In The Media

Feb11

Exciting Leadership Transition at Cascadia Wildlands

Dear Cascadia Wildlands Supporters,

Bushwacking through head-high ferns to find the elusive Devil’s Staircase waterfall. Watching salmon thrash upstream to their natal grounds. Hearing the pre-dawn keer of the marbled murrelet high in the canopy. Knowing wolves are reclaiming their rightful place back in Cascadia. Educating and empowering communities to confront power imbalances. These are the things that keep me feeling alive and ever committed to the work of Cascadia Wildlands.

It is an exciting time for me. I’ve recently been asked by Cascadia Wildlands’ Board of Directors to serve as our interim executive director as Bob Ferris phases into retirement.

I’m determined to lead our powerful team into the future and further realize our vision of vast old-growth forests, rivers full of wild salmon, wolves howling in the backcountry, and vibrant communities sustained by the unique landscapes of the Cascadia bioregion.

I’m grateful for what Bob brought to Cascadia Wildlands over the past three years to make us a stronger organization. His expertise in conservation biology, decades of non-profit experience, and his ability to dig up the dirt on and expose the despoilers of wild nature are just a few things that have helped take us to the next level.

Photo taken July 6 2013 of OR17 with a 2013 pup of the Imnaha pack. Subadult wolves assist in the raising of the pups. Photo courtesy of ODFWEvery day, I’m amazed at what we have accomplished for a conservation organization our size. I get even more fired up for what we have our sights on. Because 2015 may be the year gray wolves get established in the Kalmiposis Wilderness, northern California, Oregon’s Willamette National Forest, and Washington’s Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Much of Oregon’s remarkable wolf recovery has been facilitated by our legal challenge that halted wolf killing in Oregon and ensuing landmark settlement agreement that created the strongest wolf plan in the country.

Please dig deep to help Cascadia accomplish this critical work in the 2015 year by making a tax-deductible donation today.

Breathtaking photo of the Tongass National Forest. Photo courtesy David Beebe.With continued determination, we will have a lasting conservation solution for Oregon’s 93,000-acre Elliott State Forest now that we have ground old-growth clearcutting to a halt. This year we hope to put a nail in the coffin of the proposed 150-foot-wide, 230-mile-long liquefied natural gas (LNG) pipeline and export facility slated for Coos Bay that would wreak havoc for salmon, wildlife and our climate. And we will continue to fight tooth-and-nail against the 6,000-acre Big Thorne old-growth timber sale in Alaska’s fabled Tongass National Forest (image at left) in Cascadia’s northern reaches.

Having been with Cascadia Wildlands essentially since its formation over 15 years ago, I’m excited, rejuvenated and ready to lead the organization into the future. Thanks for believing in us, taking action when called on, and supporting our conservation work over the years and into the future. Don’t hesitate to contact me with any thoughts or questions.

Will you join me in supporting Cascadia right now?

For a wild and free Cascadia,

Josh Laughlin Signature

Josh Laughlin
Interim Executive Director/Campaign Director
jlaughlin(at)cascwild(dot)org

P.S. You can also mail a check or money order made out to Cascadia Wildlands and send it to POB 10455, Eugene, OR 97440.

 

Photo Credits: Top left, Josh Laughlin, Interim Executive Director of Cascadia Wildlands, at Devil's Staircase in 2012. (Photo courtesy Cascadia Wildlands.) Middle right, Subadult and pup from the Imnaha Pack, taken July 2013. (Photo by ODFW.) Bottom left, Breathtaking photo of the Tongass National Forest. (Photo courtesy of David Beebe.)

 

Jan17

Suit Aims to Stop Clearcut Logging Near Springfield

The Register-Guard by Diane Dietz
January 16, 2015
 
A pair of environmental groups filed suit in U.S. District Court on Thursday to halt a series of clear-cut-style timber harvests totaling 259 acres on federal land along Shotgun Creek, about 25 miles north of Springfield.
 
Seneca Sawmill Co. in ­Eugene bought the timber for $4.2 million in December from the federal Bureau of Land Management and got the green light to begin logging preparations this winter, the agency said.
 
The project is a step toward the bad old days of large-scale clear-cuts on public land, said Nick Cady, legal director for Cascadia Wildlands. “This time they are only leaving two trees per acre. It’s going to look like private land clear-cutting in Oregon,” he said.
 
