BLM Forest Carnage: Take Action!
BLM timber sale, aptly named “Poor Windy,” makes poor decisions regarding public land management
The BLM has put the cart before the horse. The BLM should have looked at the types of forests they are proposing for logging, accepted comments from the public about the proposed logging plans, analyzed the impacts of their actions in a meaningful way that includes our changing climate and fire seasons. Instead, the BLM has announced an arbitrary political timber grab for this particular project and then designed proposed actions to meet its timber agenda such that agency analysis and public comment are rendered meaningless. The “analysis” is conducted to support a pre-ordained outcome instead of informing BLM actions and decision making.
Additionally, the agency’s proposal to conduct regeneration logging, (logging that removes native forests and replants them to grow as a timber plantation) increases fire hazard for decades. The BLM should consider management alternatives that decrease (rather than increase) fire hazard on public lands.
Background of the Watersheds Impacted by the Poor Windy Timber Proposal
The immense Poor Windy Timber Sale crosses 5 different watersheds. A watershed is a land area that channels all the rainfall and snowmelt into creeks, streams, rivers, and eventually to outlets that reach our oceans.
These watersheds are already suffering from the negative environmental impacts and consequences of industrial timber logging because of the checkerboard land ownership management jurisdiction across southern Oregon and northern California.
BLM staff have done watershed assessment and analysis for each of these watersheds in the past. However, under the new land management plan for public lands under the BLM’s control, this administration is instructing the agency to ignore their own previous analysis of how to improve of these exact watershed conditions.
A Few Quotes from the BLM’s previous Watershed Analysis on Impacted Watersheds within the Poor Windy Project Area:
Manage BLM public lands in the Riparian Reserve category to reach their shade potential. Jumpoff Joe Creek is listed under the Clean Water Act as impaired because of the water temperatures aren’t sufficient for salmon production. Additionally, 9 creeks within the Graves Creek watershed are Clean Water Act listed for temperature.
Manage BLM administered riparian lands to reach their shade potential
Roads are the primary source of dumping soil to streams in this watershed. There are 811 miles of existing roads in this watershed.
In this watershed, of the 154 miles of fish streams, 143 miles (93 percent) are within 330 feet of a road; 120 miles (78 percent) are within 165 feet of a road. In other words, virtually all the fish streams in the watershed have a road in close proximity, which will provide a continuous source of soil into the water in most cases.
Fish habitat quality is in fair to poor condition throughout the watershed, with a stable or declining trend.
It is believed that degraded conditions on all Cow Creek tributaries are limiting salmon production, as well as limiting habitat suitability for other native aquatic species.
An aggressive effort should be made to reduce open road densities in the watershed through decommissioning, barricading and gating.
Sedimentation is also known to be a major problem for streams in this watershed. Roads are a chronic sediment source to streams in this watershed. There are 808 miles of roads in the watershed, representing approximately 4,848 acres in roads. Id. at 11.
In another impacted watershed, there are 252 miles of streams which have a road within 166 feet, (23 percent of all streams) the approximate height of one site-potential tree. The situation is more dramatic with regard to fish streams. Approximately 91 miles out of the 122 miles of fish streams (75 percent) have a road within the Riparian Reserve (i.e. within 335 feet of a road). These roads have a high potential for providing soils directly into the streams, as well as disrupting riparian habitat and connectivity along streams.
Existing culverts (water passage systems through roads) should be improved, where necessary, to provide free passage of aquatic species both up and down stream.
Reintroducing beavers where conflicts with other uses would be minimal should be considered.
Prescribed fire to reduce fire hazard and risk should be used to help preserve the existing timber commodity and non-timber resources, and to help the interaction with rural interface issues.
Poor Windy by the Numbers
BLM cherry picks their statements when describing the status of existing watersheds and fails to incorporate their own previous analysis into site-specific planning for logging the Riparian and Old-Growth Reserves . The BLM states that “no streams in the Poor Windy project area or downstream are currently listed on the Clean Water Act list for impaired waters due to exceeding water quality standards for nutrients.” (EA pg. 135). While this appears to be an accurate statement, the BLM fails to include that streams in the project area and downstream are Clean Water Act listed for other criteria, such as temperature, dissolved oxygen, and sediment.
For instance, the BLM proposes to haul timber harvested across Wood Creek, a Clean Water Act stream listed for dissolved oxygen and temperature (ODEQ 2012.), three times though fails to note the stream’s listed status at any point in its analysis. (EA pg. 109).
In addition, the streams within the project area are tributaries of both the Rogue River, a Clean Water Act listed stream for dissolved oxygen, temperature, and sediment and the South Umpqua River, a Clean Water Act listed stream for dissolved oxygen, temperature, sedimentation, habitat modification, and biological criteria. Yet BLM’s analysis focuses solely on nutrients without looking at the full picture of watershed health.
13,288 acres to be logged are located in forests reserved from logging. The BLM breaks up public lands into different categories or “land use allocations”. The reserve system category contains two sub categories or land use allocations: Late Successional Reserves, also known as old growth forest, and Riparian Reserves, also known as habitat encompassing water.
BLM in it’s analysis failed to disclose a total numerical figure of acres within these Reserve categories serve as critical habitat for federally listed Endangered Species Act critters.
5,410 acres within the Late Successional Reserve subcategory are proposed for treatments that will remove federally designated Critical Habitat for at-risk species and the prey they depend on for survival.
BLM does not disclose the amount of Critical Habitat for federally listed Endangered Species Act wildlife that will be altered in the Riparian Reserve categories. This is important because there are Coho Salmon present and their habitat that will be negatively affected by this large scale proposed logging and timber hauling project.
61 known Northern Spotted Owls activity forests could be negatively impacted by this proposed logging. BLM has failed to complete surveys for all of the federally threatened owls present in the project area.
30.5 new miles of roads are to be built in this road-heavy project area.
321 miles of timber haul is proposed adjacent to Clean Water Act federally listed streams with haul allowed during the wet season.
What you can do:
Please join with us and take action to defend the wildlife, watersheds, and communities that rely on these public lands!