by Nick Cady, Cascadia Wildlands Legal Director
On August 5, the Bureau of Land Management signed a new management plan for western Oregon. Cascadia Wildlands and our conservation allies protested the initial draft of this plan, but the BLM's decision yesterday largely ignored all our points of contention.
From a broad perspective, the plan will increase logging levels on federal BLM lands by 37 percent. These public lands were originally designed to serve as a refuge and protective zone for imperiled forest species, clean water, carbon storage in an effort to counter-balance the industrial clearcutting and pesticide spraying occurring on intermixed private forest lands. There is no question that this plan deeply compromises our landscape's ability to adapt to ongoing climate change and other disturbances like large-scale fires.
For over the past 20 years, these public forests had been managed under the Northwest Forest Plan, a deal brokered by the Clinton administration to end the timber wars in Oregon. The Northwest Forest Plan was not perfect, but it strived to achieve balance and protect critical resources and generally took a precautionary approach to various unknowns.
The BLM's new plan dramatically reduces almost every protection in the Northwest Forest Plan. Specifically, the plan eliminates stream side buffers, eliminates surveys and buffers for imperiled or uncommon species, disregards climate change and carbon storage, and opens up mature and old-growth forest to archaic cleacrcutting practices. The plan completely ignores the contribution of these public lands to Oregon's booming outdoor industry which is valued at over 10 billion dollars a year. The fishing industry is particularly worried given the potential impacts to Oregon's waterways.
These public forest are our homes, our playgrounds, our sanctuaries. These efforts to strip our forests away from us will not stand. Cascadia Wildlands is part of a broad coalition of conservation, recreation, and fishing groups in staunch opposition to this plan, and we are devoted to protecting these majestic lands. There will be news of our challenge soon.