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Groups Sue to Block Timber Harvest in Western Oregon


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Oregon O&C lands provide habitat for the federally threatened Northern Spotted Owl and continue to be a source of controversy between logging interests and conservation groups. (Credit: David Patte, USFWS)

Oregon O&C lands provide habitat for the federally threatened Northern Spotted Owl and continue to be a source of controversy between logging interests and conservation groups. (Credit: David Patte, USFWS)

Two regional environmental groups, Oregon Wild and Cascadia Wildlands, filed a federal lawsuit on January 22 against the Bureau of Land Management to halt timber harvest plans in western Oregon. The groups sought to stall “ecological forestry” projects including clear cuts and an increase in timber harvests, arguing that the BLM did not conduct a thorough environmental assessment of the plan.

The White Castle harvest, on lands set aside for commercial timber sales under the Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP), is part of the Roseburg Pilot Project in southwest Oregon planned under former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. Some tracts that are included have never been harvested and are designated as critical habitat for the northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina), though the plan would preserve areas of old growth and dead snags to maintain habitat for wildlife. The project precedes proposed legislation by Senator Wyden of Oregon as a test of ecological forestry model efficacy, which includes development of forest stands while mimicking natural disturbance.

The environmental groups are asking for what they call “environmentally responsible” alternatives to clear cutting in habitats of threatened wildlife. They argue that the agency disregarded red tree vole (Arborimus longicaudus) survey and management protocols under the NWFP and should have conducted a more comprehensive environmental impact statement as opposed to the shorter environmental assessment.

Sources: E&E News PM (January 22, 2014), Oregonlive (January 22, 2014)



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