Eastside

Karen Coulter, measuring the diameter of a Ponderosa pine in Eastern Oregon. http://bluemountainsbiodiversityproject.org/.

To find Forest Defenders in Eastern Oregon. Contact Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project.

 

Where is the Deschutes National Forest?

The Deschutes National Forest encompasses 1.6 million acres extending from the eastern crest of the Cascade Mountains into high desert country east of Bend, Oregon.  The Deschutes contains five Wilderness areas, six National Wild and Scenic Rivers, and the Oregon Cascade Recreation Area. Forest Service headquarters are located in Bend, Oregon.

 

What are the dominant forest types in the Deschutes National Forest?

The dominant native forests types of the eastern Cascades include Mountain hemlock/Subalpine fir, Lodgepole pine, Ponderosa pine, Western juniper, and mixed-conifer forests.  Moist mixed-conifer forests contain species such as White fir, Grand fir, Douglas fir, Western larch, and others.  Ponderosa pine forests occur predominantly on south facing slopes, in lower elevations, and other warm and dry locations, and they are tolerant of drought and low-intensity fire. Moist mixed-conifer forests tend to occur on north facing slopes and other cool and moist locations, and have complex fire regimes that may include high-intensity, stand-replacing fires.

We are most concerned about logging in moist mixed-conifer forests, as well as all mature and never-logged forests, and riparian areas.  Numerous sensitive and at-risk species are dependent on these ecosystems and the unique habitats they contain.  In particular, the large snags, downed wood, and large mature trees within these unique areas are important for nesting, roosting, and foraging for many species.

 

Which animals live there?

Federally listed as Endangered: Northern spotted owl

Threatened: Bull trout, Canada Lynx, Pacific fisher (proposed to be listed)

Sensitive: Green-Tinged Indian Paintbrush and Newberry’s Gentian plants, and the Johnson’s Hairstreak butterfly

Management Indictor species: mule deer, elk, Northern goshawk, American marten, Lewis’ woodpecker, Cooper’s hawk, Pileated woodpecker, White-headed woodpecker, Inland Columbia River, and Basin Redband trout.

Others species in the forest include Neotropical migratory songbirds requiring denser interior forest or high canopy closure

 

Who lived here historically?

Before the European colonization of Oregon, Northern Paiute peoples lived in southeast Oregon. Each tribe or band occupied a specific territory, and their names were derived from a characteristic food source indicating their close relationship with the land.  The Hunipuitöka or Walpapi (Hunipui-Root-Eaters) lived along the Deschutes River, Crooked River, and John Day River in Central Oregon.  They are currently federally recognized as part of the Burns Paiute Tribe.  Pinyon nuts, grass seeds, roots, and the cambium from trees were important parts of their diet. Communal drives, which often involved neighboring bands, would take rabbits and pronghorn from surrounding areas.

What is considered Old Growth in eastern Oregon?

Trees in drier eastside forests grow more slowly than those in the rain forests west of the Cascades. For most tree species on the eastside, those that have a 21” diameter at breast height are considered Old Growth. Most National Forests in eastern Oregon have a 21” diameter limit which prohibits logging of large mature and old growth trees. However, in some National Forests throughout eastern Oregon, the 21” limit has been repeatedly violated by passing “site-specific Forest Plan amendments” which are used as loopholes to log old growth and mature large trees. The 21″ limit only applies to areas within the Deschutes National Forest that are not within range of the Northern spotted owl. Portions of the Deschutes which contain Northern spotted owls are managed according to the Northwest Forest Plan, which has no diameter limits. And many large trees over 21” have been cut in areas managed by the Northwest Forest Plan in the Deschutes.

 

What do the timber sales look like?

The Forest Service manages timber sales on the Deschutes and other National Forests; these sales continue to include clearcuts, heavy commercial logging in old growth forests, and other ecologically destructive practices.  Timber sales in the eastside are often very large, usually between 4,000 to 12,000 acres of commercial logging, and usually include a variety of ecosystems and forest types within a single timber sale.  Environmental assessments done by the Forest Service to analyze potential impacts often do not adequately consider impacts to the variety of unique habitats within the timber sale area, or the cumulative impacts of numerous timber sales on habitats and species.

 

Is the Forest Service managing fire responsibly?

Logging to reduce fire risk is ineffective and not based on the full range of current science. Many timber sales in the Deschutes are called “fuels reduction” or “restoration” projects, and unfortunately occur on many thousands of acres across widespread areas, including in known sensitive habitats.  Timber sales decimate forest habitat and cover for deer and elk. “Fuels reduction” projects, clearcutting, and other forms of logging result in extensive areas of compacted soils, giant slash piles, the spread of invasive plant species, water quality degradation, and negative impacts to many species. Slash piles which are often left adjacent to recently logged forests have been shown to contribute to increased fire risk.  In addition, many “fuels reduction” projects occur in the backcountry deep within the National Forest. Scientific studies suggest that logging in the backcountry does not reduce the impact of forest fires approaching houses. The most effective strategy for protecting buildings is to maintain a clear space immediately surrounding the building, not through clearcutting or other logging on national forests.

 

Who is benefiting from logging on public lands?

Timber Companies of the Deschutes National Forest include: Interfor, a Canadian corporation, with a recently built mill in Gilchrist.

The Forest Service fails to quantify or adequately address non-timber economic contributions in the Bend area. Bend is an area where tourism based on natural values employs a far greater number of people, and has been found to be over four times greater than wood products associated employment.

What are people doing about it?

Since 1991, Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project (BMBP) has worked to protect and restore the forests of eastern Oregon. They work on four National Forests- the Umatilla, Malheur, Ochoco, and Deschutes. BMBP’s efforts and litigation have led to precedent-setting legal victories, essential habitat protections, and beneficial environmental case law, which aids in the efforts of other environmental groups. The evidence for these lawsuits is gathered by BMBP volunteers who survey all proposed public land projects. They document forest health and diversity, listed and management indicator species, sensitive waterways, and impacts of past management. This information is used to fight ecologically destructive logging and other harmful projects. Read more about BMBP at http://bluemountainsbiodiversityproject.org/.

In 2012 unidentified activists hung a banner on a stack of logs in the woods, accusing the Forest Service of “Eliminating” old growth forests in the EXF timber sale. Karen Coulter of Blue Mountains Biodiversity wrote an article in response to the EXF timber sale.

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