In previous blog posts, we have highlighted concerns with legislation being floated by Oregon Congressmen Peter DeFazio, Kurt Schrader and Greg Walden for the management of over 2 million acres of western Oregon BLM forest land.
The long awaited proposal was finally released as a ‘discussion draft’ on February 16. Nearly 1.5 million acres of federal lands, including significant forests between 80 and 125 years old, will be placed in quasi-private timber trusts with significantly weakened environmental protections and no environmental analysis or public comment on timber sales. The trusts will be managed by a board which includes representatives from the timber industry, and will be logged much like industrial forest lands with 120 acre clearcuts, heavy chemical use, and minimal to no buffers for many streams.
Congressman DeFazio is now conducting a poll and accepting public comment on the draft on his website. Please visit his website and check the box to indicate that ‘you do not support the draft O & C Trust, Conservation and Jobs Plan as currently written.’ Please also enter specific comments on the draft bill and include the following key points:
- Oppose the application of the Oregon Forest Practices Act to 1.5 million acres of public lands. The Oregon Forest Practices Act is inadequate to protect clean water, wild salmon, critical habitat for spotted owl and other endangered species, and recreational values. This is a dramatic weakening in environmental protections from current Northwest Forest Plan standards and is particularly harmful in forests between 80 and 125 years old, exposing these important forests to large-scale clearcuts, increased likelihood of dangerous landslides, and damage to clean water and salmon streams that could push some runs of wild fish and other species closer to extinction.
- Protecting wilderness quality BLM forests and old growth trees and forests should happen only as stand alone legislation, not linked to reduced environmental protections on other public lands. Further, future legislation should also protect all mature native forests between 80 and 125 years old.
- Linking county budgets to logging levels on federal land is a failed strategy. Congress should maintain a significant level of direct payments in lieu of taxes, and take steps to reduce log exports from private industrial forest lands in Oregon.