Strategic Litigation

Jun01

Field Checking the Breitenbush Timber Sale

By Dylan Plummer, Cascadia Outreach & Organizing Intern

The other weekend I helped Cascadia Wildlands lead a field checking expedition into the Detroit Ranger District of the Willamette National Forest, in a large timber sale surrounding the Breitenbush hot springs. This timber sale is called the Highway 46 project, and our goal was to find evidence on the ground that we can use to litigate against it, and, hopefully stop the worst of it from being approved.

My friend Madeline picked me up from the Portland airport the night before, and after a dark and dreamless sleep in a friend’s front yard, we packed up the car and headed for the Santiam pass, one of the most beautiful stretches of forest in Oregon. Breitenbush Group picAs we drove up the old highway to meet with the rest of the WildCATs (our very own unit of on-the-ground volunteers), we found ourselves in the midst of a caravan of other field checkers, all being led by a white Mini Cooper.

As we pulled up to the designated meeting place, I was astonished to see a group of at least 30 people already there waiting for the field checking to start. After a quick tutorial in plant I.D. and map reading, and of course some delicious potlucking, we split into five groups and went to explore the different treatment units of the proposed sale.

The purpose of the trip was to find inconsistencies in the sale proposal, which contains many units being proposed for ‘thinning’ and some areas listed for “regeneration harvest,” which essentially means clearcut. The Forest Service’s justification for the sale is to improve stand health, prevent future high-severity burns, and to create more early seral habitat (forests under 20 years old). Sounds great in theory, but the reality on-the-ground revealed that these justifications were misguided at best, and intentionally misleading at worst.

Before going into our field work, we knew that several fires had burned through the project area just last summer, so investigating the true impact of these fires was one of our first priorities. If the fires had done their job, they should have burned through hazardous fuels, thinned out the forest and, if they were hot enough, they should have naturally created the early seral habitat that the Forest Service argues is so needed.

IMG_6375Sure enough, upon our exploration of unit 83 in the sale, we came across some of the most intensively burned areas from last summer’s Scorpion fire. Huge trees ranging from 100- 300 years in age were burnt to their crowns, allowing for plenty of light to penetrate the canopy and naturally creating the early seral habitat that the forest service claims is so desperately needed. It was beautiful, and it was just what a healthy post-fire forest should look like.

Aside from finding existing early seral habitat in the area, there were also a number of other significant features that we noticed while out in the field. One of these was an unlisted waterway and riparian area flowing through one of the units. This finding was important because riparian areas are required to be protected with buffers rather than just logged over, meaning that simply in finding this feature, we may be able to protect additional swaths of the forest.

The forest within the Highway 46 timber sale is inarguably one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen, with massive douglas firs towering over a lush understory of service berry, vine maple, and yew. We even found a meadow filled with Calypso Orchids — an increasingly rare, and incredibly beautiful wildflower endemic to our region.

When all of the groups got back together to debrief our findings, it became apparent that this sale not only didn’t make sense in terms of creating the already naturally existing early seral habitat, but that it would imperil a number of rare, ecologically important specimens. This is not to mention the unmarked waterway that we found, and the general integrity and health of the forest as it is now.IMG_3197

Essentially, the field checking mission was a success, providing Cascadia Wildlands’ lawyers with evidence that this sale is not only irresponsible, but potentially avertible through litigation.

The cherry on top of this successful outing was that after all was said and done, we got to blow off steam at Breitenbush hot springs with the 15 free entrance passes that they so generously offered to us for our work protecting the forests that they love. Upon reflecting, I can’t think of any way I’d rather spend a spring day than doing plant I.D. in the woods and then spending the evening soaking in natural hot springs with a group of lovely, passionate environmentalists.

These field checking expeditions not only provide ammunition for the legal challenging of timber sales, but also help to cultivate a sense of place and responsibility within the participants. It is easy to feel apathetic and hopeless when looking at a map of proposed timber sales, or a swath of clearcuts on the horizon, but it is much harder to feel that apathy after you’ve spent the day trekking through those very woods.