Environmental nonprofits Cascadia Wildlands  and Oregon Wild, with 22,000 members between them, are seeking an injunction from a federal judge in Eugene.
 
BLM spokeswoman Jennifer Velez declined comment on the lawsuit.
 
The suit comes as logging proponents advocate for clear-cutting on federal lands as an essential tool for meeting increased demand for lumber as the homebuilding sector recovers nationally.
 
Velez said the sale — called Second Show — would keep some trees, some in groups, some dispersed, on the logged terrain. The logging would be done on roughly a dozen tracts, all near each other but with some strips of forest left between them.
 
The cuts “will appear as ‘skips’ and ‘gaps’ on the landscape with scatterings of individual trees and small groupings of trees throughout,” she said in an email.
 
But the environmental groups say that the Second Show’s extensive logging and road building would damage quality and be hard on salmon, including spring chinook.
 
Shotgun Creek flows into the Mohawk River, which pours into the Mc­Kenzie River — and then into the Willamette.
 
“This is a drinking water supply,” Cady said. “It’s a watershed that runs directly into Springfield. We haven’t seen large scale logging on public lands right next to a community the size of Springfield in a really long time.”
 
The environmental groups are asking the court to halt the Second Show because the BLM failed to account for the cumulative effects of logging in the watershed and failed to account for the environmental groups’ objections in the environmental approval process.
 
About one-quarter of the Mohawk watershed is publicly owned BLM land, and the remainder is mostly owned and used as industrial timberlands, according to the lawsuit.
 
“The Mohawk watershed is already degraded by private land logging. It’s already classified as ‘not properly functioning,’ which is the lowest classification for watershed health,” Cady said.
 
The BLM failed to analyze the cumulative impact of another logging sale — for 1,500 acres for commercial thinning — nearby, the lawsuit said.
“Federal agencies cannot evaluate projects in a vacuum,” the lawsuit said. “They must take into account the additive impact to the surrounding community based upon current ongoing or proposed projects.”
 
That requires that the BLM produce an environmental impact statement that includes input from the National Marine Fisheries Service, Cady said.
 
The lawsuit also contends that the BLM failed to evaluate the environmental groups’ objections, because the agency improperly ruled that the groups missed the deadline for submission.
 
The groups mailed their objections in a certified letter with days to spare, Cady said, but agency officials weren’t available to receive the letter until after the deadline. Agency rules require the BLM to accept the postmark date as the time of submission, according to the lawsuit.
 
Jan15

Cascadia Challenges BLM Clearcutting Just Northeast of Eugene

Press Release
For Immediate Release
January 15, 2015

Contact:
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

Dec11

State Starts Process of Hunting up Buyer for Elliott State Forest

 

Associated Press, by Jeff Barnard

 

December 9, 2014
 
The state of Oregon is looking for an unusual buyer for Elliott State Forest — someone willing to pay a good price, respect the needs of threatened fish and wildlife, and leave areas open to hikers and hunters.Elliott rainforest (photo by Cascadia Wildlands)
 
At a meeting Tuesday, the State Land Board directed its staff to develop a proposal to elicit offers from public or public-­private entities to buy the 90,000-acre forest in the Coast Range.
 
Parties could include the federal government, a tribe, state agency or local government.
 
Board spokeswoman Julie Curtis said a purchase proposal could be ready in time for the board’s June meeting.
 
The board — comprised of the governor, secretary of state and state treasurer — is looking for a way to maximize forest revenue to benefit schools. But court rulings upholding protections for threatened birds and salmon have stymied timber sales.
 
Revenue from Elliott State Forest once contributed up to $8 million a year for schools but has turned into a $3 million expense.
 
Bob Ragon of Douglas Timber Operators said he was disappointed the board did not endorse a proposal from his organization that would keep the forest as a Common School Fund asset while seeking someone to manage it to produce timber for sale and meet environmental laws.
 
“It could take them a long time to get that sorted out,” he said about the board decision to sell the forest. “I don’t know how much time they really have.”
 
Josh Laughlin of the conservation group Cascadia Wildlands said the board’s choice fit within his group’s vision for the forest, decoupling it from the Common School Fund while maintaining conservation value.
 
He said a potential buyer could be a public land trust — a nonprofit organization that raises money to buy property then turns it over to a public entity.
 
