Press Release: Big Timber Manufactures Timber Volume Crisis in Western Oregon

June 21, 2012
Josh Laughlin (Cascadia Wildlands) – 541.844.8182
Sean Stevens (Oregon Wild) – 503.283.6343 ext 211
Big Timber Manufactures Timber Volume Crisis in Western Oregon
New logging data highlights inaccurate claims of gridlock by administration, politicians, and industry
Eugene, Ore — With a new plan for Bureau of Land Management (BLM) forests in western Oregon currently in the works, conservationists today pointed to new harvest data from the agency that shows a steady flow of timber is moving off of federal forest lands. The official numbers contradict claims made by timber industry lobbyists and local politicians that little logging is occurring on BLM and National Forest lands.
“The Big Timber machine's claims of public forest gridlock are simply bogus,” offered Cascadia Wildlands' Campaign Director Josh Laughlin  “Restoration thinning in younger stands is bringing logs to the mills, but some elected officials and Big Timber can't help but try and confuse the public with talk of federal forests in crisis.”
Numbers from the Eugene, Salem, and Coos Bay BLM Districts tell the story. In fiscal year 2011 all three districts sold more timber than their management plan timber targets (mmbf = million board feet):
BLM District    Annual Timber Target    FY 2011 Sold Timber
Coos Bay         27 mmbf                           40 mmbf
Eugene            36 mmbf                           44 mmbf
Salem              35 mmbf                           50 mmbf
Increases in timber sold can largely be attributed to the focus on non-controversial, restoration-based thinning in plantation forests that were planted after old-growth clear-cutting occurred in past decades. By avoiding the controversy and conflict typical of federal forest management in the 1980s, BLM can meet harvest targets without resorting to old-growth clear-cutting.
The emerging consensus over restorative forest management – and the subsequent increase in harvest on BLM lands – makes the recent lobbying push by the logging industry all the more perplexing.
“Everyone is entitled to their own opinions but not to their own set of facts,” added Oregon Wild Executive Director Sean Stevens. “The fact is that BLM is getting the cut out and should spend time on expanding recreation opportunities and protecting clean water — not figuring out how to log more.”
Recent legislation proposed by Rep. Peter DeFazio, Rep. Kurt Schrader, and Rep. Greg Walden seeks to dismantle the landmark Northwest Forest Plan, which includes all 2.6 million acres of western Oregon BLM lands, based on the false assumption that it has failed to provide adequate timber harvest. The harvest data out today tells a different story. In addition to largely meeting timber sale targets, the Northwest Forest Plan has helped to drastically improve water quality in western Oregon forests and stemmed the tide of salmon extinction that hit the Pacific Northwest in the 1980s after decades of clear-cutting and road building.
Since the Northwest Forest Plan was adopted, the BLM and Forest Service have offered 8.7 billion board feet of timber. This is equivalent to 1.74 million log truck loads. Timber targets are set each year by Congress and based on available funding. The data show that since 1995 the agencies have met 82% of the timber targets established by Congress. The small shortfall is the result of two legal blunders where federal agencies broke their own rules and failed to protect streams and wildlife as outlined in the forest plan.