Updates on Oregon State Forest Conservation

April 7, 2013

Public Comment Period on High Value Conservation Areas Extended

The period to weigh in on the Department of Forestry’s new “High Value Conservation Area” designation on state forest lands has been extended until 5 pm on April 19th. This new Conservation Area classification will protect crucial fish and wildlife habitat, clean water sources, and important recreation spots. Let ODF know how important these areas and values are to you, submit your comments here!

Hugely Successful Hearings in Cannon Beach and Hillsboro

The North Coast State Forest Coalition extends a gigantic “THANK YOU!” to all those who were able to attend last month’s public hearings in Cannon Beach and Hillsboro. These events showcased the significant support for state forest Conservation Areas coming from northwest Oregon. All told, nearly 200 people attended the hearings, making them some of the best-attended hearings that ODF has hosted. Testimony came from all backgrounds and angles and demonstrated the breadth and variety of those who support a balanced approach to state forest management in Oregon.

Here is a Daily Astorian article on the Cannon Beach hearing.

Join us for an Outing!

The North Coast State Forest Coalition is hosting a series of field trips and events in the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests. Anyone interested in these lands and the role they play in the local economy and ecosystem is invited to attend.

Spring Chinook Seminar, Thursday April 18th - Pro guide Bob Rees will detail techniques used to pursue Tillamook Bay’s spring chinook… (details)

Steelhead Viewing at Salmonberry Falls, Saturday April 27th - Join veteran citizen-field biologists Ian Fergusson and Bob Rees on a unique tour of the Salmonberry Watershed, a tributary to the mighty Nehalem River… (details)

Tour Hyla Woods’ Mt. Richmond Forest, Saturday May 4th - As a small timber business, Hyla Woods aims to grow ecologically complex, economically viable, responsibly operated forests… (details)

Learn about Juvenile Salmonids on the Wilson River, Sunday May 5th - Interested folks will take a short hike up the Little North Fork of the Wilson River to view ODFW personnel working a fish trap, inventorying juvenile salmon, steelhead, and trout as they exit this pristine watershed… (details)

On-Water Spring Chinook Clinic, Saturday May 11th - Join us in beautiful Tillamook County for an on-the-water clinic for bank anglers to pursue spring chinook… (details)

Family Friendly Hike along the Wilson River, Sunday May 26th - The Wilson River provides some of the most accessible recreation opportunities in the Tillamook and Clatsop forests. Join us for a leisurely 3.5 mile stroll… (details)

Space is limited for these events. Please register early to ensure a spot. Visit our “Outings and Events” page for details.

Washington County Commission Resolution Supports Conservation Areas

On April 2nd, the Washington County Board of Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution that “endorses efforts by the Oregon Department of Forestry and the Board of Forestry to implement conservation areas on state forest lands, including the Tillamook State Forest, and encourages the state’s policy makers to pursue a sound forest policy that acknowledges the values and benefits of all forest resources including clean water, adequate fish and wildlife habitat, sustainable timber harvest, and recreation.”

You can send a note to thank the Commission here. The Washington County Commission joins Wheeler and Rockaway Beach as the first communities to pass resolutions for conservation areas. Clatsop County supported conservation areas in a letter last year. We hope to see more cities and counties pass supportive resolutions in the near future.

Kevin Weeks

We would like to express our deepest condolences over the passing of Kevin Weeks. Kevin was the Oregon Forestry staff person at the table as people entered the recent hearings on conservation areas. He was a model public servant. He was helpful, good humored, efficient, and thoughtful. He never hesitated to help our staff or volunteers when we attended forestry events, and he was always quick with a smile. He will be missed.


                 

As always, we appreciate your helping us to ensure the future balance of Oregon’s state forests. If you haven’t done so already, we encourage you to sign our petition, visit our website, like us on Facebook, or join us for an event.


Oregonians Speak up for State Forest Conservation Areas

March 21, 2013

By Chris Smith, State Forest Conservation Program Coordinator

The last eight months has seen Oregonians express significant support for the effort to create “High Value Conservation Areas” on state forest land. The formal process began at a Board of Forestry meeting last July (with roots extending beforehand) where members of the Sierra Club,  Oregon Trout Unlimited, the Association of Northwest Steelheaders, the Wild Salmon Center, and the Association of Northwest Guides & Anglers, along with other conservationists and elected officials expressed support for unprecedented Conservation Areas–areas classified to highlight and clarify lands that offer conservation values. The Board responded favorably to testimony and voted 4-2 to direct the Department of Forestry to begin drafting language for the new classification.