“I think they have come to the realization that clear-cutting older forest to fund schoolchildren doesn’t work any longer,” Laughlin said. “They need to get creative to meet their fiduciary mandate and work within the public interest.”
 
Nov06

Revenge Forestry: A Flare-up in the Elliott State Forest (an Excerpt)

October 14, 2014
by Jonathan Frochtzwajg, Oregon Business Magazine
 
When the Eugene-based timber company Seneca Jones made a $1.8 million bid on land in southern Oregon's Elliott State Forest earlier this year, it wasn't a business decision; it was personal. The 788-acre parcel (along with twoSeneca Clearcut at Dawn other parcels in the Elliott) had been put up for auction at the end of 2013.
 
Just before bidding was scheduled to end, the environmental group Cascadia Forest Defenders sent a letter to Seneca Jones and other Oregon timber companies.
 
Click here to view full article
 
Oct21

Cascadia Sues Over Lack of Federal Protections for the Wolverine

Cascadia Wildlands, along with a broad coalition of conservation groups, has filed suit over the Fish and Wildlife Service's failure to list the wolverine on the Endangered Species Act list.  The Fish and Wildlife Service officially withdrew its proposal to list the species after applied political pressure from a handful of western states.  Only 250-300 wolverines call the contiguous United States home, living in small populations scattered across the west.  A unanimous panel of Fish and Wildilfe scientists had previously recognized serious threats to the wolverine's continued existence, acknowledging that the greatest threat to the species' survival in the United States is habitat loss due to climate change.

The suit was filed on October 20, 2014, and the coalitition is represented by the Western Environmental Law Center.  This case carries important ramifications for other species  impacted by climate change as federal regulators have generally relied upon out-of-date or ineffective climate change  models.  Wolverines have been found in Washington, Oregon, and California. 

 

To see more background on the wolverine and this lawsuit, click here. 

A copy of the complaint can be found here.

Sep29

Court Decision Stops Four Tongass National Forest Logging Projects (an Excerpt)

By Mary Kauffman
Sit News
September 27,2014
 
Gabe Scott, Cascadia Wildlands' representative in Alaska, said "In answering our previous challenges to these aawolftimber sale projects the Forest Service corrected its modeling errors, and then came up with the same failing deer model scores we had been predicting for years in this case, instead of its previous high numbers. The agency covered over this outcome by applying the 2008 Forest Plan to the modeling results, whereas the projects had been planned and decided under the 1997 Forest Plan. We had no choice but to take this back to court.”
 
The court found the agency’s approach to be illegal, saying "The Forest Service cannot have it both ways." It determined that "… the 1997 and 2008 Forest Plans … are not identical and therefore they are not interchangeable in evaluating the Forest Service's decisions …," and that "… retroactive application of an amended plan has expressly been rejected by the Ninth Circuit."
 
The Forest Service now has a second chance that includes two options to correct the deficiency. The second chance is one of two optional paths the plaintiffs asked the court to take in its decision. Under the court decision, either the remedial remand work must be redone by reevaluating the corrected deer model results under the framework of the 1997 Tongass Forest Plan, or the agency must formally remake the decisions for the four timber projects under the 2008 Forest Plan.
 
"The Forest Service has lots of work to do if it still wants to pursue these projects,” said Scott. "It also has the option to simply cancel the projects though, and that really makes the most sense given the limited capacity for these forest areas to sustain adequate deer populations under the Forest Service’s model.”
 
This was the second legal action of the week affecting the Alexander Archipelago wolf. On Monday the Center for Biological Diversity, Greenpeace and The Boat Company achieved a settlement with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to advance the agency's decision date for deciding whether to list the species as threatened or endangered in Southeast Alaska (including the Tongass National Forest) – the only place where it exists – under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
 
The three organizations sued the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service earlier this year because it had planned to delay its decision on the listing at the end of 2017 at the earliest. The ESA requires a decision within one year of when a petition-to-list is filed. The settlement sets the deadline as the last day of 2015.
 
Greenpeace's Edwards said, "This is an important settlement, because now the decision on whether or not to list the Alexander Archipelago wolf as threatened or endangered will be made well before the Forest Service's next amendments to the Tongass Forest Plan, which will be finalized in August 2016."
 
Greenpeace and Cascadia Wildlands won a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals order in 2011, directing the district court to remand the Forest Service's decisions on the projects. The remand required the agency to explain what apparent plain errors in the way it applied a timber sale planning tool known as the deer model.
 
