BLM Backyard Forest Watch

These are the special places where many of us go to explore and enjoy nature, and where we get our clean drinking water. These public lands offer a place for wildlife to thrive. As our stewards, public land managers work for us and must take into account how we use these lands today, where we get our water, and how climate change will impact our forests into the future. 

The unique recreational, scenic, and economic values of our public lands in southwest Oregon make them a true treasure. They provide our communities with vital clean water, anxiety-reducing recreation, and awe-inspiring views. They are towering ancient forests, a safe place for fish and wildlife, a reprieve from the daily grind, a chance for modern-day humans to get outside and experience our natural world. Our public lands also are a primary draw for tourism in southern Oregon each year. In Jackson County alone, visitors spent over a half billion dollars in 2014.

The Problem:

In late 2016, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) finalized a new plan for western Oregon's public forests. This plan largely ignored a formal protest from 22 conservation and fishing groups, and will eliminate protections for streamsides, increase clearcutting in wet forests, and remove 2.6 million acres from the science-based 1994 Northwest Forest Plan.

KS Wild is working to ensure that local conservation ethics are reflected in the BLM's plans.

Even with the unravelling of safeguards, some politicians and special interest groups don’t think the BLM’s plan allows enough logging. Before the plan was even released, timber executives announced their intent to sue the BLM to force the clearcutting of vast swaths of our public forests. They are demanding 2 ½ times the amount of timber volume of recent years, which puts forest health at risk. KS Wild is advocating for management that is focused on protecting old-growth forests and streamsides, and focusing thinning projects near homes and communities and in dense second growth forests. 

KS Wild is working through this new decision, and analyzing the impacts. Some of our primary concerns with the BLM's plan include:

  • The plan eliminates the strong water quality and habitat provisions of the Northwest Forest Plan, reducing streamside no-logging buffers by half (a loss of 300,000 acres of streamside reserves). 

  • These reductions threaten wild native fish, water quality, wildlife, and aquatic recreational opportunities.

  • The plan represents the least ambitious carbon sequestration alternative analyzed. 

  • BLM’s plan focuses on more intensive, clearcut-style logging on nearly half a million acres of forests.

  • While additional recreation areas are designated, many of these areas would emphasize logging and motorized use.

  • The new plan would also remove the Applegate Adaptive Management Area, a landmark designation and model for community engagement in place for twenty-two years. 

At a time when drought and climate change pose serious threats to our planet, we need forward-thinking plans that protect our watersheds, focus management on thinning near homes and communities at risk of wildfire.

With the stakes so high, it is imperative that we get this right. We need a regional plan that stores carbon in our forests, makes our open spaces resilient to climate change, and embraces the benefits of these public lands from recreation, tourism, and our quality of life.