Sierra Club Statement on Wyden Eastside Forest Bill

Sierra Club statement on Senator Wyden’s

The Sierra Club recently succeeded in stopping the controversial Farley and Cobbler timber sales in the Umatilla National Forest using the 'administrative appeal' process in order to hold the agency accountable without having to go to court. The Forest Service abandoned a third project - Wildcat - based on arguments raised in our appeal before having to defend it in federal court. The appeals process would be abandoned under Senator Wyden's bill during the first three years of the legislation.

“Oregon Eastside Forest Restoration, Old Growth Protection and Jobs Act”

While the Sierra Club is not party to the deal announced by Senator Wyden today, we have been aware of the discussions for some time and have provided Senator Wyden written comment on previous versions of his forest restoration legislation. We will be reviewing the details of this most recent legislation in coming days and weeks, but believe that any legislation intended to comprehensively deal with forest restoration, old growth protection and job creation in central and eastern Oregon  should include provisions to:

-          Provide stand-level protection for old growth forests as well as codify existing rules that protect individual large diameter trees on national forests in central and eastern Oregon.

-          Protect older forests and large diameter trees after they have burned – post-fire logging is by far the most scientifically unjustifiable and damaging type of logging that takes place in central and eastern Oregon, and was at the root of numerous lawsuits during the Bush administration.

-          Require aggressive watershed restoration activities that reduce road mileage, improve fish passage, protect riparian habitat from soil damage associated with logging, and contribute to the recovery of threatened fish and wildlife species while improving water quality on hard-hit 303(d) listed streams.

-          Protect the roughly 5 million acres of unprotected roadless forests on national forest land in central and eastern Oregon from logging activities, as well as other ecologically significant forest stands.

-          Create economic diversification through watershed restoration. The historically low timber prices over the past two years make it clear that creating economic activity around non-timber forest restoration activities such as culvert replacement, logging road obliteration, and invasive species removal should be a key component to create new jobs and contribute to long term economic stability in rural Oregon counties.

-          Require the Forest Service follow the best available science and avoid scientifically controversial logging activities such as mechanically thinning moist mid to high elevation mixed-conifer stands where there is strong evidence that logging does far more harm than good.

We hope that Senator Wyden’s latest forest restoration effort addresses what we consider to be key components for a successful forest restoration, old growth protection and job creation effort in central and eastern Oregon.

For background on the Sierra Club’s most recent successful efforts to uphold strong scientific standards for eastside forest management, please visit http://orsierraclub.wordpress.com/2009/11/17/umatilla-national-forest-rescinds-third-controversial-logging-project/

The Oregon Chapter Sierra Club is one of the state’s most effective forest conservation organizations, representing over 20,000 members statewide. We play a leadership role in holding the Forest Service accountable for protecting watersheds and using the best available science to guide management across millions of acres of National Forest and BLM lands in central and eastern Oregon.

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