Attorneys representing Greenpeace and Cascadia Wildlands are Chris Winter of Crag Law Center (Portland, Oregon) and René Voss of California. The McIntosh Foundation and The Boat Company, which does eco-tours in Southeast Alaska, have supported the effort.
 
 
 
Sep17

Another mistake in managing wolf recovery

The Olympian
September 16, 2014 
 
The state Department of Fish and Wildlife has mismanaged another conflict between an Eastern Washington 2008937557rancher and an important wolf pack. This time the department accidently killed the breeding alpha female of the Huckleberry pack, one of the state’s most stable and prolific packs. Gray wolves are an endangered species in Washington.
 
This is a catastrophic mistake that will likely lead to more conflict between the pack and livestock. The loss of a breeding adult in a pack is well-known to wildlife experts to cause chaos within the pack and unpredictable future behavior.
 
But the department’s mishandling didn’t end there. The agency knew the rancher had refused conflict avoidance resources from the DFW and Washington State University and proceeded to put 1,800 sheep in the wolf pack’s territory in difficult terrain without state-advised deterrents in place and protected by only a single herder and four dogs.
 
State wildlife officials surely knew this was a recipe for disaster.
 
When dead sheep started appearing on Department of Natural Resources-owned land, DFW should have been prepared to take quick and effective nonlethal deterrent action. It was not, and instead issued a secret kill order without notifying members of the Washington Wolf Advisory group in advance.
 
The DFW sharpshooter, working from a helicopter, was authorized to kill four of this year’s pups. But he mistakenly killed the pack’s alpha female.
 
Diane Gallegos, executive director of Wolfhaven International, located in Thurston County, said the conservation community is unanimous that the DFW and the rancher didn’t follow the state wolf plan and that the DFW shouldn’t have issued a kill order.
 
“This is an endangered species, and it is unconscionable that they accidently killed the breeding female of an endangered species,” Gallegos said. We agree.
 
In 2012, the DFW killed the entire Wedge Pack, even though it had failed to effectively implement the non-lethal measures required by the state’s wolf conservation management plan.
 
When ranchers engage in cooperative agreements with DFW, the state saves money, ranchers protect their livestock and wolves survive on other food sources.
 
Ranchers can also call on nonprofits, such as Conservation Northwest, to reduce conflicts between wolves and livestock. Conservation Northwest is using private funds and staff to train and provide range riders to oversee livestock sharing range with wolves. They are currently engaged in five separate projects, and in three seasons have not lost any livestock to wolves.
 
After the Huckleberry blunder, some of the most passionate gray wolf advocates are questioning whether DFW has a tendency to favor the interests of livestock operators. Clearly, the agency should be doing more to protect an endangered species.
 
Hundreds of thousands of gray wolves once roamed the West. When their natural food sources dwindled after human settlements, they sometimes turned to livestock earning the ire of pioneers. By the middle of the last century, most wolves had been killed off.
 
Today, thanks to protected status, wolves are making a comeback. They are a natural resource that belongs to the people of this state.
 
Gov. Jay Inslee should order a review of the department’s wolf plan management, and state lawmakers must legislate a requirement that ranchers engage in good-faith cooperative agreements with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.
###
 
 
 
 
 
Sep11

Female wolf is Northwest descendant: Trail cameras first spotted OR-7’s black female companion in May (an Excerpt)

By Lacey Jarrell
Klamath Falls Herald and News
September 6, 2014 
 
The mysterious female wolf that mated with OR-7 is a confirmed descendant of Northwest wolves.Potential OR-7 mate
 
According to a press release, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has received the results of scat samples sent to the University of Idaho for analysis. The samples, collected in Southwest Oregon in May and July, identified OR-7’s mate and two of the pair’s pups as wolves.
 
************
Cascadia Wildlands Executive Director Bob Ferris dubbed OR-7’s female companion “Wandering Wanda,” or just Wanda for short, in a June blog post for his organization.
 
“We got tired of calling her the uncollared wolf that came from nowhere,” Ferris said. “Wanda probably wandered as far as OR-7 and her story is probably just as remarkable as his.”
 
Ferris said although Wanda is just a nickname, he believes it’s a reasonable solution to talking about a well-known animal that doesn’t have anything to call it by. ODFW spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy said biologists don’t name wolves; however, as a function of being collared, wolves are given an identification, such as OR-7’s. Dennehy said “OR” represents the state — Oregon — and “7” indicates he was the seventh wolf collared in Oregon.
 
