Field checking the Lost Antelope timber sale (photo by KS Wild).

Press Release: Legal Victory Saves Threatened Old-growth Forest in Southern Oregon

March 11, 2022

Nick Cady, Cascadia Wildlands (541) 937-5512
Meriel Darzen, Crag Law Center (503) 525-2725
George Sexton, KS Wild (541) 778-8120
Doug Heiken, Oregon Wild (541) 915-2329

Conservation Lawsuit Convinces BLM to Pull Controversial Timber Sale

Medford, Oregon — The Medford District Bureau of Land Management (BLM) “Lost Antelope” timber sale would have:

  • Removed fire-resilient old-growth trees located in the “Wildland Urban Interface” and increased wildfire hazard to nearby ranches, farms and communities.
  • Conducted “regeneration” and “gap creation” logging activities that resemble clearcutting.
  • Resulted in the establishment of dense young even-age timber plantations that tend to burn at stand-replacing intensity.

In late 2021 conservation organizations KS Wild, Oregon Wild, Cascadia Wildlands and the Soda Mountain Wilderness Council filed a legal challenge to the Medford BLM’s “Lost Antelope” old-growth timber sale located in the Little Butte Creek Watershed near Medford Oregon. In response to that lawsuit, and ostensibly to “consider new information, conduct additional analysis, and solicit further input,” on March 10, 2022, BLM withdrew the unlawful timber sale decision record. The conservation organizations were represented by the Crag Law Center in the challenge to the decision.

“BLM’s decision to withdraw the project provides the agency an opportunity to work with local communities and stakeholders to change course on this project and work toward common goals, including reducing fire risk and protecting old trees.” stated Meriel Darzen, Staff Attorney for the Crag Law Center.

The Lost Antelope timber sale would have increased fire hazard and fire-fighting complexity through removal of comparatively fire-resilient large diameter trees with a large distance between the tree canopy and the ground and the subsequent planting of a dense second-growth timber plantation with decreased resiliency to fire.

“As a Rogue Valley resident who had to evacuate while the 2020 Almeda fire burned down hundreds of homes and business, I am disappointed that the BLM continues propose ‘regeneration’ logging that will increase fire hazard near residences,” said George Sexton, Conservation Director for KS Wild. “Forest and community resiliency are undermined by the BLM’s ‘regeneration’ logging agenda.” he continued.

“It shouldn’t take a federal lawsuit to get the BLM to listen to community concerns about forest removal and fire hazard,” stated Nick Cady the Legal Director for Cascadia Wildlands. “The BLM needs to get over its obsession with regeneration and gap-creation logging techniques and start thinning the timber plantations they’ve already created,” he concluded.

“The BLM’s plan to remove big, old trees and replace them with a small flammable timber crop is exactly the wrong approach,” noted Doug Heiken of Oregon Wild. “Real restoration means retaining mature forests for carbon sequestration,” he added.

Copies of the legal complaint and photos of the timber sale units are available upon request.