Posts Tagged ‘timber sale’

Aug07

Climbing the Quartz Timber Sale

Reed Crossbow

The Quartz Timber sale is an 847-acre logging project set to take place in the Umpqua National Forest. The timber sale proposes to commercially log and burn older forest in the Cottage Grove Ranger District. We believe that insufficient consideration was given to the presence of imperiled spotted owls and red tree voles, both species dependent on older forests to survive. We met up with Reed Wilson from NEST (Northwest Ecosystem Survey Team) and the Benton Forest Coalition, and he walked us through how to survey for red tree voles.  Surveyors use a crossbow or a bow to shoot a line over large lateral branches and then climb up around 200 feet to look for red tree voles nests.

When the Forest Service conducted surveys, it reported only a couple abandoned red tree vole nests and dismissed the project area as unimportant for the species. Reed and his team over the course of a year found more than 70 active nests in the same areas. The Forest Service has now changed its tune, arguing that these forests are excellent vole habitat and because the species is thriving, there is no need to protect the voles in the Quartz Timber Sale area. 

Needless to say that the work that Reed and NEST do is imperative to the protection and understanding of these treasured old growth forest ecosystems. We are incredibly lucky to have them helping us defend Cascadia’s wild ecosystems in the forest, in the courts, and in the streets.  We will keep you posted on the Quartz Timber Sale.

Check out this short video on the red tree vole survey process!

Jul17

Field Checking the Quartz Timber Sale

 
The Quartz Timber Sale is an 847-acre logging project set to take place on our public lands in the Umpqua National Forest on the Cottage Grove Ranger District.  The proposed sale will commercially log and then burn forests up to 130 years in age.  Folks here at Cascadia were concerned about the potential short thrift given to the presence of northern spotted owls and red tree voles, both imperiled, old-forest dependent species.  We decided to get into the woods and see for ourselves what this patch of forest had to offer.
 
On our ground-truthing mission, we snaked our way through low elevation young forest.  As the road tangled its way through the trees and climbed in elevation, we came to a more traversable and level section of ground.  There we were able to hike through older parcels of the forest, lumbering around creek ravines and marveling at the larger old-growth trees that bared the scars of long-forgotten fires.  The combination of old-growth trees and younger trees creates a habitat that is ideal to many native Oregon species, including owls and voles. 
 
We concluded that it would be a shame to see these beautiful sections of forests heavily logged and roaded to facilitate commercial timber harvest on our public lands.  We hope you folks feel the same, and we encourage all of you to check out the sale yourselves.  Details on the Quartz Timber Sale are available here on the Forest Service website. Feel free to let the Forest Service know how you feel about this project.
 
Luke Mobley, Cascadia Summer Intern
Oct13

Win on the Tongass: Forest Service Withdraws Mitkof Island Old-Growth Timber Sale

For Immediate Release
October 12, 2015
 
Contact:
Gabe Scott, Cascadia Wildlands, (907) 491-0856, gscott@cascwild.org
Becky Knight , GSACC, (907) 772-9391, bknight15@hotmail.com
Oliver Stiefel, Crag Law Center, (503) 227-2212, oliver@crag.org
Larry Edwards, Greenpeace, (907) 747-7557, ledwards@greenpeace.org
Randy Spivak, Center for Biological Diversity, (310) 779-4894, rspivak@biologicaldiversity.org
Patricia O'Brien AWA-SE chapter, (907) 789-9405, patriciaobrien@gci.net
 
PETERSBURG, Alaska — In a federal court filing last Friday the U.S. Forest Service announced it will withdraw its decision on the Mitkof Island Project, a large 35 million board foot timber sale. The project is in the center of the Tongass National Forest, near the communities of Petersburg  and Kupreanof.
 
Petersburg District Ranger Jason Anderson signed the Forest Service's decision in March. In May five environmental organizations filed the lawsuit, GSACC v. Anderson. They are the Greater Southeast Alaska Conservation Community, Cascadia Wildlands, Center for Biological Diversity, Greenpeace, and the Alaska Wildlife Alliance.  The organizations are represented by Chris Winter and Oliver Stiefel of Crag Law Center (Portland) and Gabriel Scott, Cascadia Wildlands' Alaska legal director.
 

