The saga of the Bureau of Land Management’s Western Oregon Plan Revision (WOPR) continues, but the BLM has finally conceded that the WOPR (pronounced ‘whopper’) is fatally flawed. Originally proposed by the Bush administration as a scheme to double logging across roughly 2 million acres of public land managed by the BLM in western Oregon, it would have increased clearcutting in threatened old growth forests.
Discerning readers might remember that early in 2009, Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar voided the WOPR, calling it legally indefensible. The Sierra Club had previously campaigned for nearly 2 years to stop the WOPR, but it was ultimately finalized at the 11th hour by the outgoing Bush administration amidst a cloud of political tampering from the White House. Salazar’s decision in early 2009 to scrap the WOPR was a clear victory for Oregon’s old growth forests, wild salmon, and wildlife. In the meantime, BLM has moved forward with far less controversial thinning in younger stands, and pilot projects intended to reduce fire risk. Despite this, the timber industry was not satisfied and earlier this year won a lawsuit on procedural grounds in Washington, DC declaring that Salazar had improperly scrapped the WOPR, putting it back in effect, or at least in renewed legal limbo.
Then, on Friday July 1, with the timber industry planning further legal maneuvering to force the development of new old growth timber sales, the BLM filed papers in support of an environmental lawsuit in federal court in Portland urging the judge to rule with environmentalists that the WOPR is flawed and to toss it out once and for all.
As they say, elections really do matter. Here’s some press from the most recent WOPR developments: