Broken Promises, Broken Forests

By Matthew Fisher of Portland, Oregon. