WOPR - Conservation Perspective

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The Bureau of Land Management (under G.W. Bush) adopted the Western Oregon Plan Revision which will significantly increase old growth clearcutting on public forests in western Oregon. Here is an …

The Bureau of Land Management (under G.W. Bush) adopted the Western Oregon Plan Revision which will significantly increase old growth clearcutting on public forests in western Oregon. Here is an explanation why it's a very bad idea.

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  • 1. Western Oregon Plan Revision: Conservation Perspective Doug Heiken Oregon Wild (formerly Oregon Natural Resources Council) [email_address] | www.oregonwild.org
  • 2. Why we need the Northwest Forest Plan.
  • 3. Why we need the Northwest Forest Plan.
  • 4. The Legacy of Past Abuse is Still With Us.
  • 5. Clearcuts and storms don’t mix.
  • 6. Northwest Forest Plan to the rescue …
    • Protect existing high quality habitat; restore much of what has been destroyed by logging; and reduce road impacts. Provide timber as an outcome not a goal.
    • Protect large old-growth reserves and provide dispersal habitat between them.
    • Protect wide stream buffers for aquatic and terrestrial benefits.
    • Interagency cooperation. BLM and USFS must work together.
    • Political compromise left 1 million acres of old forest unprotected.
    • Judge Dwyer said the NWFP provides bare minimum protection of ecosystems and provides maximum logging allowable under the law.
    • The plan has been generally successful. Habitat is protected. Timber targets generally achieved except when the agencies failed to follow the law.
  • 7. BLM lands are essential to prevent extinction. “ [T]he Oregon Coast Range Physiographic Province has been identified as an area of concern, where the density of northern spotted owls is one-eighth of that recorded in other coastal areas. Habitat conditions on lands administered the Bureau of Land Management within the Oregon Coast Range Province are critical for maintaining a well-distributed, connected network of nesting, roosting, and foraging habitat .” (SAT, Ch 2 p 69. Citations omitted.) “ The majority of owls and owl habitat (about 85 percent) are currently found on Federal lands . These lands are particularly important in the State of Oregon because very little owl habitat remains on non-Federal lands in that state. The Oregon and California lands, managed by the Bureau are more crucial to owl conservation than many other lands . ” Fed. Reg. Jan 15, 1992. Final rule designating critical habitat for the northern spotted owl.
  • 8. Timber is flowing Source: BLM State Office
  • 9. Oregon & California Lands Act
    • The O&C Lands Act of 1937 is NOT a “dominant use” statute.
    • The O&C Act recognizes multiple uses : permanent forest production, community economic stability, watershed protection, regulating water flow, and recreation facilities.
    • The O&C Act is not a free pass to avoid compliance with the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water Act.
    • BLM must harmonize the O&C Act and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act. BLM can’t force a conflict when conflict is avoidable.
    • The timber industry’s favorite court opinion ( Headwaters ) was relevant before the Northern spotted owl was listed as Threatened. Not so much now.
  • 10. WOPR Summary Across 2.6 million acres, WOPR involves:
    • Four-fold increase in logging. One million log truck loads in the first decade.
    • Dramatic increase in old-growth clearcutting. The plan would focus on clearcutting mature forests in the first 15 years, then target the old growth. 96,000 acres of existing classic old-growth forest allocated for logging.
    • Fewer, smaller old-growth reserves . 460,000 acres lose protected status. There is no limit on the age or size of trees that an be cut in reserves. Reserves are smaller than the minimum needed for recovery of threatened species.
    • Worst case clearcutting. Zero green tree retention, which is even less than minimal requirements of the Oregon Forest Practices Act. Owl nest stands left unprotected.
  • 11. WOPR Summary: Aquatics
    • Dramatically reduced protection for streams . Stream buffers reduced by half, and logging would be allowed in the outer 2/3 of the narrower buffers.
    • Degraded water quality. More clearcutting, 1300 more miles of roads, and more off-road vehicles will make it harder to fix 600+ miles of already polluted streams on BLM land.
         
    • The Aquatic Conservation Strategy is eliminated. No more ACS objectives, no more standards and guidelines.
    • The riparian network’s role in wildlife dispersal is ignored .
       
