Two key decisions are coming soon that will have a huge impact on the management of millions of acres of public forests on BLM and Forest Service land in Western Oregon.
First, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is taking comments on new management plans for 2.5 million acres of western Oregon forests that make up key drinking water sources, and important habitat for salmon and other forest species. These lands are also the focus of Congressional legislation that would remove some current environmental protections in order to maximize logging, and it is important that Oregonians weigh in overwhelmingly in support of protecting mature and old growth forests on western Oregon BLM lands from destructive logging, and to shift BLM towards ecological restoration rather than continued industrial logging on sensitive lands.
Separately, the US Fish and Wildlife Service is taking comments on a draft plan to establish ‘critical habitat’ for the Northern Spotted Owl, an old growth dependent species. The critical habitat rule as proposed would actually weaken protections for the mature and old growth forest habitat of this iconic ancient forest dependent species on both Forest Service and BLM lands in Oregon, Washington and Northern California. Unfortunately, the administration appears willing to allow new, damaging logging in sensitive old growth forests under the guise of ‘forest health,’ responding to timber industry pressure to increase logging on federal lands, despite unprecedented raw log exports from private lands in recent years.
Your comments are needed to ensure Oregon’s ancient forests finally get the protection they deserve. Here are two ways you can help:
1) Send BLM a comment to influence the development of their new western Oregon Resource Management Plans. Click here to email your comments. They are due by July 5.
2) Send the US Fish and Wildlife Service comments on their draft proposed critical habitat rule for the Northern Spotted Owl. Comments are due by July 6. You can submit comments by clicking here. Please make the following key points in your comments:
- You are writing in support of protecting the mature and old-growth forests in the Pacific Northwest that provide numerous economic and environmental benefits and are essential to threatened species such as the Northern Spotted Owl, the Marbled Murrelet, and Pacific salmon.
- Conservation of old-growth forest ecosystems by the Northwest Forest Plan was a significant environmental advance that ended decades of unsustainable management practices. Studies show that the plan is working — the highly fragmented forests are growing back into large blocks needed to maintain water quality and recover threatened species such as the Northern Spotted Owl.
- The draft Critical Habitat proposal raises concern because it does not protect all habitat essential to the conservation and recovery of the spotted owl. The rule also proposes to exclude habitat on state and private lands necessary for recovery, particularly coastal redwood forests.
- Of great concern, even for areas designated as Critical Habitat, the draft rule allows logging that is not supported by science. Three major scientific societies are advising the Obama Administration to conduct more research before more owl habitat is lost.
- The draft includes language allowing for weakening or eliminating protections of the Northwest Forest Plan. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must ensure that currently protected Late Successional Reserves are maintained.
- Logging areas now protected by the Northwest Forest Plan, including mature forests that the Plan had intended to become old-growth, is inconsistent with sound science and should not be allowed. The proposed elimination of the owl’s Late Successional Reserves as proposed in the Okanogan-Wenatchee forest plan, and possibly other forest plans for Oregon’s Deschutes National Forest and others, should be opposed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.