Since the Department drafted the new rule language, public comments supportive of HVCAs have been pouring in. As these areas will help improve fish and wildlife habitat, protect clean drinking water sources, maintain recreation areas, and mitigate landslide risk, favorable comments have come from a variety or perspectives.

The conservation community shows its support in Cannon Beach

The conservation community shows its support in Cannon Beach

The recent highlight of this process were extremely well-attended public hearings in Cannon Beach and Hillsboro. Testimony was overwhelmingly in favor of conservation areas and attendees included Washington County Commissioners Schouten and Malinowski, Clatsop County Commissioners Scott Lee, Debra Birkby, and Peter Huhtala, Wheeler City Mayor Stevie Burden, Cannon Beach Mayor Mike Morgan, and Cannon Beach City Councilor Melissa Cadwallader.

The hearings were a great success for the conservation community and we hope that the rule will be ratified at the June 5th Board of Forestry meeting in Salem. Comments can be submitted to the Department of Forestry until 5 pm on April 19th. Click here to voice your support!

Until June, we hope to continue to gather support and educate Oregonians about the management and values of our state forests. Visit the North Coast State Forest Coalition’s website for more information.


Nearing Unprecedented State Forest Conservation Areas

March 4, 2013

By Chris Smith, State Forest Conservation Program Coordinator

The Oregon Sierra Club has worked for years to protect the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests in Northwest Oregon and now, with a responsive Governor and Board of Forestry, we are on the cusp of the creation of “High Value Conservation Areas.”

This new classification will include fish and wildlife habitat, clean drinking water sources, landslide risk areas, and recreation spots. As we move forward, we hope to ensure that the classification is durable, robust, and long-lasting. This new classification language is a start, but there is work to be done and now is the time to do it!

Devil's Lake Fork in the Tillamook Forest

Devil’s Lake Fork in the Tillamook Forest

Those interested in impacting Oregon’s forest legacy are encouraged to attend either of the following public hearings:

Tuesday March 12: Cannon Beach Chamber of Commerce (207 North Spruce)
5 pm Open house with maps and pizza!
6 pm Formal public comment period begins

Wednesday March 13: Hillsboro Main Library
(2850 Brookwood Parkway)
5 pm Open house with maps and pizza!
6 pm Formal public comment period begins

If you have comments but cannot attend either of these hearings, click here!

For more information, email Chris Smith or visit www.forestegacy.org


Victory for Oregon’s State Forests!

July 27, 2012

Thanks so much to all the volunteers who helped the Sierra Club and our partners in the North Coast Forest Coalition pack the house at the Board of Forestry meeting in Tillamook yesterday! The Board voted 4-2 in favor of moving forward with a process to designate protected conservation areas in our state forests!  (Click here to learn more!)

 


Board of Forestry Moves to Create Conservation Areas on State Lands

July 27, 2012

Little North Fork Wilson River, Tillamook State Forest

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                            July 26, 2012

Forestry Board Moves to Protect Key Conservation Areas on State Lands

Strong local support from Tillamook, Clatsop and Washington Counties

Tillamook, OR: With a 4-2 vote today, the Oregon Board of Forestry voted to approve the creation of a new category of state lands that will be protected by rule for conservation of clean water, fish, and older forest habitat. The step marks a significant milestone since Governor Kitzhaber called on the Board late last year to establish new protections for high quality fish and wildlife habitat across the 500,000 acre Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests in northwest Oregon, and other state managed lands.

Fish conservation and forest protection groups have long called for creating a system of ‘conservation areas’ on state forest lands aimed at protecting high quality fish habitat, recreation areas, and the oldest forests on state lands from clearcutting and other damaging activities. “Visible and durable protections for clean water, fish habitat, and popular recreation areas are essential for public forests like the Tillamook and Clatsop. We’re pleased with the direction the Board headed today,” said Bob Van Dyk of the Wild Salmon Center.

In an unprecedented showing, dozens of residents from rural Tillamook and Clatsop Counties attended the meeting in support of strong conservation measures on state forests.