Cascadia Wildlands is currently ramping up our efforts to get groups of our volunteers field checking, and if you’re at all interested, you can find out more information and get plugged in to upcoming field checking opportunities at cascwild.org/getoutdoors.

May19

Court Order: Washington Must Give Public Notice Before Killing Wolves

smackoutFor Immediate Release, May 18, 2018

Contact: Nick Cady, (314) 482-3746, nick@cascwild.org

Court Agreement: Washington Will Give Public Notice Before Killing Wolves 

Eight-hour Warning Could Permit Judge to Halt Slaughter Plans

OLYMPIA, Wash.— Washington wildlife officials will have to give eight business hours of notice before killing wolves in the state, under a new agreement reached today in Thurston County Superior Court.

Judge Chris Lanese ruled from the bench today that a challenge by the Center for Biological Diversity and Cascadia Wildlands of a kill order for the Sherman Pack in Washington was moot because the agency had already destroyed the pack. 

But Judge Lanese emphasized that the issues raised by the lawsuit were of great public importance and deserved to be fully evaluated. To that end, the judge obtained a commitment from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to provide public notice before killing wolves, ensuring the conservation groups have a chance to stop any killing.

The judge suggested that such a request for emergency relief was extremely likely to be granted, to prevent the state from killing wolves before there is a chance to have a court rule on the full merits of the claim.

“We’re deeply saddened by the loss of the Sherman Pack, but this new public notice agreement could save other Washington wolves,” said Amaroq Weiss, west coast wolf advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The pack’s dissolution is exactly what you’d expect if you kill pack members. State officials need to realize that recklessly killing wolves is totally unacceptable given the still fragile recovery of these important animals.”

The groups’ suit challenged the agency’s August 25, 2017 order authorizing killing of members of the Sherman pack. At the time of the kill order, the Sherman pack consisted of only two wolves. The state killed one Sherman wolf on September 1, 2017.

“We don’t like that a state endangered wolf was killed and a pack lost, but we’re glad we’re going to get our concerns with the Department’s wolf management heard,” said Nick Cady, legal director for Cascadia Wildlands. “The science increasingly shows that killing wolves isn’t an effective means to address livestock loss and the public doesn’t want it.”

Overall, since 2012, the state has killed 18 state-endangered wolves, nearly 15 percent of the state’s current confirmed population of 122 wolves. The judge noted that fifteen of the wolves killed since 2012 were killed on behalf of the same livestock owner; those kills have now led to the eradication of three entire wolf packs, including the Sherman Pack last summer, Profanity Peak pack in 2016, and the Wedge pack in 2012. The rancher in question has been a vocal opponent of wolf recovery and has historically refused to implement meaningful nonlethal measures designed to protect his livestock from wolves.

Washington’s wolves were driven to extinction in the early 1900s by a government-sponsored eradication program on behalf of the livestock industry. The animals began to return from neighboring Idaho and British Columbia in the early 2000s, and their population has grown to 22 confirmed packs as of the end of 2017.

But wolf recovery in Washington is still a work in progress. Wolves remain absent from large areas of the state, and although the population has been growing, it remains small and vulnerable. Given the continued endangered status of wolves, conservation groups are urging the state and livestock operators to stick to nonlethal methods as the sole means for reducing loss of livestock to wolves.

Photo of Smackout Wolf Courtesy of Western Wildlife Outreach

May16

Quartz Timber Sale Challenged Over Impacts to Red Tree Voles!

For Immediate Release, May 16, 2018

Contact:

Nick Cady, Cascadia Wildlands, (314) 482-3746

Doug Heiken, Oregon Wild, (541) 344-0675

Reed Wilson, Benton Forest Coalition, (541) 754-3254                      

Timber Sale Targeting Mature Forests East of Cottage Grove Challenged in Court

Proposed Logging Would Eliminate Seventy-Five Red Tree Vole Nests

RTV 1EUGENE, Ore.— Today, three conservation groups challenged the 847-acre Quartz timber sale on the Cottage Grove Ranger District of the Umpqua National Forest that targets mature forests. The contested area is home to a thriving population of red tree voles, a small tree-dwelling mammal that is a prey source for the imperiled northern spotted owl and is critical to forest ecosystems in western Oregon.