 

Tongass1"Faced with the realities brought forth in our lawsuit, the Forest Service is withdrawing the Mitkof project rather than defend it in court. This is a victory for old growth, wildlife, and subsistence hunters, although we don't yet know whether the agency will attempt resurrecting the project with future planning," said  Cordova-based Gabriel Scott of Cascadia Wildlands.
 
At issue in the lawsuit is the harm caused by logging old-growth and to the species dependent on old growth forests including Sitka black-tailed deer-an essential resource for subsistence hunters-the Alexander Archipelago wolf, and the Queen Charlotte goshawk. 
 
Petersburg resident Becky Knight of GSACC  said: "Mitkof Island has been hard hit by 60 years of industrial logging.  Subsistence hunters from the community rely on deer as a primary source of protein, but for years have been faced with critically low deer populations and severe harvest restrictions.  This area of the Tongass needs a long period of recovery, but this sale targeted some of the few remaining stands of important winter deer habitat."
 
Randi Spivak with the Center for Biological Diversity said, "During the planning process for this sale, the Forest Service tried to downplay and hide from the public the full scope of the damage this logging would cause." Spivak added: "The agency initially told the public this was a 'small sale' involving only a local logging  opportunities, but the project ballooned to a major timber sale designed for a large regional or out-of-state timber operator."
 
"The Forest Service must take a hard look at the environmental consequences of its actions, especially with respect to species like the deer and the goshawk that depend on old-growth forests," said Oliver Stiefel of Crag Law Center.  "In a rush to approve yet another major old-growth timber sale, the Tongass National Forest brushed aside these environmental concerns and fast-tracked the project."  
 
In the court filing, the Forest Service asked for an extension of the briefing schedule in the case to give the agency time to formalize its withdrawal notice.  The extension request is for 60 days.  
 
 
(Tongass National Forest photo by US Forest Service)
 
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Sep28

Goose Timber Sale is Back!

View of Mt. Hood from Lookout Mountain

Two years ago the community of McKenzie Bridge was surprised to find pending timber harvest signs on their property boundaries with the Willamette National Forest.  The community started askng questions and realized that the Forest Service had planned a massive timber harvest that entirely surrounded the town.  The sale involved mature forest clearcutting, extensive riverside logging along streams that directly feed the McKenzie River, logging and road building within the Lookout Mountain potential wilderness.
 
The community organized against the sale, gathered over 5,000 signatures of residents opposed to the sale, and Cascadia Wildlands went to court to protect this highly prized area.  We prevailed in District Court, and the Forest Service was ordered to conduct a more thorough analysis of the projects effects to the environment and involve the local community. 
 
See more on this victory here.
 
We were excited about the victory, but remained cautious because the Forest Service had already entered contracts for the sale of the timber to industrial timber companies.  We knew that these companies would not let the Forest Service off the hook.  After a timber sale is invalidated by a court, the Forest Service has legal mechanisms to escape these contracts, but all too often we witness the Forest Service go through a paper exercise to attempt to satisfy the Court, and a regurgitation of the same archaic and illegal timber sale.
 
This is exactly was has happened with the Goose timber sale.
 
We are now again faced with this terrible and massive timber sale, but the good news is that the Forest Service is accepting objections to the project from the public into October.  The Forest Service needs to be reminded  that OUR forests are not beholden to the interests of the private industrial timber complex, especially those forests that shelter the critically important McKenzie River. 
 
If you would like to help Cascadia through this process, please send us your stories, examples of the importance of this area to you personally.  We will use these examples from our membership to demonstrate to the Forest Service that this area is cherished by many, and urge them to abandon the project.  Just put GOOSE in the subject line of you email.  Thanks so much, we will keep you updated on the project.
 
 
May05

Lawsuit Challenges Plan to Log Old-growth in Alaska

Mail Attachment-6 copy

Cascadia Wildlands yesterday filed suit against the Forest Service challenging approval of the Mitkof Island timber sale, a 4,117-acre old-growth logging project on the Tongass National Forest, near Petersburg in Southeast Alaska.

This lawsuit comes close on the heals of our challenge to the Big Thorne timber sale, another big old-growth sale that is currently on appeal before the 9th Circuit. These cases, along with a proposed revision to the overarching Forest Plan, represent a critical turning point on the Forest.

Long story short, the era of profitable old-growth logging is over, but the Forest Service and a handful of influential logging industry die-hards have been working overtime trying to prop it back up. Timber sales like this one on Mitkof Island are a last gasp of a dying industry.