  • 12. WOPR Summary: People
    • Communities threatened by fire. Logging will make forests, hotter, dryer, and windier, and convert fire-resilient old forests into dense young forests that are more prone to high severity fire.
    • Drinking watersheds lose protection. 255,000 acres currently protected in municipal watersheds will be reallocated for logging.
    • Logging will accelerate climate change. Logging will emit 180 million tons of carbon compared to letting the forests grow. Equal to 1 million cars driven for over 100 years (or operating a large coal plant for over 100 years).
    • Reduced county payments . Even with more logging, the counties’ share of timber receipts would be less than 2/3 of what they have been getting from the “Secure Rural Schools” program.
  • 13. County Payments
    • Senator Wyden wisely “ decoupled ” county finances from timber receipts.
    • The WOPR anticipates recoupling, which involves a huge increase in logging and a huge decrease in county payments .
  • 14. WOPR Won’t Solve County Payments * Logging levels of the late 1980s are not a valid reference point because those harvest levels were boosted by a Senator Hatfield’s infamous appropriations rider that set aside environmental laws and caused unsustainable logging. * Recoupling remains risky: It is unlikely that BLM can fully implement such a large and highly controversial increase in old growth logging. illegal = bad Decoupled = good implausible WOPR = RMP
  • 15.
    • Counties should not have to face the “ Sophie’s Choice ” between quality of life provided by vertical forests, and budget dollars provided by horizontal forests.
    • Future appropriations for county payments could be based on ecosystem services such as clean water, carbon storage, and conservation of endangered fish & wildlife.
    County Payments
  • 16. WOPR undermines other plans …
    • The Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds.
    • Regulatory stability for non-federal land owners.
    • Water Quality Management Plans and TMDLs.
    • Past decisions that certain species are NOT threatened or endangered.
    • Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) on non-federal lands.
    Policies have become interdependent. Each of these relies on the Northwest Forest Plan to carry the conservation burden.
  • 17. What’s at Stake …            
  • 18. What’s at Stake … “ [T]he Northwest Forest Plan … serves as the conservation anchor for the Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds. The Northwest Forest Plan in turn took pressure off of private lands to provide for recovery of spotted owls, murrelets, and salmonids listed under the ESA. Our fear is that a leaner forest plan would no longer provide adjacent non-federal forest lands protection from added land use restrictions to comply with federal environmental laws.” Roy Woo, Oregon Department of Forestry letter to Forest Service regarding new forest planning rules, 4-7-03. “ Reduced long-term distribution of spotted owl habitat linking the Oregon Coast Range, Klamath Mountains, and Oregon Cascades West Physiographic Provinces is highly likely to reduce chances of spotted owls moving among these provinces. The distribution of Habitat Conservation Areas proposed by the Interagency Scientific Committee on National Forests alone will not meet the Interagency Scientific Committee’s Strategy’s requirements for well-distributed blocks of habitat connected by dispersal habitat.” (SAT, Ch 2 p 69. Citations omitted.)
  • 19. Common Sense Alternative
    • Elements of a plan that works :
    • Work within the Northwest Forest Plan.
    • Protect all the remaining mature and old-growth forests on federal land.
    • Refocus the agencies’ efforts toward ecological restoration of dense young forests, crumbling roads, and degraded streams.
    • Achieve social and economic objectives through thinning and forest restoration.
    • Reduce fuels where needed near homes and communities.
    • Shared Benefits :
    • Improve habitat, water quality, carbon storage/climate mitigation, recreation, quality of life that attracts quality workers and businesses
    • Create jobs, provide some small logs to mills, and engage local communities in forest management.
    • Reduce public conflict over logging mature and old-growth forests and wildlife habitat requirements. Fewer appeals and lawsuits.
    • Greater public support for federal forest management.
    • Lower management costs. Fewer surveys. Simpler environmental review.
    • The time is now …
  • 20. Thinning needs abound… Before thinning…
  • 21. Thinning work, after …
  • 22. So much work to do … So many acres, so little time. Thin young forest YES Log old forest NO
  • 23. Oregonians love their forests.
  • 24.  
  • 25.
    • Mature and old-growth forests provide:
      • Clean drinking water
      • Flood control
      • Soil stabilization
      • Recreation
      • Hunting and fishing
      • Endangered species habitat
      • Carbon storage for a livable climate.
      • Quality of life that attracts skilled workers and new business.
  • 26. Useful Links
    • Oregon Wild: http:// www.oregonwild.org
    • Oregon Heritage Forests: http:// www.oregonheritageforests.org
    • BLM: http://www.blm.gov/or/plans/wopr/index.php