“It’s encouraging that the Department and Board of Forestry are beginning to recognize wild salmon and steelhead as a valuable forest product. Establishing core, protected, conservation areas is key to maintaining these iconic fish, which are a critical economic driver in our rural coastal communities. There should be lasting protections in place so we can introduce our children to this treasured natural resource,” said Bob Reese of the Tillamook County based Northwest Guides and Anglers Association.

“The rivers of Oregon’s north coast provide some of the best steelhead and salmon fishing in Oregon – long term habitat protection is key if we are to keep this resource strong,” said Ian Fergusson of the Association of Northwest Steelheaders.

“We applaud the Board and Department of Forestry, as well as Governor Kitzhaber, for moving forward with a clear vision for better protecting places like Kings Mountain and its hiking trails, fish habitat along the Salmonberry River, and blocks of older forests that provide rich wildlife habitat and clean water,” said Brian Pasko of the Oregon Chapter Sierra Club.

The Board’s vote today directs the Department of Forestry to establish by administrative rule a new land management category for lands with a protected status or high conservation focus. In the next phase, the Department will develop language for the draft rule and take public comment including on how and where lands will be protected.


Join is for Waldo Lake Weekend!

June 12, 2012

You’re invited to a weekend campout at Waldo Lake Shadow Bay Campground, August 24 – 26! This will be a nature feast of towering trees, wildflowers, campfires and marshmallows, and lakes with names like Bobby, Betty, Frog, Hidden and Found. There will be treks to mountain tops and shorter trails, too. Swim, float or watch waves lap in Waldo Lake. The campout offers you a chance to stretch your legs in nature’s wilds and to see why we’ve come to love Waldo.

Just 72 miles from Eugene and 93 miles south of Bend, the Waldo-Maiden Peak area offers wonderful recreation and a haven of wildlife habitat in old growth forests, pretty much the way it all was when Lewis and Clark came through Oregon. Realizing this area south and east of Waldo Lake is a real treasure worthy of preservation, the Oregon Chapter’s Eastside Forest Committee has mounted a campaign to protect it above and beyond its federal forest status. To find out more, see our Keep Waldo Wild web page.

Reserve your Shadow Bay campsite by going to the Waldo Weekend Campout web page. Register by email, phone, or by using the automated signup form there. The cost is only $10 per person or $20 per vehicle (two or more people) for Friday and Saturday nights. Payment can be made by mailing us a check or by credit card.

Don’t miss this fun-for-all weekend with old and new Sierra Club friends! Make your reservation today.


Oregon’s Ancient Forests Need Your Support

June 8, 2012

Western Oregon BLM old growth forest

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.

American Wilderness and National Parks Under Attack in Congress

April 18, 2012

What could be more American than Wilderness and National Parks?

Sadly, anti-environmental members of Congress are bent on dismantling protections for America’s Wilderness areas and National Parks, including for ‘national security’ along our borders (H.R. 1505 and S. 803), and to provide motorized access for those unwilling to abide by America’s Wilderness ethic of ‘leave no trace’ (H.R. 4089).

Please click here to take action to stop H.R. 1505/S.803 (details below)!

On April 17, the US House passed H.R. 4089, a bill with the laudable intention of providing continued recreational hunting and fishing opportunities on our federal public lands. However, a key section would allow motorized access, road construction, and even logging in protected Wilderness areas, activities that would destroy the pristine characteristics of designated Wilderness Areas. An amendment to the bill that would have clearly prevented oil and gas development, mining, logging and motorized activity in protected Wilderness failed, while another amendment passed that requires the President to receive approval from a state’s Governor and legislature before designating any new National Monuments under the Antiquities Act, which has allowed Presidents to designate National Monuments for over a century.

Unfortunately, two Oregon Democrats, Peter DeFazio and Kurt Schrader, joined House Republicans in voting to pass H.R. 4089.

Meanwhile, H.R. 1505 could come up for a House floor vote soon, and Congressmen DeFazio and Schrader in particular, clearly need to hear from Oregonians about this bill’s threat to Wilderness, National Parks, and wildlife. Simply put, H.R. 1505 would suspend environmental protection laws along the United States’ northern and southern borders in the name of national security. Anti-immigration forces are using the issue to undermine protected places like Olympic and Glacier National Parks, and Wilderness areas along the US borders with Canada and Mexico.

The so-called National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act (H.R. 1505), would permanently exempt border enforcement activities from more than 30 federal protection laws within 100 miles of the U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico.

