Bureau of Land Management Releases Chaos on Oregon Forests!

In the last year, Cascadia Forest Defenders protested BLM timber sales such as John’s Last Stand, which even the BLM thought better of auctioning, possibly because those sales broke their own rules. The Northwest Forest Plan has set the minimum bar for forest health since 1994. Now the BLM, without so much as a legislative mandate, has tossed even that out the window in favor of a new set of rules founded on greed and dirty politics not science and common sense.

We’d see more wasteful clear cuts under the BLM’s Revised Management Plan for Western Oregon. Calling for massive logging increases in 80- to 150-year-old forests, the plan would guarantee that Oregon would never have more ancient forest than it does today.

By cutting stream buffers in half to log the larger timber from riparian zones, the plan lowers protection for the drinking water of 1.8 million Oregonians while putting valuable fisheries at risk. The plan further fails to protect threatened and endangered species by dropping the scientific mandate to survey and manage.

The plan also fails to adequately consider the climate crisis. Instead, while the BLM acknowledges that the trees are worth more sequestering carbon, it commits to meeting the mandates of the 1937 O&C Act that everyone agrees is out of date.

While the plan benefits the Oregon timber industry and politicians they subsidize, the majority of Oregon’s citizens will lose more forest recreation, water, fisheries, and wildlife. Rather than see our forests cut to pad corporate pockets further, Cascadia Forest Defenders is calling for a moratorium on logging on public land. Reformation of the timber taxes on the largest Oregon timber corporations could easily fund western county services while retaining jobs in the forest.

If this lawless raid on our public forest makes you afraid, angry, and/or tearful, turn that energy into action! Your public officials actually need to hear from you that you want your air clean, your water present, and your ancient forests standing. Weird, huh? So, write your congressmen and senators and your president. And, perhaps you’d like to attend Congressman Defazio’s campaign kick-off on August 16 (6pm, 155 Blair, Eugene). He definitely needs reminding that passing bills in Congress that call for increased logging does not serve the people of Oregon. Remind him and other politicians that without a new law to protect this proposed BLM plan revision, the plan will not stand up in the courts. When they talk about how to fund public services, remind them of all those tax cuts they have given big timber since the 1990s, and tell them to stop the corporate welfare.

If that sounds too heady, just get out in the woods and start holding them down. That is what we mean by a moratorium on logging on public land. Our next Public Hike will be to some Old Growth near Eugene on August 27 to see what Nature can do when we stop interfering. Carpool leaves Sequential on McVay at 10 am. Bring a lunch and some water. See you in the trees!

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*We***Want to Spend the End of the World with You

Cascadia Forest Defenders and the League of Extra-Ornery Cascadians are pleased to announce the Earth First! Northwest Rendezvous, from June 10-13, 2016, in the heart of the southern Cascades.

Get ready for a long, very hot summer of action with our traditional socializing/working fest, unwinding in the old forest with old friends, meeting new friends and allies, sharing meals and skills and crazy ideas, and maybe a soft drink or cup of ale. Take a plant hike, a dip in the river, climb an ancient Doug or Buffalo Rock, or troop up into one of the nearby threatened forests (you may be back).

We’ve got: an incredible old-growth site that runs for over a mile along a lovely, if potentially lethal, river. Delicious water, a certain amount of medical resources, noon circles, and fabulous company that’s guaranteed to increase your chances of federal surveillance and higher standing with your grandchildren, grand-nephews and nieces, etc. And they’re pretty good hands with wildlands survival, plants, navigation, tree climbing, direct action strategy and tactics, ecology, regional history, and many other things in which you might be interested. Expect some formalized workshops. Maybe plan on sharing what you know.

You bring: your sustainable self, which should include food, a means to prepare same* (no centralized community kitchen; this is old-school), camping gear, bug-repellant, rain gear, decent closed-toe shoes, headlamp, CUP, plate and/or bowl, fork and/or spoon, party clothes, bio-centric pov, capacity to disregard the rule of law (or accept and support that disregard in others), tolerance and sense of humor. Musical (or similar) talents are revered and appreciated.

Please don’t bring: dogs (leg-hold traps have been found in the area, and wildlife could use one less hassle on the landscape), an abusive attitude, secret microphones, or any idea your workshop needs to be mandatory.

So, you wanna get up in the old-growth, trying to halt a roadless area timber sale, or get acquainted with the kayak mob and the oil blockaders? Come out to the woods and check us out. Stick around Monday for a kick-ass action(s). Heck, why not just make a summer of it?

*a small pot or pan and cook stove; though a foil wrapped spud in a small camp fire will get it done. There will be inevitable informal potlucking, as well.