“It is incredibly disappointing to again witness the Forest Service targeting mature forests to solely benefit private timber interests,” said Nick Cady, legal director at Cascadia Wildlands. “The Quartz timber sale is a clear example of the Forest Service’s pursuit of commercial timber at the expense of all the other public values this agency is required to protect.”

The red tree vole is a unique tree-dwelling species that inhabits mature and old-growth forests throughout much of western Oregon. Extensive red tree vole habitat has been destroyed by aggressive logging in Oregon’s Coast and Cascade Ranges. In 2011, the US Fish and Wildlife Service found that the species warranted listing under the federal Endangered Species Act, but declined to extend those protections in part due to regulatory protections on public federal forest lands.  Yet, in 2016, the Bureau of Land Management, which manages interspersed public lands in western Oregon eliminated protections for the species across 2.5-million acres of public forests it oversees.

“The red tree vole is already in a precarious position given the historic logging that occurred in Oregon over the past century,” said Nick Cady.  “And the recent elimination of protections for this species on BLM lands in Oregon places its future in jeopardy. The Forest Service must do all it can to ensure its survival and cancel reckless timber sales like Quartz.”

RTV 3In its initial planning efforts for the Quartz timber sale, the Forest Service surveys documented little red tree vole activity and determined that the forests slated for logging were not good habitat.  Subsequent surveys conducted by volunteers with the Northwest Ecosystem Survey Team and verification surveys by the Forest Service resulted in seventy-five vole nest detections.  Despite this information, the Forest Service decided to proceed with the sale and destroy the vole nest sites.

"Red tree voles are closely linked with northern spotted owls,” said Reed Wilson with Benton Forest Coalition. “They have similar habitat requirements: old trees with cavities, structural defects and massive limbs suitable for nesting – exactly the kind of trees located throughout the Quartz timber sale by the Northwest Ecosystem Survey Team."

RTV 2 “The Forest Service seems determined to proceed with logging these beautiful forests regardless of the diligent efforts of citizens to document the presence of rare wildlife. First, the Forest Service said there were too few red tree voles to warrant protection. Later, the Forest Service said there were too many voles to warrant protection,” said Doug Heiken, conservation and restoration coordinator at Oregon Wild. “The poor red tree vole just can’t catch a break.”

This case is being brought by the Benton Forest Coalition, Cascadia Wildlands, and Oregon Wild.

The filed complaint can be found here.

Red tree vole photos courtesy of Northwest Ecosystem Survey Team.

Feb14

Press Release: Marbled Murrelet Listed as Endangered in Oregon

For Immediate Release, February 9, 2018
 

Oregon Raises Protections for Rare Seabird

Logging, Loss of Prey, Climate Change All Endanger Marbled Murrelet

Marbled Murrelet -large

PORTLAND, Ore.— Responding to a petition from conservation groups, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission voted today to change the status of marbled murrelets from threatened to endangered under the Oregon Endangered Species Act.
 
The decision to uplist the murrelet reflects the increasingly imperiled status of the species in Oregon and represents an important step in reversing its ongoing decline toward extinction in the state.    
 
“We applaud the commission for recognizing that the marbled murrelet warrants endangered status in Oregon,” said Nick Cady, legal director at Cascadia Wildlands. “This decision sets the stage for the state of Oregon to take the steps that will be necessary to recover this species in Oregon.”
 
The marbled murrelet is a seabird that nests in old-growth and mature forests and forages at sea. Its population has declined dramatically over the decades because of extensive logging in Oregon’s Coast Range. The commission’s decision could have implications for forest protection on state and private timberlands.
 
