US Senator Wyden’s Logging Bill Threatens Listed Birds
…and Integrity of the Northwest Forest PlanSenator Ron Wyden (D-OR) has released a legislative proposal to greatly increase logging on over two million acres of federal forests in Oregon by truncating or eliminating environmental reviews and protections for endangered species.
“Logging mature forests that are now protected would come at too a high a price in terms of lost habitat to endangered species such as the Marbled Murrelet, clean drinking water, carbon storage to protect the global atmosphere, and tourism and recreation. These forests are worth far more if allowed to grow,” said Steve Holmer, senior policy advisor with American Bird Conservancy.
Sen. Wyden’s plan ignores a large number of recent scientific studies and government rulemakings indicating additional wildlife habitat conservation is needed in Oregon. By increasing logging over such a large area, it undermines the Northwest Forest Plan, the regional framework protecting the old-growth forest ecosystem and endangered birds such as the Marbled Murrelet and Northern Spotted Owl. The Northwest Forest Plan protects many forests over 80 years old with the goal of allowing these stands to mature into old growth and over time provide additional habitat for listed species. Sen. Wyden’s proposal would eliminate the protection for much of the 80- to 120-year-old forests. This would prevent enough old growth forests from ever maturing and filling in the gaps in the heavily fragmented landscape to create the large blocks of wildlife habitat called for by the Northwest Forest Plan.
The scientific community has strongly weighed in against the intensive logging approach being proposed by Sen. Wyden; first in a letter supporting the Northwest Forest Plan, and then in a second letter opposing legislation to expedite logging of recently burned forests important to wildlife. Another letter from the Pacific Seabird Group raises concern about the impact the proposed increase of logging and the renewed use of clearcutting on federal lands would have on the Marbled Murrelet, a threatened seabird that nests in the top branches of mature and old-growth trees.
Conservation groups have echoed these concerns with letters calling for additional habitat protection for the Marbled Murrelet, and for implementation of Recovery Action 12 which calls for the protection of burned forests to meet the habitat needs of Northern Spotted Owls and their prey.
“Creating timber production areas blows a hole into the Northwest Forest Plan in an area critical to listed Northern Spotted Owls and Murrelets,” said Holmer. “Skirting the Endangered Species Act and shutting out the public from how their public lands are managed is a disappointing step in the wrong direction.”
4th July 2014