New BLM Timber Sale clearcuts near homes

Proposed Timber Sale Threatens Homes Near Myrtle Creek, Oregon

By Erin Grady

The Roseburg BLM is stirring up controversy in Myrtle Creek again. They released the Environmental Assessment on a new doozy of a sale; called the Myrtle Creek Harvest Plan. Totaling just over 2,000 acres, the sale would clearcut and thin in the north and south Myrtle Creek neighborhoods. There are 58 units in this sale, and many lie near streams that flow into North and South Myrtle Creek, that support coho salmon and are the source of water for the town.

The BLM is continuing to push their agenda of the Variable Retention Harvest (VRH), or the newest way to say clearcut, by proposing 334 acres of VRH. Some of that clearcutting is in mature forest up to 124 years old. Considering the BLM is facing legal challenges over a different Variable Retention Harvest in the exact same area, the controversial White Castle timber sale, it is surprising that they think they can get away with this one.

But the most disturbing thing about this sale, the thing that sets it apart from many sales that we oppose here at Cascadia Wildlands, is the fact that many of these units will cut right up to the property lines of homeowners in Myrtle Creek. Some units will clearcut in watersheds that are the primary or secondary water sources of the residents that live near them. In one case the BLM plans to clearcut right above a house!

If you’ve never been to Myrtle Creek and the surrounding woods, then it is definitely worth a trip. The town got its name from the rushing Myrtle Creek, which runs through downtown and into the South Umpqua River. Follow either fork of the creek uphill and it will take you to the forest; the source of timber, water and recreation for Myrtle Creek. On a sunny summer day it feels like you are driving up the creek into heaven, with nothing but blue sky and gold-rimmed clouds above the trees. In the dead of winter you sometimes can’t even see the tops of the mountains shrouded in grey clouds thick with snow. Either way you drive into a different world on your way up the forested hills that loom over this tiny town. I can see why people like living in Myrtle Creek.

No matter how you may feel about timber harvest in Oregon, I think we all agree that the BLM should not be reducing the quality of life or endangering safety of people who live near their lands. There are many risks of clearcutting next to someone’s home. Landslides, erosion, contamination of streams, increased herbicide exposure, decreased property values and increased fire danger are all things that reduce the safety and quality of life that someone feels in the place they live. The BLM claims to be a “good neighbor” to those that live near their lands, but their Environmental Assessment makes little mention of how these cuts will affect homeowners. So far, BLM has ignored the letters that locals have sent, and have not made the changes in this project that their neighbors have asked for.

We need your help to make a sweeping citizen opposition of this project. The public comment period for this project lasts until July 3rd, and we are hoping the BLM receives a barrage of comments from all over Oregon. You don’t have to live in Myrtle Creek to comment, but your comments will greatly support those people whose homes are being threatened.  Please follow this link to a sample citizen letter that you can edit and send to the BLM to show your opposition. The letter suggests the BLM choose an alternative that does not include clearcutting. Thank you so much for your time!