Directions:

The site is on the banks of the North Fork of the Middle Fork of the Willamette River, 20-some miles north of the human settlements of Westfir and Oakridge, Oregon. Most seeking the ‘voo will travel north or south on Interstate 5, as the case may be, to turn east onto Hwy 58, just south of Eugene. At the Middle Fork Ranger Station (a bit past Mile Post 31), the traveler will turn left at the sign for Westfir, cross a green trestle bridge over the Middle Fork, and make a left at the stop sign. A few miles along this road, the traveler will encounter a 4-way stop and a red covered bridge on the left hand side of the road. Proceeding straight through, the road changes it’s name to FS Rd 19, also referred to as the Aufderheide Loop. Traveling north through ancient forest and thinned second-growth along the beautiful and risky North Fork for 20.7 miles (there are mile markers along FS Rd 19), just after crossing our river to put it on the south side of the road, the attentive rondyvooer will turn left up FS Rd 1939, and follow that back west. They’ll follow this road, ignoring the right fork (FS Rd 758) about ½ mile up, and will find a trailhead marker and trail about 1.5 miles from the 19 Rd. We’ll call this the Front Gate and with little parking here, gear should be unloaded and the vehicle moved further up the road to be parked, as per direction from the Front Gate crew.

Those travelers determined to approach from the east will have to hit Hwy 58 off of I-97, between Chemult and La Pine, drive through Oakridge, and make the turn to Westfir as described in the directions above.

There is no cell reception at the site.

The BLM’s Dangerous Resource Management Plan Revisions

The Resource Management Plan for Western Oregon is up for revisions. The Bureau of Land Management is proposing a new forest plan that could dramatically change the way our public lands are managed over the next decade and increase our region’s contribution to climate change with devastating effect of the wildlife and waterways. The worst part is they intend to slash the public process around survey and manage mandates which will limit the legal teeth we have in defending our forests.

We are drafting our own comment letter as we continue gathering information, but wanted to give you plenty of time to write your own letter.  Here is a press release with a link to the plan revisions as information on how to comment. This is really, really important! Comments are due by May 15. Those of you who are interested in writing a letter but looking for more inspiration, can read Ernie Niemi’s letter to the BLM discussing the impact on climate change and socioeconomic factors in our region.

 

If you want to take the easy road on this one, we’ll post a template letter soon you can sign.

Wildflowers of John’s Last Stand

Check out the spring ephemerals we found on our hike to John’s Last Stand on Saturday! Many of these wildflowers will disappear after a soil disturbance event such as commercial logging.

Calypso bulbosa (Fairy slipper or calypso orchid) is pollinated by bumble bees. It has a symbiotic relationship with a specific mycorrhizal fungus in the soil which makes it hard to transplant and sensitive to disturbance–it is only found in native montane forests such as John’s Last Stand. The corms (bulbs) were a food source for indigenous people of this bioregion.

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Trillium ovatum (Western White Trillium) is a no-pick species in Oregon because it is slow to propagate via its rhizomes and has limited dispersal via seeds. The seeds take a long time to mature after the flower senesces and are only dispersed short distances by ants. The flowers change from white to purple as they age.

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Synthris reniformis (Snow queen) is one of the first flashes of color seen on the forest floor after the snow melt. It is native to the west Cascade mountains.

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Viola sp. (violet) is another common native found in the Pacific Northwest. It’s flowers and leaves are edible (in small quantities) and its close relative Viola odorata is valued by some an herbal medicine.

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Cardamine sp.

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Cardamine nuttallii (Spring Beauty or Oaks toothwort) grows in deep humus soils in moist mid- to low-elevation forests on the Cascadia bioregion.

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Thanks for reading, stay tuned for our next public hike! Photos by Gabe Lent.

 

 

 

What’s in a name: John’s Last Stand and a history of federal land management

John Muir

John’s Last Stand?

Professor Norm Johnson “sees the [variable retention harvest] pilot projects as a policy test for a new management paradigm that challenges the divide between forest reserves and timber harvest areas. That schism, he says, harkens all the way back to the split between John Muir’s preservationist ideals and Gifford Pinchot’s utilitarian forestry, which laid the foundation for federal land management.” (High Country News, May 6, 2013)

John Muir vs. Gifford Pinchot

The philosophical split between John Muir and Gifford Pinchot was deep and enduring. They both helped shape the landscape we have inherited. The differences between these men was vast, despite their common love of wilderness in the late 1800s. For starters, Pinchot was a gain-seeking exploitive capitalist who lacked honesty. He loved wilderness like some of us love donuts. Muir, on the other hand, had a spiritual longing which took him to the far reaches of our land, often in solitude and sometimes for no other reason than the joy of it. There are some well-documented interactions between the two men. Once, while exploring the Grand Canyon with some other intrepid souls, Pinchot went to stomp a tarantula and was stopped by Muir who explained that the spider had as much right to be on the trail as everyone else. Their relationship soured when Muir came across a quote from Pinchot in a newspaper saying that grazing sheep would not be harmful to wild lands. Muir reminded Pinchot that Pinchot knew better based on his own experience. Pinchot later remarked that, “John Muir once called them hoofed locusts, and he was right.” (http://www.safnet.org/fp/documents/pinchot_muri_split_07.pdf) The Douglas fir along the trail to Mt. June that looks down on the sale called “John’s Last Stand” would have been high over our heads when John Muir died in 1914.

