Southwestern Oregon Residents Oppose Massive Pickett West Timber Sale

Southwestern Oregon Residents Oppose Massive Pickett West Timber Sale.  

Cutting Old-Growth Forests Doubles Community Fire Risk

Who: A coalition of Illinois, Applegate and Rogue Valley residents oppose the Pickett West Project and Pickett Hog Timber Sale.

What: Protest of the Pickett Hog Timber Sale Auction. This is the first BLM timber sale in the massive Pickett West Project.

When: Thursday, September 14, 8:00 am to 10:00 am

Where: Grants Pass Interagency (BLM) Office, 2164 N.E. Spalding Avenue

Why: Because logging fire-resistant, old forest adjacent to our communities will increase fire risks and degrade important forest habitat.

Grants Pass, Or—A coalition of residents from the Illinois, Applegate and Rogue Valleys will gather to protest the BLM timber auction for the 318-acre Pickett Hog Timber Sale, above the Wild and Scenic Rogue River. The Pickett Hog Timber Sale is the first to be auctioned from the controversial Pickett West Project. Other timber sales are being developed from the Pickett West Project in the Applegate Valley and in the mountains above Selma, Oregon.

The Pickett West Project proposes to log thousands of acres of fire-resistant, old-growth forest adjacent to our homes and communities. The logging will drastically increase fuel loads by reducing overstory canopy and encouraging dense understory growth. As fires burn throughout the region, area residents believe maintaining our last fire-resistant, old-growth forest is increasingly critical.

“The Pickett West Timber Sale targets old-growth forest throughout southern Oregon for heavy industrial logging. Nearly half of the units in the timber sale are old- growth stands between 150 and 240 years old. These old, highly fire resistant forests are increasingly rare, especially near communities. These forests buffer our communities from the effects of uncharacteristic wildfire, protect our viewsheds, clean water, wildlife habitat and, while providing important recreational opportunities,” said Luke Ruediger, Program Coordinator for Applegate Neighborhood Network.

Many residents feel the BLM did not meaningfully incorporate public input during the planning process or implement the collaborative mandates of the Applegate Adaptive Management Area. In fact, the BLM was out marking old-growth trees during the Public Comment period rather than collaborating with local communities. Selma and Illinois Valley residents and the Deer Creek Association proposed a Natural Selection Alternative to the Pickett West Timber Sale, but BLM refused to consider the option.

“It’s time that we start thinking outside the box of conventional industrial forestry models and implement innovative approaches to meeting the needs of current and future generations of Americans. My home is surrounded by Pickett West units of healthy old growth that provide beauty, clean water, and quality of life for my family. I want my daughter and future grandkids to enjoy these precious places,” said Serena Barry, Vice President of the Deer Creek Association and lifelong resident of the Illinois Valley.

"Scientists and even other BLM offices agree that old and mature forests are the most resilient to fire. Younger, uniform forests are twice as likely to burn as older forests,” said Tim Ream, program director with KS Wild. “It is unbelievable, that the BLM Medford District is ignoring what scientists are telling them and increasing future fire risk near communities by auctioning off hundreds of acres of old-growth on our public land for heavy-handed logging."

Today’s protest is expected to draw local residents from communities potentially affected by the Pickett West Timber Sale. Signs and banners will create colorful visuals. Photographs and video available upon request.