Similarly, in the US Senate, Republican Arizona Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl have introduced the Border Security Enforcement Act of 2011 (S. 803), which would effectively give the Department of Homeland Security veto power over environmental protections on public lands within 150 miles of the border with Mexico.

Such a ham-handed approach to a detailed and complex issue such as balancing border enforcement with environmental protection may seem unprecedented, but it isn’t.

In 2008, the Department of Homeland Security used the Real ID Act to waive 36 laws. This allowed the department to construct barriers that now stretch 650 miles across the U.S.-Mexico border.

The Sierra Club Borderlands Team is working to ensure that the area along the border that splits the Pacific Northwest does not fall to the same fate of our southern borderlands.

Please take action today to urge Congress to vote ‘no’ on H.R. 1505 and S. 803!


BLM Logging Bill Bad for Oregon

March 9, 2012

Western Oregon BLM old growth forest

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.

Sierra Club Declares Oregon 2012 Session a Success for Forests and Wildlife

March 6, 2012

SALEM, Oregon – As the 2012 Oregon legislative session wound to a close on March 5, the Sierra Club declared the session a major success for Oregon’s forests and wildlife.

Significant legislation actively opposed by the Sierra Club that would have mandated unsustainably high logging levels on state forest lands, authorized lethal control of endangered wolves, and overturned a voter approved ban on hunting mountains lions with dogs all died during the short session.

Republican leaders in the evenly divided House of Representatives had made mandating higher logging levels across roughly 800,000 acres of state forestlands a top priority. The bill, HB 4098, was part of what has become a perennial effort by a handful of legislators to mandate high logging levels on state lands. But the bill was met with stiff opposition from Governor Kitzhaber and a coalition of conservation and fishing groups including the Sierra Club. While the bill passed one House committee, it died in another after a strong push by the Sierra Club and our allies.

“Oregonians want to see greater protection for old growth forests, fish, wildlife, clean water and recreational opportunities on state lands like the Tillamook, Clatsop and Elliott State Forests,” said Ivan Maluski, Conservation Director of the Oregon Chapter Sierra Club. “The annual effort at the legislature to ramp up clearcutting to unsustainable levels makes no sense, does nothing to help our economy when raw log exports are at an all time high, and ignores the tremendous economic value of recreation, clean water and salmon fisheries on public lands in the state.”

Another bill, HB 4158, would have cleared the way for killing wolves in Oregon currently protected under the state Endangered Species Act. Brought by the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association in what has become an annual attempt to make it easier to shoot wolves, this bill would have overturned a recent court ruling barring the elimination of half of Oregon’s Imnaha wolf pack, and cleared the way for greater lethal control of Oregon’s fragile, recovering wolf population, which numbers fewer than 30 animals. The bill passed the House with significant opposition, but fell flat in the Senate with thousands of Oregonians weighing in in opposition and a strong lobbying effort by the Sierra Club and other wildlife protection groups.

“With so much important business to take care of this month, it was profoundly disappointing that the legislature spent significant time debating whether to undermine protections for Oregon’s endangered wolves,” said Maluski. “Despite the objections of anti-wolf interests, the presence of wolves in Oregon brings both ecological and economic benefits to the state, and wolf recovery has become one of Oregon’s greatest conservation success stories and something we should all be proud of.”

Another piece of legislation, HB 4119, would have allowed recreational hunting of cougars with dogs on a county by county level, a rollback of Measure 18, which outlawed the practice in 1994. The state retains numerous tools to address cougars when they threaten livestock, pets or people, including the use of dogs by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife agents in limited situations. Despite this, some groups have been pushing to overturn the ban on recreational hound hunting since voters outlawed the unsportsmanlike practice nearly two decades ago. The bill passed a House committee but died in another, with the Sierra Club and other organizations that helped create the ban making a compelling case against rolling back the voter approved wildlife protection measure.

In a key conservation advancement, the Legislature also voted to create three new Marine Reserves in SB 1510. The Sierra Club has long supported an Oregon system of marine reserves, and this was a top priority of Governor Kitzhaber’s. The Legislature moved to act this year under threat of a potential citizen ballot initiative or executive order from the Governor designating larger numbers or marine reserves, which would be off-limits to fishing to help dwindling fish stocks recover and protect sensitive near-shore ocean habitats.

Despite a number of major threats this session, when the dust had settled, the 2012 Oregon Legislature was clearly a success for Oregon’s environment.


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