For immediate release
May 16, 2018
Nick Cady, Cascadia Wildlands, (314) 482-3746
Doug Heiken, Oregon Wild, (541) 344-0675
Reed Wilson, Benton Forest Coalition, (541) 754-3254
EUGENE, 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.”
In 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.”
“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)