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.
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.