John’s Last Stand (JLS), so aptly named, is a 49-acre variable regeneration harvest (VRH) less than an hour south east of Eugene. Professor Norm Johnson would be quick to point out that the timber sale plan requires six to eight live trees per acre to be left in this ancient stand. Along with Doug fir, the site is heavy with western hemlock. Yew trees grow along its edges. Madrone and golden chinkapin give a leafy break to the grey brown pillars of the pine trunks. Nick Cady of Cascadia Wildlands was not fooled and called the sale an “old-growth clearcutting project.” VRH methodology has been around a long time for treating overgrown plantations of timber, but Ecologist Jerry Franklin and Economist Norm Johnson, prompted by our elected officials, are the first to propose using this technique in ancient forest. Doug Heiken of Oregon Wild! has called VRH “a cynical attempt to pass off clearcutting century-old trees as restoration.”

Seneca-Jones’ handiwork near the Buck Rising VRH timber slaughter 20 miles southeast of Roseburg on BLM lands

In 2013, the Cascadia Forest Defenders took to the trees at a sale called “White Castle” near Myrtle Creek, Oregon. They went there to stop a VRH pilot project on 187 acres in mature forest just like the forest at JLS. The site was occupied for ten months through heat, nearby fire, rain, and snow until Attorney Jennifer Schwarz, aided by Nick Cady, filed suit to protect that critical habitat and call into question the validity of using VRH methods in mature stands. In March 2015, their litigation was successful. Not only was the White Castle sale canceled, but the Bureau of Land Manangement (BLM) pulled out of other VRH sales including “Second Show” near Eugene and the remainder of “Deer North” in Southern Oregon.

At JLS, the BLM proposes to make a 49-acre gouge on the edge of the Hardesty Roadless Area, one of the last remaining tracts of intact forest near Eugene that is uninterrupted by roads or heavy human activity. Ironically, the Sierra Club, founded by none other than John Muir, has been trying to create a designated Wilderness Area here for several years.

The Hardesty area is frequented by hikers and mountain bikers and is athe headwaters of the Lost Creek Watershed, which includes the Lost Valley Permaculter Center. Because the sale is in a roadless area, three helicopter pads are proposed to aid in the extraction of forest. One of the pad’s locations is right next to an area designated “no-cut” due to wildlife habitat.

Choose your own adventure:

(Alternate Ending #1)

John’s Last Stand might be just that. The good news is that impending economic collapse is on our side. This might just be the last time we have to suit up and show up before it all goes toes up forever. Life comes with no guarantees of tomorrows, but as long as there is a today, we prefer ours with intact ancient forests. Please join us in John’s Last Stand this spring. “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike.”

—John Muir Cascadia

(Alternate Ending #2)

John’s Last Stand does not have to be. If our public officials were made aware that so many people are scrutinizing their participation in our deforestation, that their future chances of fundraising and re-election could be impacted, perhaps they would tell the BLM to drop this and all VRH sales. Please call them now and tell them you are mad as hell and not going to send them money or vote for them until they stop echoing the wishes of big timber when addressing the US Forest Service and the BLM. Tell them to start encouraging forest management that favors preservation of what wild places we have left.

The most important public officials to contact are:

Representative Peter DeFazio

202-225-6416 (DC) or 541-465-6732 (Eugene)

Senator Ron Wyden

541-431-0229

Senator Jeff Merkely

541-465-6750

Find other US senators and representatives at:

https://www.opencongress.org/people/zipcodelookup

Brought to you by the Cascadia Forest Defenders

http://www.forestdefensenow.com

The Goose is cooked

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Goose, a controversial timber sale we stalled with a tree sit in 2012, is back on the cutting block for 2016. Stay tuned for updates, we are currently waiting on a judicial sign-off that the US Forest Service Final Decision of Record meets environmental assessment legal mandates. Here’s a brief history of Goose to date. 

On April 23 of 2012 after much public opposition to the Goose timber project, CFD took direct action by organizing a tree sit in a 150 year old Douglas fir within US Forest Service proposed sale unit.