 
 
Sep02

Advocates Vow to Protect Devil’s Staircase Wilderness

by Zach Urness
Salem Statesman Journal
August 31, 2014
 
The first time Andy Stahl heard about the Devil's Staircase, it was little more than a wilderness myth.
 
Rumors of a spectacular waterfall hidden deep within one of the Coast Range's most remote and inaccessible canyons spread through Oregon State University's Environmental Center in the late 1970s like sightings of Bigfoot, sparking debate among students about whether this central coast Shangri-La actually existed.
 
Every bushwhacking adventure into the thick, cliff-walled jungle surrounding Wassen Creek — the supposed location of the fabled cascade — ended in failure, often after a miserable rain-soaked night in the wild.
 
"Year after year, students at Oregon State attempted to find it, and every time they failed," Stahl said. "It wasn't something that could be found on a map. It didn't have an official name, there certainly wasn't a trail, and the land is just damn hard to get through. A lot of people thought it didn't exist."
 
In 1981, the forestry graduate decided the mystery had to be solved. With a young environmental activist named Sherry Wellborn — who would later become his wife — Stahl traversed over 30 miles of Wassen Creek in tennis shoes.
 
The trip would not only prove Devil's Staircase did exist — and that it was as beautiful as hoped — it would set in motion a three-decade effort to preserve one of the largest remaining old-growth ecosystems in Oregon's Central Coast Range.
 
The effort to safeguard the 200-foot Douglas firs and cedars, spotted owl and coho salmon habitat, and dense interior valleys surrounding Devil's Staircase and Wassen Creek — a landscape nestled between the Smith and Umpqua rivers east of Reedsport — has been a quixotic journey that began in the early 1980s.
 
It has twice survived the threat of logging while coming within a razor's edge of being protected by Congress in 1984. It has come within striking distance of being protected as the 30,540 acre Devil's Staircase Wilderness multiple times since 2009 yet has always come just short.
 
With the 50th anniversary of Wilderness Act on Sept. 3 — a landmark piece of legislation aimed at preserving the nation's most important landscapes in their natural state — the Devil's Staircase offers a glimpse into the past and present struggle to preserve one of Oregon's wildest places.
 
Wassen Creek flows through dense old-growth forest in a remote canyon in Oregon's Central Coast Range east of Reedsport.
 
The main thing Stahl remembers about that three-day trip down the length of Wassen Creek was how isolated he felt in a 1,800-foot canyon that hadn't changed much since Columbus set sail.
 
This struck him as remarkable, especially since the Coast Range has been the realm of logging for more than a century. Forest Service, BLM and private logging roads bisect the vast majority of forest. Much of the landscape is a checkerboard of tree farms, clear-cuts, second growth, or some combination.
 
Yet within Wassen Creek, home to almost 26,000 acres of intact old-growth, Stahl found a deeper solitude than anywhere he'd previously traveled.
 
Massive Douglas fir and cedars rose 200 feet into the canopy overhead. In three days he saw more wildlife — black bear, river otter, elk and signs of cougar — than during a year's worth of hiking and backpacking.
 
On the third day, they found the Devil's Staircase, where Wassen Creek drops 50 feet down a series of sandstone tiers.
 
"It struck me that we were as isolated geographically as I had ever been in my life — the cliffs were so sheer that if one of us broke an ankle, I didn't have any idea how we'd get out," Stahl said. "I saw no evidence of humans — not a fire ring, blaze on a tree or boot mark. It was remarkable — not a canella of human presence."
 
THE FIRST THREAT OF LOGGING
Not long after Stahl's epic trip, in 1982, Siuslaw National Forest proposed a timber sale that would have led to a 400-acre cut in the Wassen Creek area.
 
The proposal sparked the first effort to preserve the area.
 
Environmental activists convinced then-Sen. Mark Hatfield to write a letter holding off the sale. In 1983, the National Wildlife Federation filed suit claiming the area's steep slopes and shallow, unstable soils on the Mapleton Ranger District were highly susceptible to landslides following timber harvests, which damage waterways.
 
The court ordered the Forest Service to conduct an environmental review and produce an Environmental Impact Statement before offering to sell, "any timber on the Mapleton Ranger District other than limited commercial thinning … firewood … greenery sales and salvage of dead and downed timber sales."
 