“While federal laws have stabilized habitat loss on federal lands, the state of Oregon has continued to allow logging of older forests at an alarming rate and failed to adequately address new threats to the species,” said Bob Sallinger, conservation director for the Audubon Society of Portland. “Changing the murrelet’s status to endangered will help ensure that Oregon takes the steps necessary to do its part to save this species.”
 
In response to a petition from multiple conservation organizations, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife developed a status review to assess the murrelet’s condition. The review demonstrated that murrelets need increased protections under the Oregon Endangered Species Act due largely to loss of nesting habitat from ongoing clear-cut logging. State protections are critical, because although many of Oregon’s Coast Range old-growth forests have been logged and converted into industrial tree farms, some of the best remaining older forests occur on state-managed lands.
 
“We’re pleased commissioners made a sound, science-based decision that’s exactly what these desperately imperiled seabirds need to survive,” said Tierra Curry, senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The science was absolutely clear that the murrelet warrants endangered status in Oregon. This protection will be critical to preserving an amazing part of our state’s natural heritage.”
 
The murrelet was listed as threatened in 1995. However, the recent status review conducted by Oregon’s Department of Fish and Wildlife concluded that the “key threats identified at the time of listing have continued or increased, and many new threats have been identified since the 1990s … the life history exhibited by this species provides little opportunity for the population to rapidly increase even under the most optimal circumstances.” It also noted that the primary causes of marbled murrelet declines — loss and fragmentation of older forest habitat on which the bird depends for nesting — have “slowed, but not halted … since the 1990s,” with greatest losses occurring on lands managed by the state. The review specifically notes that existing programs and regulation have “failed to prevent continued high rates of habitat loss on nonfederal lands in Oregon.”
 
The Oregon Endangered Species Act requires that the commission adopt survival guidelines for the species at the time of reclassification. Survival guidelines are quantifiable and measurable guidelines necessary to ensure the survival of individual members of the species. Guidelines may include take avoidance and protecting resource sites such as nest sites or other sites critical to the survival of individual members of the species. They would serve as interim protection until endangered species management plans are developed by applicable state agencies and approved by the Fish and Wildlife Commission.
 
“It is remarkable that this species has been listed as threatened for more than 20 years but the state of Oregon has never developed a plan to actually protect murrelets on either lands owned by the state of Oregon or private timber lands,” said Quinn Read, Northwest director of Defenders of Wildlife. “The status quo has failed this iconic Oregon seabird. We look forward to working with ODFW and other agencies to developing a plan that will truly protect this species and allow it to recover in Oregon.”
 
“This is an important step for ODFW.  The agency has struggled to faithfully act on it's core mission of protecting all native fish and wildlife in our state, but with this action to protect the marbled murrelet we hope they have turned the page,” said Steve Pedery, Conservation Director for Oregon Wild.
 
The conservation groups that initiated the petition to declare the marbled murrelet endangered in Oregon were Cascadia Wildlands, Audubon Society of Portland, the Center for Biological Diversity, Oregon Wild, Coast Range Forest Watch and the Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club.

 

Sep25

Cascadia Lawsuit Challenges Wolf Killing in Washington!

Lawsuit Challenges Washington Wolf-killing Protocol

Injunction Sought Against Further Killings After State Nearly Wipes Out Three Packs for One Livestock Owner

out_5_wolf_trail_cam_t1140

OLYMPIA, Wash.— Two conservation groups filed a lawsuit today seeking to stop the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and its director, James Unsworth, from killing any more state-endangered wolves.

Today’s suit, filed on behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity and Cascadia Wildlands, asserts that the agency’s killing of wolves from the Smackout and Sherman packs in northeastern Washington relied upon a faulty protocol and failed to undergo required environmental analysis. The suit was filed in Superior Court of Washington for Thurston County.