The industry is dying—there is little doubt about that—but the question is whether it will leave enough healthy forest behind to sustain the wildlife and subsistence opportunities that rural Alaskans have traditionally enjoyed. The ecosystem is at a tipping point. 

Mitkof Island is a microcosm for the legacy of Tongass logging and habitat loss. Extensive areas have been clearcut on the National Forest, and (even worse) clearcutting on adjacent privately owned land.

One result is that the local deer population has crashed and is not recovering. Without enough old-growth providing shelter, the herd starves in winter. Petersburg residents no longer can go hunting out their back door. 

And, the result of that is that the State of Alaska is pursing ‘predator control,’ aiming to cull the wolf population by 80%. Without adequate habitat, the whole predator-prey system (of which humans are a part) comes crashing down.

In spite of huge controversy, on Mitkof the Forest Service determined that their logging project would have “no significant impact” on the environment, so conducted only a cursory environmental review. This is rare, and extraordinary. As the environmental consequences intesify, why would the agency be paying less attention to them?

Contrary to that claim, our lawsuit catalogues a number of significant impacts:

  • Loss of winter habitat for deer, further stressing the local population;

  • Harm to subsistence hunters, particularly low-income residents who cannot afford to travel to distant islands for deer;

  • Threats to the Alexander Archipelago wolf, which is currently being considered for protection under the Endangered Species Act, from loss of deer habitat and the likelihood of increased trapping;

  • Damage to the Queen Charlotte goshawk, a raptor that relies on old-growth forest.

As Rebecca Noblin, the Alaska director for our co-plaintiff Center for Biological Diversity, said, “I suppose that if you don’t look for problems then you’re not going to find them.”

The case was filed on behalf of Cascadia Wildlands, Greater Southeast Alaska Conservation Community, Greenpeace, Center for Biological Diversity, and the Alaska Wildlife Alliance, in federal district court in Anchorage. Cascadia’s staff attorneys are joined by the superhero lawyers at CRAG law center arguing the case. 

You can read a copy of the suit here.

Apr03

Do Not Let the “Timber Witches” Have the Elliott

By Bob Ferrisuntitled
 
“Kathy Jones, Seneca Jones’ co-owner, said her company didn’t bid on the land because her mill needs lumber but because she and her two sisters refused to be bullied by “eco-radical” environmental groups and believed no other timber companies made an offer.” Oregonian April 2, 2014

 

We do not traditionally respond well to ironic comments made by timber industry owners.  That is why we thought that we would respond comically to the Seneca Jones sisters calling us and others essentially “environmental bullies” when they buy timber that they claim that they do not need, simply to make a point.  Ridiculous actions deserve ridiculous responses.
 
The only point they have made is that they have enough money to spend it recklessly.  So we thought that we would respond with humor appropriate with their attempt to buy bits of the Elliott at pennies on our dollars. (Please click on "movie poster" to the right to get the full effect)
 
Offensive? Maybe.  But we find it offensive for a timber company to ask for more discounted public resources so that they can have additional wherewithal to buy timber they do not need.
 
“They’re elitist environmentalists, they’re sent from Washington D.C., they’re not about doing anything reasonable,” she said. “The hypocrisy is without limit. And we’re sick and tired of it in the state.” Seneca Jones Co-Owner Kathy Jones in the Oregonian April 2, 2014
 
Perhaps—judging from the above quote—the sisters think that they have truly enchanted us. That seems like the only logical explanation when you have the plane-flying, horseback-riding, SCUBA-diving sisters calling people living on the economic edge “elitists.”  And as to being sent from Washington DC, my sense is that these three forget how much time they and their lobbyists spend in our nation’s capital and hope that we do also.  
 
Seneca Clearcut at DawnThe enchantment theory might also explain why the sisters might think that their “vision” for the Elliott expressed so well by this photograph at left of a Seneca Jones clearcut at dawn being sprayed with herbicides by helicopter matches Oregonian’s vision for our precious public lands.  And for all those out there touting the wildlife habitat benefits of clearcutting, please show me the elk and deer habitat created here or in the photograph at right of a Seneca clearcut and landslide.  This is not what we need or want in the Elliott.Seneca landslide
 
“Clearcutting mimics nature,” Jones said in an interview. “If these lands are awarded to us, and we maintain them as we do all of our private timberlands, we will be clearcutting and replanting Douglas fir.” Timber Company Says It Will Clearcut If It Buys Public Forestland in EarthFix April 3, 2014
 
And for those who think we are over stating our case, the above quote from Seneca Jones sister Kathy speaks volumes about their scorched earth policy.
 