The result was dramatic. Timber harvests fell from 75 million board feet in 1983 to 15 million broad feet in 1984 on the Mapleton Ranger District. Many residents blamed the lawsuit for closing the mills and the city's loss of jobs.
 
The Wassen Creek area was originally included for protection under the 1984 Oregon Wilderness Act. A cap placed on acreage in the bill forced then-Rep. Jim Weaver to choose between a wilderness area in Southern Oregon and Wassen Creek.
 
Wassen Creek was the odd wilderness out.
 
RE-ENERGIZED
Without wilderness protection, but under no real threat from logging, the Devil's Staircase and Wassen Creek area went quiet as the Forest Wars raged in other parts of the state.
 
The area was declared critical habitat for the spotted owl by the Endangered Species Act in the early 1990s and the Northwest Forest Plan provided additional protection in 1994, but it never received the wilderness stroke of Congress.
 
The quiet period ended in 2006 when a 5,000-acre section of the proposed wilderness was included in a draft of the Western Oregon Plan Revision by the Bureau of Land Management to become Timber Management Area.
 
The inclusion re-energized the wilderness campaign around Devil's Staircase and Wassen Creek that hit full bore in 2007.
 
Editorials, rallies, media attention and even visits by two of Oregon's congressional delegation — Rep. Peter DeFazio and Sen. Jeff Merkley, who bushwhacked to the waterfall — brought renewed emphasis to preserving the area as wilderness.
 
Rep. DeFazio has introduced a bill giving the area wilderness protection three times in the House since 2009. Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden and Sen. Merkley have introduced similar bills in the Senate three times as well. It passed the full Senate in June with unanimous consent but is a long shot to pass the House.
 
AWKWARD POSITION
Wassen Creek remains as difficult to reach today as it did when Stahl made his trip more than 30 years ago.
 
While some rugged roads provide access along its borders, and barely visible game trails can be followed in places, this roadless, pathless forest remains as difficult to penetrate as ever.
 
Only around 100 people per year, all with strong navigational skills, endure the hellacious bushwhack into Wassen Creek and Devil's Staircase. Multiple people have been lost or spent an unexpected night among the densely forested ravines attempting to locate the staircase.
 
But while the forest has changed little, the political climate has taken an unexpected twist during the past few months.
 
The Devil's Staircase Wilderness bill is now part of a larger package of bills in the House (authored by Rep. DeFazio) and Senate (authored by Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden). The package would protect some areas, like the Devil's Staircase, while increasing logging on Oregon's federal O&C lands.
 
This has put supporters in a tough spot. In some cases, long-term proponents of the wilderness are now fighting the very bill that would finally make the Devil's Staircase Wilderness a reality.
 
"It's an incredibly awkward spot to be put in after the bill was advancing on its own merits," said Josh Laughlin, who has visited the Devil's Staircase area more than 20 times and is campaign director for Cascadia Wildlands, an Eugene-based environmental group.
 
"It's one of the wildest places in Oregon — really a magnificent slice of what the Coast Range once looked like. The Devil's Staircase deserves to stand on its own."
 
Zach Urness has been an outdoors writer, photographer and videographer in Oregon for seven years. He is the author of "Hiking Southern Oregon" and can be reached at zurness@Statesman Journal.com or (503) 399-6801. Find him on Facebook at Zach's Oregon Outdoors.
 
ABOUT THIS SERIES
Today's installment is the first of a two-part series about the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, exploring both the fight to create new wilderness in the example of the proposed Devils Staircase Wilderness and its history in Oregon.
 
The series continues Monday with dramatic examples of what can happen when nature and human nature collide over the restrictions inherent in the act.
 
50th ANNIVERSARY OF THE WILDERNESS ACT
On Sept. 3, 1964, Lyndon Johnson signed into law one of the most significant bills in environmental conservation into law. The Wilderness Act provides the highest level of protection for landscapes deemed worth both nationally and locally.
 
Five percent of the United States (and 2.7 percent of the Lower 48) and four percent of Oregon are protected under the Wilderness Act. In this two-part series, the Statesman Journal explores both the fight to create new wilderness — in the example of the proposed Devil's Staircase Wilderness — and its history in Oregon.
 
"A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain."
 
– Text of Wilderness Act
 
 
 
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