This morning, activists with Cascadia Forest Defenders hung a banner across Cascade Lakes Highway in protest of the Forest Service’s plans to clearcut and log old growth on public land. The banner reads “Blue Marks = Proposed Cuts! Forests Need Old Growth.” Some of the trees slated for cutting are visible directly from the road and are marked by blue paint on about four miles along Cascade lakes highway.
Cascadia Forest Defenders demands a stop to commercial logging on the Deschutes National Forest and on all public lands. “It is unacceptable for these supposed stewards of the forest to continue clearcutting sensitive species habitat, targeting old large-diameter trees, fragmenting ancient ecosystems, and denying Oregon recreationalists access to the places they love,” activist Richard Hayley said.
The “Lex Vegetation Management Project” and the “West Bend Vegetation Management Project” are two controversial timber sales in the Deschutes National Forest. The Lex timber sale proposes 6,500 acres of commercial logging only about 10 miles from Bend. The sale includes potential Northern Spotted Owl habitat and stands of never-before-logged forest. Other parts of the sale have been logged in the past and are just now beginning to recover – they should be left to grow.
The 25,000-acre West Bend timber sale includes about 14,000 acres of very heavy logging and clearcutting. The sale runs alongside the Deschutes River near Lava Island, a popular recreation area. It is comprised of mostly of a thriving, healthy and mature forest.
Both timber sales are home to deer, elk, bear, grouse, American marten, Northern goshawk, and black-backed woodpecker. These areas also suffer from drought, stream damage by past logging, and are especially vulnerable to soil erosion and other consequences of timber harvest.
“The West Bend and Lex sales are very alarming to us,” said activist Erin Grady. “How can the Forest Service justifiably cut 31,500 acres of fragile forest on public land? Do they really think that the scores of Oregonians who hike, camp, and bike in Central Oregon want this to happen?”
The mismanagement of the Deschutes National Forest is inexcusable. Clearcutting, salvage logging, and suppressing healthy and natural wildfires are practices that benefit the timber industry, not ecosystems.