 
Join us and help support our efforts to find a conservation solution that helps all of us and protects some of the last and largest stands of mature, native forest in coastal Oregon.  

 

 

 

Jan31

Crony Capitalism on the Tongass

by Gabe Scott

Where is the Tea Party when we need them?

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately with two thick Environmental Impact Statements — for the Tonka Timber Sale, and the Big Thorne Timber Sale — out of Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. These fellas are a blast from the past, a nostalgic but savage reminder of why our work continues to be so necessary on Cascadia’s northern forest.

The Tonka and Big Thorne timber sales target thousands of acres of old-growth for clearcutting. Trying to stay clear of controversial roadless areas, they’re logging mostly “leave” areas between past clearcuts, on places like Prince of Wales Island and Lindenberg Peninsula. The result would be huge, continuous clearcuts. Sacrifice areas, really.

One big problem is these huge swaths of land will be worthless to deer during hard winters. In good weather, even a clearcut can be good habitat for a deer. But when deep snow comes deer seek refuge in the shelter of big trees, and rely on the lichens beneath them to avoid starvation.

A related problem comes when clearcuts grow back into densely stocked second-growth. This shades out undergrowth, killing the herbs and shrubs that deer eat. A second-growth forest in the “stem exclusion phase” is worthless to deer from about 30 years after logging out. The condition lasts about a century, nobody is really sure.

Loss of deer winter habitat has spiraling negative effects to wolves and humans who eat them. If this sacrifice areas strategy goes forward, the ecosystem won’t just be damaged — it will be destroyed, thrown fundamentally out of whack. Places like Prince of Wales Island and Lindenberg Peninsula will no longer be able to support deer, human hunters and wolves. One of the three will have to give.

It’s pretty clear how this story plays out. The last few winters have been hard, and the places that have been heavily logged have seen huge declines of deer. On Lindenberg Peninsula, where the Tonka sale is proposed, the Alaska Board of Game voted this month to limit the deer season and bag limit. Worse, they are considering “predator control” plans to kill off 80% the wolves in the area, in a desperate effort to leave enough deer to hunt.

These are the consequences of logging, so why are we still doing this? The thing is, the Forest Service sees it as their job to prop up and grow a timber industry in Southeast Alaska. These massive logging projects are based on the idea that if enough forest is sold cheaply enough, new mills will rise from the ashes.

The facts aren’t there to support the scheme. The truth is, not being able to find enough trees was never the reason behind the old-growth industry’s decline. The reasons are obvious: the price you can sell trees for went way down, and the cost of logging went way up. There’s only one mid-size mill left in business (just barely).

The fact is this: it is not profitable to log and mill Tongass old-growth on any large scale.

There are all sorts of gimmicks used to disguise the fundamentally unsound economics. The Forest Service builds, maintains and repairs a vast network of logging roads with taxpayer money. They try to hide the millions of dollars it costs to design, lay out, and do environmental analysis for timber sales.

The strategy doesn’t even obey its own logic. The Forest Service routinely issues exemptions allowing loggers to bypass the local mill and export logs overseas. If the point is to save the local mills, then why are these sales geared to export markets?

What is going on here is exactly the kind of “crony capitalism” that Sarah Palin rails against. We have a few dozen people in the logging industry, a Forest Supervisor, and local politicians co-enabling each other by peddling a tired old narrative. There’s a veneer of rugged individualism, but really these are government-made jobs. Taxpayers are paying over a quarter-million dollars for each logging job being created.

The “jobs versus environment” debate has become so entrenched that most politicians don’t know how to think any other way. Eventually the facts will catch up, and Tea Party folks will realize Tongass logging for the wasteful government program that it is.

Until then, we’ll have to keep fighting these big timber sales like it’s 1999.

 

Jun18

Scientists Blast Tongass Deal in House

 

Scientists blast Tongass deal in House omnibus package
 
Published: Monday, June 18, 2012
 
Phil Taylor, E&E reporter
 
 
A group of more than 300 scientists has warned that a proposal to transfer old-growth stands in the Tongass National Forest to a native-owned corporation would allow harmful clear-cutting and could damage the southeast Alaskan economy.
 
