Press Release: Conservationists Challenge Controversial BLM Clear-Cutting Pilot Project


Old forest in the Roseburg BLM (Josh Laughlin)

January 30, 2013
Doug Heiken, Oregon Wild
(541) 344-0675;       
Francis Eatherington, Cascadia Wildlands

(541) 434-1463;

Roseburg, Oregon  —  Conservation groups today filed an administrative challenge to the proposed clearcutting of more than 100 acres of mature forests and spotted owl critical habitat on public lands near Canyonville. The White Castle Timber sale is part of the Roseburg Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) Secretarial Pilot project, promoted by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar as a way of restoring the forest and increasing timber harvest on federal forest lands.


"The claim that clearcutting 100 year old trees is ecological restoration is an insult to the intelligence of Oregonians," said Doug Heiken of Oregon Wild. "We have worked closely with the Mount Hood and Siuslaw National Forests on genuine restoration projects that have received national recognition as models for sustainable management. The White Castle sale is a cynical effort to resurrect destructive clearcutting and call it restoration."

The BLM is facing pressure from the timber industry and counties to increase logging, even though the BLM has met its timber targets for the last decade by thinning young forests instead of clearcutting older forests.

Oregon politicians like Peter DeFazio, Kurt Schrader and Greg Walden have gone further, suggesting 1.5 million acres of public forests be turned over to a quasi-public entity that would clearcut them under the exceedingly weak provisions of the Oregon Forest Practices Act (OFPA) in order to generate revenue for cash-strapped Western Oregon counties. The OFPA provides no protection for old-growth trees, almost no protection for streams, and extremely limited opportunities for public involvement. County finances can be provided through shared responsibility – with a portion of the needed funds coming from local, state, and federal sources – instead of entirely from logging.

Oregon Wild and Cascadia Wildlands have offered their support for thinning dense young forests as a way to restore damaged forests, provide jobs, and produce wood products as a byproduct. The two orgnaizations are opposed to clearcutting and logging older forests which have never previously been logged.

"If this clearcutting proposal moves forward, it could become a precedent for thousands of acres of additional clearcutting," said Francis Eatherington of Cascadia Wildlands. "We already have far too many clearcuts on private land. Our public lands should be protected so they can provide the diverse public benefits which private lands do not."

"With every passing year, there are more and more reasons to protect old forests and fewer reasons to clearcut them," said Tommy Hough, Communications and Outreach Associate at Oregon Wild.
"With increasing concerns about climate change and the important role forests play in storing carbon and keeping it out of the atmosphere, clearcutting old forests for short-term gain has never made less sense."

The White Castle project description includes 187 acres of variable retention regeneration harvest (e.g., "shaggy" clearcuts) located within designated critical habitat for the northern spotted owl:
•    of which 120 acres includes forest over 100 years old:
•    of which 96 acres are suitable spotted owl habitat (units 23 and 25)
•    of which 42 acres are within the core area of a pair of northern spotted owls
The project description for the White Castle also includes trees over 300 years old occurring in some of the logging units, and an expected yield of 6.4 million board feet of timber, equivalent  to 1,200 log truck loads.