1/90 (Article1): Status of contested local timber sales; being forced into helping fulfill timber quotas. Key role of corridors in forests.

This has been a very busy period. In the last report we discussed the Hatfield-Adams rider 2 and the process of "releasing" the sales to be cut. The last two months have been spent dealing with the fallout of that process and the new advisory boards. The sales which had their legal protections voided by the congress have been sold. The Elk River3 sale that was contested by our chapter very vigorously was the Father Oak timber sale and this was very substantially modified and is just now going to market.

Three units were totally withdrawn from this proposed sale including two along the Elk River and one at the top of Bald Mountain. Several other units were modified in various ways to meet our objections. This effort was a joint effort of our chapter, ONRC, Headwaters, Friends of the Elk River and The Oregon Rivers Council. Thank you for all your support. There was a lot of active letter writing and phone calls and it paid off. A letter to Ron McCormick, Forest Supervisor in Grants Pass thanking him for his cooperation is certainly in order, also to Cindy Engstrom the District Ranger in Powers who was very helpful.

We also have been trying to get the Grass Knob sale next to the Grassy Knob wilderness canceled and are cautiously optimistic. This sale would log in a 2000 acre unlogged area adjacent to the wilderness and require the building of a mile and a half of new road.

A set of sales in the Elk River watershed is being proposed and has actually been approved by the Siskiyou Forest Advisory board. The strategy to fight the sales that constitute a major incursion into this watershed is a proposal to create a National Conservation area for the entire watershed. This initiative is being led by Friends of the Elk River under Jim Rogers. You should contact him for more information.

The Grapevine Timber sale in the Brookings area is in the final stages of negotiation. This sale would cut some of the last of the Oregon Redwoods. It seems ridiculous that inflexible goals imposed on our local Districts would force them to cut down redwoods for lumber, while fifty miles away the country has spent almost one billion dollars protecting the same redwoods. (The Oregon Redwoods are just the northernmost reach of what people call the "California Redwoods"). Up here they are sometimes mixed in with conifers because it is the end of their range.

In this sale as with many others we seek to alter forest plans to avoid creating man made barriers to the movement and development of species. Man's activities often inhibit and isolate species by creating islands or barriers in the forest; or breaking corridors which animals use to travel around and visit their friends, try to get some privacy, start new families away from their parents, newly colonize areas that may have become viable for the first time in 100,000 years because of global warming etc. etc. If one is in the need of many excellent examples of how to fragment and de-corridorize the forest and in general wage no-prisoner war on other species , then I would recommend that you serve on.....

BLM Advisory Boards. For the last few months I have sat on the Coos Bay advisory board, which completed a review of about 50 timber sales. Frankly I was appalled at the quality of these sales. Probably none of them would have been even considered if the Forest service had been reviewing them. I saw sales approved that were in areas that had as many as 8 Spotted owls in the immediate area, many that were in legally established Spotted Owl preserves and some that fragmented blocks of old growth. Essential corridors that connected patches of forest together were approved for clear cutting. Objections to clear cuts by the Us fish and wildlife service were routinely ignored along with their recommendations for modifications. I think we should say a prayer for the biologists and timber planners that work for the BLM. ONRC is appealing some of these sales and if the appeals fail we will probably go back into court. Actually you will be happy to note that even the Industry members of the board voted against a few of the sales. These were sales where a spotted owl pair's nest was actually in the area to be clear cut, also they seemed to draw a line at sales that disturbed more than eight owls.

It is so manifestly apparent after analyzing hundreds of the so called "harvest" plans that all the forest plans environmental assessments and decision notices and all the unbelievable rigmarole that surrounds the forest products is nothing more than a cover to obscure the fact that the state is being deforested and turned into a tree farm. On the Siskiyou forest Half of the classic old growth outside the Kalmiopsis wilderness has been clear cut in the last 10 years.

We had a visit from a member of the Agriculture Committee in Congress that oversees the Forest service, Congressman Jontz of Indiana. He spent time with us out in the forest and took a special interest in the Grassy Knob sale where he advised the forest service that this was just the kind of sale that the so called "compromise " was designed to prohibit. He also visited a sale that was chosen as one of the sales to be saved by Audubon (see last months conservation report). We had a potluck for all the people who worked on the Father Oak Timber Sale. He is committed, as we are, to getting the out of control clear cutting back to some kind of reasonable level so we will not have the simultaneous events of running out of old growth, throwing thousands of timber workers of their jobs and bankrupting the counties that run on timber receipts. He was first elected to the state legislature at the age of 22, having come to public attention as an environmental activist. He is a very easygoing guy for example while he was here he helped someone jump start their car...in the rain.

We attended a number of meetings to discuss the new legislation that is being considered to stop the logging of old growth in the state. The provision that we are most concerned about is the one that will provide for economic assistance to counties, mills and workers in the transition that will occur if this legislation is passed. The most important of the various bills that are being considered is the Audubon bill that would provide for;

  • - An 18-month ban on logging Ancient forests in Oregon, Washington and Northern California
  • an inventory of ancient forests
  • Establishment of a panel to recommend how to protect buffer strips and corridors.
  • Reducing the sale quantity in Oregon and Washington to about half of what it is now.
  • Protection of Endangered Ecosystem
  • New forest practices so that our forests are not turned into plantations
  • A ban on log exports
  • Comprehensive economic assistance to timber dependent communities

We will be getting more out to you on this and welcome any volunteers that would like to help slow the deforestation of the state. With the growing workload as the Ancient Forest issue becomes a national issue we really need some help. If you can't spend time maybe you could send money. At this point we can actually take people to old growth that would have been clear cut had it not been for the efforts of this Audubon Chapter.

  1. Kalmiopsis Audubon Society - Storm Petrel Newsletter [Another article in this Storm Petrel described how our organization's founder Dave Werschkul was railroaded out of the county legislature and into jail for a hitherto unprosecuted "crime" which returned the county government to Republican control.]
  2. Researcher Note: the odious process of using legislative riders or timber riders to suspend laws and allow federal forest clearcutting despite court orders and federal laws that forbid them, had a variety of names including: Hatfield Riders; Section 318; 318 riders or Sec. 318 sales; or after their implementing processes e.g. Advisory board; Timber Advisory Boards; Forest Service or FS Advisory Board; BLM Advisory Board; or their local names i.e. Siskiyou Forest Advisory Board or Coos Bay BLM Timber Advisory Board. Articles concerning my experience with these boards: forced sales, advisory board abuses, congressional testimony, 1995 Rider, Rider local effects, my congressional testimony about them from April 90
  3. For other articles about Elk River Timber sales see: forced sales, appeal, rider effects, sale status, sales withdrawn, status under rider, status of four sales

#48, (v 1.3) 3/13/11

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