“We can’t sit by and watch Washington wildlife officials kill more wolves from the state’s small and recovering wolf population,” said Amaroq Weiss, the Center’s West Coast wolf advocate. “Washingtonians overwhelmingly want wolves recovered, not killed. The Department of Fish and Wildlife needs to listen to public opinion and consider the dire environmental costs of killing more wolves.”

In June of this year, Fish and Wildlife officials adopted a revised “wolf-livestock interaction protocol” for determining when to kill wolves in response to livestock conflicts. The protocol provided for the state to kill wolves more quickly than in prior years. As the lawsuit notes, the protocol was adopted without any public input or environmental review, in violation of the state’s Environmental Policy and Administrative Procedure Acts.

“Reasonable minds can differ on when we should and should not be killing wolves, and whether the killing of the wolves in these two packs was justified,” said Nick Cady, legal director for Cascadia Wildlands. “But there is no question that we should be fully analyzing the efficacy of these actions, welcoming public and scientific input, and be able to hold the state accountable. This is a state agency spending taxpayer dollars.”

The department has since relied on the protocol to order killing of wolves from two packs, with two wolves from the Smackout pack and one wolf from the Sherman pack killed to date. At the time of the Sherman pack kill order, only two wolves could be confirmed as comprising the pack, one of which the department has now killed. The department has temporarily paused killing wolves from both packs, but will resume if there are more livestock losses.

Overall, since 2012, the state has killed 18 state-endangered wolves, nearly 16 percent of the state’s current confirmed population of 115 wolves. Fifteen of the wolves killed since 2012 were killed on behalf of the same livestock owner; those kills have now led to the near eradication of three entire wolf packs, including the Profanity Peak pack last year, and the Wedge pack in 2012. The rancher in question has been a vocal opponent of wolf recovery and has historically refused to implement meaningful nonlethal measures designed to protect his livestock from wolves.

Washington’s wolves were driven to extinction in the early 1900s by a government-sponsored eradication program on behalf of the livestock industry. The animals began to return from neighboring Idaho and British Columbia in the early 2000s, and their population has grown to 20 confirmed packs as of the end of 2016.

But wolf recovery in Washington is still a work in progress. Wolves remain absent from large areas of the state and although the population has been growing, it remains small and vulnerable. Given the continued endangered status of wolves, the state and livestock operators should stick to nonlethal methods as the sole means for reducing loss of livestock to wolves.

“We appreciate that many livestock owners already are using nonlethal methods, said Weiss, “since the science shows such methods are more effective anyway.”

Plaintiffs are represented in the case by attorneys from the law firm Lane Powell.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.5 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places. Recognizing the ecological importance of wolves, bears and other carnivores, the Center uses science-based advocacy to defend these magnificent animals from persecution, exploitation and extinction. Find out more about our Carnivore Conservation campaign here.

Cascadia Wildlands educates, agitates, and inspires a movement to protect and restore Cascadia's wild ecosystems. We envision 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.

Aug07

Climbing the Quartz Timber Sale

Reed Crossbow

The Quartz Timber sale is an 847-acre logging project set to take place in the Umpqua National Forest. The timber sale proposes to commercially log and burn older forest in the Cottage Grove Ranger District. We believe that insufficient consideration was given to the presence of imperiled spotted owls and red tree voles, both species dependent on older forests to survive. We met up with Reed Wilson from NEST (Northwest Ecosystem Survey Team) and the Benton Forest Coalition, and he walked us through how to survey for red tree voles.  Surveyors use a crossbow or a bow to shoot a line over large lateral branches and then climb up around 200 feet to look for red tree voles nests.

When the Forest Service conducted surveys, it reported only a couple abandoned red tree vole nests and dismissed the project area as unimportant for the species. Reed and his team over the course of a year found more than 70 active nests in the same areas. The Forest Service has now changed its tune, arguing that these forests are excellent vole habitat and because the species is thriving, there is no need to protect the voles in the Quartz Timber Sale area. 

Needless to say that the work that Reed and NEST do is imperative to the protection and understanding of these treasured old growth forest ecosystems. We are incredibly lucky to have them helping us defend Cascadia’s wild ecosystems in the forest, in the courts, and in the streets.  We will keep you posted on the Quartz Timber Sale.

