PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) - In another last-minute attack on the environment, the Department of the Interior and Bureau of Land Management changed the rules on managing 2.5 million acres of forests in western Oregon, drastically increasing logging, eliminating conservation measures, decreasing riparian buffers and allowing 1,300 miles of new roads, the Pacific Rivers Council claims in Federal Court.
The BLM adopted six new rules on Dec. 30, 2008. The changes will affect "BLM's Salem, Eugene, Roseburg, Medford, and Coos Bay Districts, and the Klamath Falls Resource Area of the Lakeview District.
"The RODs (Records of Decision) eliminate the Northwest Forest Plan's Aquatic Conservation Strategy, decrease the width of riparian buffers, and change the standards, guidelines, and directives for management within riparian buffers," the Pacific Rivers complaint states.
"Roughly 1,300 miles of new roads will be constructed under the RODs, compared to roughly 800 miles for the no action alternative. The RODs will increase road construction more than any of the three DEIS (Draft Environmental Impact Statement) action alternatives. More than 14,000 miles of roads already occur on lands managed by the BLM in the planning area.
"Within the WOPR (Western Oregon Plan Revision) planning area, there are eight anadromous fish population segments that are listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. These include Lower Columbia River Chinook, Lower Columbia River Coho, Lower Columbia River Steelhead, Columbia River Chum, Upper Willamette River Steelhead, Southern Oregon/Northern California Coho, and Oregon Coast Coho.
"Within the WOPR planning area, there are four resident fish populations that are listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. These include Columbia River and Klamath River bull trout, Lost River sucker, Shortnose sucker, and Oregon chub.
"The WOPR planning provides habitat for many amphibians including species designated as sensitive species by the BLM such as Oregon Spotted Frog, Foothill Yellow-legged Frog, Siskiyou Mountains Salamander, Cope's Giant Salamander, and Oregon Slender Salamander."
Plaintiffs claim the Bush administration's last-minute regulatory changes violated a host of environmental laws. They are represented by David Bahr with the Western Environmental Law Center of Eugene.
The Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics filed a FOIA complaint in the same court, demanding documents on the Western Oregon Plan Revision.
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