 2012: CFD protesters called for an immediate halt of the proposed sale. The protesters intended to draw attention to the lack of transparency of the project. The Goose logging project proposal appears to have the intention of restoration when in reality the plan includes thinning and virtual clear-cutting of old-growth. This project included logging 2,000 acres of public land, located around the community of McKenzie Bridge. This would supply the timber industry with 38 million board feet while it degrades the habitat of the spotted owls and salmon in the watershed. Not to mention co-option of public land valued for recreation with high visibility from Hwy 126.

On Goose’s terms

Euphemisms such as “regeneration harvests” make the proposed plans of the Goose harvest appear benign or even ecologically beneficial, but what does this actually mean? Well according to the Goose (EIS), a “regeneration harvest” means leaving an average 20 trees per acre, claiming it will help establish future stands that are needed to mitigate “inter-tree competition,” which conveniently coincides with their profit goals. They claim that the harvest of these stands will help create a “beneficial micro-climate” that will help the stand avoid invasive insect infestation and develop a “more complex stand structure in 30 to 50 years with a two aged canopy layer” that “more closely” resembles what “may” have naturally happened on the landscape. Numerous studies show that intensive logging causes significant soil compaction and erosion while the removal of mature trees leads to net carbon emissions from the ecosystem. Existing wild life habitat and public recreation will be negatively impacted.

Goose History/Timeline:

On Earth-Day of 2012, Cascadia Forest Defenders erected a tree-sit in the Goose timber sale. At that time the project called for logging on 1,817 acres, 1765 of which was to be commercially thinned, 322 acres more intensely logged into clearings of 1-3 acres; 41 acres virtually clearcut (6-15 trees left standing), and 11 acres with largest trees left uncut. 668 acres were to include fuel reduction work of brush/shrubs/small trees cut/piled/burned. At that time the sale was expected to produce 38 million board feet timber (according to Oregon Live).

According to U.S. Forest Service (USFS) website, the September 13, 2010 Goose Project’s Environmental Assessment (Alternative 2) proposed 1,443 acres of thinning, 322 acres of gap creation, 41 acres “regeneration harvest”, “skips” on 283 acres, 11 acres of releasing dominant trees. The project “implementation” started in 2011 when 3 harvest contracts were sold—two to Seneca Sawmill and one to Freres Lumber.

In May 2012 Cascadia Wild and Oregon Wild sued and effectively halted the project, saying the USFS failed to disclose enough information about potential environmental impacts of the project, including that they did not fully assess impacts of proposed actions on northern spotted owl and barred owl habitat competition and the effects on the northern spotted owl of logging in riparian reserves.

The project was litigated in 2013 by Oregon Wild and Cascadia Wild, and Western Environmental Law Center, with Cascadia Wild’s website mentioning the sale was controversial for its mature forest clear cutting, extensive logging in McKenzie River riparian areas, and building road within potential-wilderness area of Lookout Mountain.

In close proximity to Oregon’s second largest urban area of Eugene/Springfield. The Goose Project proposes massive timber harvest surrounding the town of McKenzie Bridge. Local community members collected nearly 5k signatures in opposition to the sale.

On March 26, 2013, District Court of Oregon ordered USFS to do “a more thorough environmental analysis and bring local affected land owners into the process.”–Cascadia Wild. Specifically, USFS was ordered to write an environmental impact statement (EIS), which they set about writing.

Then time passed.

Fall 2015: Cascadia Wild’s stated that this is now a nearly 2,500 acre logging proposal, still set to heavily impact riparian areas and fish species, lower water quality, clearcut log, and target older forest. At least the forests service has completed the mandatory legal documentation about how they intend to degrade the local ecosystem for perceived economic sustainability.

February 2016: USFS proposes fuel reduction and commercial logging on 2,452 acres, with the logging to include thinning, nearly-clear cutting (strategically termed “regeneration harvesting”), and creating “gaps”–small clear cuts. USFS claims the project is necessary “to provide a sustainable supply of timber products,” change the forest structure, and reduce fuels around urban areas in McKenzie Bridge. This Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is a revision of the 2010 environmental analysis in response to the 2013 court order. It more thoroughly “analyses” spotted owl vs. barred owl habitat competition, reiterates in better legal language the USFS need to log within Riparian Reserves “to achieve ACS objectives” and explains the impacts on a proposed wilderness area. USFS duly set up public comment periods, announcements, and responses to process comments. About 700 letters were received regarding Goose. The final EIS was finished in August 2015 and an official Record of Decision signed February 2, 2016. The forest service has now made its forest habitat degradation plan more thoroughly legally documented but no less ecologically impactful.

The area has already been heavily logged and we are prepared to defend the heritage trees that remain. We are currently waiting on a judicial decision by Judge Ann Aiken on whether or not the revisions meet legal requirements and sufficiently address public concerns.