Check out this short video on the red tree vole survey process!

Aug07

Deep Thoughts with Cascadia’s Summer Interns

Cascadia Raft Trip

Corinne Milinovich and Kristen Sabo, 2017 Summer Legal Interns

The 2017 Cascadia Wildlands summer was filled with countless Oregon adventures, great conversations, and monumental educational growth for us both. We had the privilege of drafting complaints and settlement memos, executing public information requests, drafting litigation memos, refining our legal research skills, drafting a northern spotted owl uplisting petition, and sitting in on settlement meetings and objection resolution meetings with government agencies. 

We were lucky enough to table for Cascadia Wildlands at multiple Oregon events, including the Northwest String Summit bluegrass festival outside of Portland and the Oregon Country Fair. We connected with new and old Cascadia Wildlands supporters, discussed the LNG pipeline, wolf populations in Oregon, and the Elliott State Forest victory.

Overall the summer was a huge success, and there were many highlights for both of us. In particular, the settlement meetings and legal drafting stood out. It was such a privilege to be at the table during the settlement meetings. Those experiences are truly invaluable and instrumental to our growth and understanding of the environmental legal world.

Throughout the summer, Nick gave us the opportunity to experience the Cascadia Wildlands litigation process on multiple levels and see full circle how an environmental lawsuit is successfully executed. As up-and-coming environmental lawyers, this summer internship has shaped our future, reinforcing our chosen career paths.
Our summer legal internship with Cascadia Wildlands allowed us to be present for tangible environmental victories, including but not limited to: saving the Elliott State Forest, preventing old-growth timber from being cut, preserving endangered species habitat and the passing of a suction dredge reform bill that prohibited suction dredging in essential salmonid habitat.

These victories, conversations with Cascadia supporters, and our expanded knowledge of the environmental legal world will guide us into our next year of law school. It was truly an honor to be a part of the Cascadia Wildlands family, this summer was an invaluable experience. A big thank you to Nick, Josh, Gabe, Kaley, Luke, and the Cascadia Wildlands community for an unforgettable summer!

Jul17

Field Checking the Quartz Timber Sale

 
The Quartz Timber Sale is an 847-acre logging project set to take place on our public lands in the Umpqua National Forest on the Cottage Grove Ranger District.  The proposed sale will commercially log and then burn forests up to 130 years in age.  Folks here at Cascadia were concerned about the potential short thrift given to the presence of northern spotted owls and red tree voles, both imperiled, old-forest dependent species.  We decided to get into the woods and see for ourselves what this patch of forest had to offer.
 
On our ground-truthing mission, we snaked our way through low elevation young forest.  As the road tangled its way through the trees and climbed in elevation, we came to a more traversable and level section of ground.  There we were able to hike through older parcels of the forest, lumbering around creek ravines and marveling at the larger old-growth trees that bared the scars of long-forgotten fires.  The combination of old-growth trees and younger trees creates a habitat that is ideal to many native Oregon species, including owls and voles. 
 
We concluded that it would be a shame to see these beautiful sections of forests heavily logged and roaded to facilitate commercial timber harvest on our public lands.  We hope you folks feel the same, and we encourage all of you to check out the sale yourselves.  Details on the Quartz Timber Sale are available here on the Forest Service website. Feel free to let the Forest Service know how you feel about this project.
 
Luke Mobley, Cascadia Summer Intern
Jun27

Suit Filed to Prevent Old-Growth Logging Near Rogue River

June 27, 2017

For Immediate Release

Nick Cady, Cascadia Wildlands (314) 482-3746

Medford BLM Old-Growth Timber Sale Faces Legal Challenge

Groups Oppose the Government Returning to Old-Growth Logging

RTV big §34Today a coalition of conservation organizations representing tens of thousands of Oregonians filed a lawsuit against the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) seeking to halt the “Lower Grave” old-growth timber sale located on the Grave Creek tributary to the Rogue River.  This illegal logging project proposes to log fire-resilient old-growth forests currently serving as a critical refuge for the northern spotted owl, Coho salmon and red tree voles.

“The last thing the Grave Creek Watershed needs is more old-growth logging, more clearcutting and more logging roads,” said George Sexton, Conservation Director for KS Wild. “Our public land managers should be bringing communities together to restore forests, but the BLM appears intent on going back to the days of ripping up watersheds and slicking off native forests.”

The timber sale marks a sharp departure from the BLM’s prior restoration efforts in the Rogue River Basin aimed at undoing past damage wrought by rampant clearcutting and extensive road construction over the previous century.  Medford BLM had been successfully implementing “dry forest restoration” timber sales based on the recommendations of foresters Drs. Norm Johnson and Jerry Franklin. These dry-forest restoration principles allowed to the BLM to offer substantial timber volume for sale, while increasing the resistance of these forest stands to large fires, largely without controversy.

“Our organizations repeatedly stressed to the BLM that there was a way for them to design this project to generate timber for sale and protect the large old-growth trees,” said Nick Cady with Cascadia Wildlands.  “The BLM replied that its mission was to maximize the cut.  That is not the agency’s mission. The BLM is placing no value on wildlife, clean water, and forest health that Oregonians hold dear.”

The BLM admits that the timber sale will increase fire hazard in the “regeneration harvest” logging units in which over 95% of the old-growth trees will be removed and replaced with dense tree-farms. The sale will also result in the “take” of a newly established spotted owl pair and its juveniles.

"The Lower Grave timber sale is based on the wrong priorities. This logging will degrade rather than restore our public forests that have already been logged too much," said Doug Heiken of Oregon Wild. "BLM's top priority should be careful restoration of the public values that flow from our public forests, including clean water, recreation, climate stability, fish & wildlife, and quality of life that underpins our diverse economy."

###

May09

Battle for the Elliott State Forest Won! Land Board Votes to Keep Forest Public!

For immediate release

May 9, 2017

Contact: Josh Laughlin, Executive Director, 541.844.8182

 

State Land Board Votes Unanimously to Ditch Elliott State Forest Privatization Proposal, Advance Public Ownership Solution

In a 3-0 vote today, the Oregon State Land Board, made up of Governor Kate Brown, Treasurer Tobias Read and Secretary of State Dennis Richardson, terminated the protocol that led to the timber industry proposal to privatize the 82,500-acre Elliott State Forest in the Oregon Coast Range. 

The Land Board also voted to advance a proposal to keep Oregon’s first state forest in public ownership, which would require legislating $100 million in bonding revenue to decouple environmentally sensitive areas of the Elliott from the Common School Fund. The public ownership plan would also require the completion of a multi-species Habitat Conservation Plan for the remainder of the forest, which would outline forest management activity and endangered species protections. 

Today’s decision came after intense public opposition to the Elliott State Forest privatization proposal over the past few years, which would have led to restricted public access, old-growth forest clearcutting, and reduced stream-side protections for wild salmon.

Here are statements from Josh Laughlin, Cascadia Wildlands Executive Director, who attended and testified at today’s hearing:

“There has been a tidal wave of Oregonian support to keep the Elliott public that couldn’t be held back. The Land Board’s decisive action today was visionary, and we look forward to working in the months ahead to create a lasting forest plan that benefits clean water, imperiled salmon and wildlife habitat, and future generations of Oregonians.”

"At a time when there is tremendous nationwide pressure to privatize public lands, today’s Land Board vote to keep the Elliott State Forest public shows incredible leadership and foresight. This decision will be remembered decades down the road as one that deeply benefitted clean water, wild salmon, old-growth forests and school kids."

"Today’s vote is a reminder that we no longer need to choose between supporting school children or our environment. We can have both, and we are going to build off the momentum to ensure lasting environmental protections are built into the Elliott State Forest plan.” 

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