Eugene Weekly by Camilla Mortensen
February 21, 2013
The Trapper Timber Sale in the Willamette National Forest just won’t go away, Josh Laughlin of Cascadia Wildlands says. “This is a like a low-grade horror movie where the zombie keeps coming back from the grave.”
The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) is taking comments on the old-growth logging proposal’s latest iteration, which reduces the cutting from 149 acres to 44 acres and the proposed acres to be burned from 92 to 36, according to a press release from McKenzie River Ranger District.
The release says, “impacts to northern spotted owls will be significantly less than in the previous project.” Northern spotted owls are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, and Laughlin says the area of the planned logging is “a real hotbed for red tree voles and northern spotted owl activity.” Red tree voles are eaten by spotted owls.
Trapper, which originated in the late ’90s, was sold to Seneca-Jones Timber in 2003 and has been highly contentious ever since. Trapper is north of the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest, and in 2010 scientists working there wrote a letter saying the logging, which had been proposed as part of study designed to use timber harvest and fire to emulate natural disturbances, “will not yield stand-level lessons of high value for contemporary logging practices.”
In 2011, a judge ordered the USFS to “review the Trapper Project and determine impacts to the northern spotted owls and the learning value of the project, as well as to bring the project up to changing standards for environmental review,” the McKenzie River Ranger District says, and the new proposal is the result. The district says the USFS “is proposing to complete this portion of the project in order to respect the contractual commitments with the sale purchaser.”
Seneca, the purchaser, has been hotly protested by Eugene activists for its proposed logging of Trapper as well as its biomass burning plant in west Eugene.
Laughlin says of the new Trapper proposal, “We will once again tell the Forest Service that the old trees in the beloved McKenzie watershed are best left standing for the recreation, air and water they provide and the unique and imperiled species they house.”
Comments on the project are due March 11. To comment go to www.fs.usda.gov/Willamette and click “Trapper.”