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Thursday, May 23, 2024 | Back issues
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Environmentalists Fight for Pacific Forests

PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) - Environmental and fishing groups say federal revisions of western Oregon forest plans will harm species, watersheds and forests. The region includes rainforest between the Pacific Coast and Cascade Range, and drier forests on the east side of the Cascades.

The Pacific Rivers Council, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations and six other groups want to stop reinstatement of forest plan changes that the Bureau of Land Management adopted in 2008.

Facing several lawsuits, the BLM withdrew its revisions of forest plans for six western Oregon districts in 2009. In March this year, the District of Columbia Federal Court responded to a timber industry lawsuit by vacating and remanding the government's decision to withdraw the changes.

Now the environmentalists want to stop implementation of the plan revisions, saying they eliminate key watershed protections and open old-growth forests to clear-cutting.

The plan revisions also violate a requirement that the BLM consult other agencies about threatened and endangered species in the region, which include salmon, steelhead, the northern spotted owl and marbled murrelet, the environmentalists say.

Imperiled fish species such as salmon need cold, clear water to survive, which the environmentalists say was not adequately considered in a 2008 environmental impact statement on which the plan revisions were based.

The threatened northern spotted owl needs multistoried forests, including old growth, upon which the marbled murrelet, a threatened diving seabird, also depends.

Alternatives in the analysis would allow logging in owl reserves, and fail to address ongoing murrelet decline, the groups say.

In addition, the environmental analysis lacked proper discussion of climate change and the carbon storage function of forests, and failed to assess all impacts of increased off-roading, the groups say.

The plan revisions reflect poor science and irrational decision-making, the environmentalists say, and adopting them would violate environmental law.

The groups, represented by the Western Environmental Law Center, want the plan revisions enjoined and more protective resource management plans reinstated, as developed under the Northwest Forest Plan.

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