The letter released Friday, signed by noted biologists E.O. Wilson and Tom Lovejoy, comes days before the bill is debated in the House as part of a larger lands package that would lift environmental laws along the border, restore motorized access to a protected beach and fast-track environmental reviews, among other measures (E&E Daily, June 18).
 
The scientists join a large contingent of environmental groups, sportsmen and local tour operators who have warned the bill by Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) would allow unsustainable logging, could limit land access and would create a troubling precedent for settling native land claims.
 
 
The letter, coordinated by the Ashland, Ore.-based Geos Institute with support from the Pew Environment Group, argues that H.R. 1408 would allow Sealaska Corp. to disproportionately harvest rare, old-growth trees in the Tongass.
 
"The vast majority of these lands would be subjected to clearcut logging, including some of the most biologically rich, large-tree old-growth rainforest remaining on the Tongass," the scientists wrote.
 
Introduced for the first time nearly five years ago, Young's bill would allow Sealaska to acquire tens of thousands of acres outside the lands it was entitled to select under a 41-year-old settlement. In addition, the bill would allow the corporation to select dozens of smaller parcels suitable for renewable energy or tourism development.
 
Proponents of the bill say much of Sealaska's remaining land entitlement under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act consists of old-growth roadless areas or municipal watersheds that are inappropriate for logging. Much of the lands is also under salt water.
 
In their letter, the scientists note the Tongass contains a globally significant portion of the world's remaining temperate rainforests, which contain some of the most carbon-dense stands.
 
The letter cites a report by Audubon Alaska in February that found Young's bill would cede up to 17 percent of the last remaining "very large old-growth" trees in the Tongass, allowing Sealaska to log up to 12 times as much old growth as what current law would allow (Greenwire, Feb. 23).
 
They also warn that development of the "futures sites" in the bill — some of which are located at the heads of bays or mouths of salmon streams — would harm commercial and sport fishing, recreation and subsistence hunting important to local communities.
 
Rick Harris, Sealaska's executive vice president, in a statement Friday said the corporation's currently available land selections contain world-class salmon habitat, municipal watersheds and high-value old-growth forests that are inappropriate for timber development. The withdrawal areas agreed to in the 1970s do not allow it to "advance the social cultural and economic wellbeing of our shareholders," as required by the law that created Sealaska and a dozen other native-owned corporations, he said.
 
Luke Miller, a spokesman for Young, said Alaska's Forest Resources and Practices Act, which would govern Sealaska's logging, requires "best practices management and careful regulation" to protect fish and wildlife values. Added Harris, "The record setting salmon runs in Southeast Alaska prove it."
 
Sealaska has so far received 290,000 acres of its Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act entitlement but is entitled to receive 63,600 additional acres, according to the Bureau of Land Management. The tribe recently asked that its final selections be put on hold in order to pursue a legislative alternative.
 
Debate over Young's bill in the House comes as Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) continues to negotiate companion legislation in the Senate with Democrats, the Forest Service, Sealaska, and environmental groups including the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council and Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.
 
"All eyes are on the Senate side," said Eric Myers, director of policy for Audubon Alaska, who authored the report on Sealaska's land selection.
 
A spokesman for Murkowski last week said the senator is optimistic that her bill could pass the Energy and Natural Resources Committee by early summer. Tentative agreements on land selections have been reached to alleviate concerns from local residents, sportsmen and environmentalists, said spokesman Robert Dillon (E&E Daily, June 12).
 
Murkowski's bill, while opposed by environmental groups in its current form, is considered more palatable to critics because it includes stronger conservation provisions.
 
If Young's bill passes, it will likely be considered in the Senate separate from the House's public lands omnibus, which contains other measures that stand little chance of passage in the upper chamber.
 
 
"We also ask the Obama administration and those in the Senate, now attempting to come up with a solution to the corporation's outstanding land claims, to reject the House bill, and look for ways to address those claims while protecting the ancient forests," said Pew's Jane Danowitz.
 
If passed, Murkowski's bill would likely join other conservation measures in a separate public lands omnibus, pending agreements with Democrats and environmentalists. But passage of a public lands omnibus appears unlikely in the 112th Congress, and will almost certainly not happen before the election.
 
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