities that feed fish, and stirs up toxic mercury. There has been a spike in suction dredge mining in Oregon since California enacted a moratorium on the practice in 2009 due to its impacts on water quality and fish populations. Between 2005-2012, there was a 580% increase in suction dredge mining in Oregon, more than quadrupling from 414 to 2,409 permits issued. The increasing number of suction dredgers has introduced new conflicts with other river users and landowners.

Science played a major role in the construction and passage of SB 838. In California, state agencies conducted an exhaustive evaluation of the scientific literature, and concluded that the only way to prevent the negative water quality and health impacts of suction dredging is to prohibit the activity altogether. In early April, the Oregon Chapter of the American Fisheries Society sent a letter to Oregon legislators outlining the myriad impacts suction dredging has on fish. One of the letter’s recommendations was to prohibit or greatly reduce suction dredge mining in areas used for spawning by sensitive fish stocks. This followed a similar letter issued by the Western Division of the American Fisheries Society prior to the California moratorium.

“Studies have shown that suction dredging can mobilize toxic mercury, and reduce the spawning success of salmon species,” added English. “This bill ensures Oregon will better evaluate the available science and ensure that water quality and our iconic fish species are protected into the future.”

                                                                 ####

Jun07

USFWS Draft Wolf Delisting Rule Exit Strategy not Recovery Plan

Statement of Cascadia Wildlands:
 
We are exceedingly disappointed in the Obama Administration, Department of Interior and US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for abandoning science and the intent of the Endangered Species Act in their draft delisting proposal of the gray wolf in the lower 48 states. The USFWS's pandering to the livestock lobby and involvement in political games will certainly impede or altogether block the wolf's continued recovery throughout the West. 
 
This political maneuver by the USFWS not only threatens the gray wolf, but places in jeopardy any species that poses difficulty for a powerful DC lobby. The Endangered Species Act was a law built to uphold science and biology, but sadly the agency tasked with enforcing it has become a political tool. 
 
For Cascadia Wildlands this additionally unsatisfactory as we watch our landmark settlement on wolf management in Oregon come to fruition—ready to serve as a shining model of what should be.  Where are similar plans in place for California, Colorado, Nevada, Utah and Washington?  As many renowned wolf biologists have already pointed out, this rule as it stands is a politically expedient “exit strategy” rather than a scientifically defensible recovery strategy.  We expected better.
 
 
Bob Ferris
Executive Director
Cascadia Wildlands
 
 

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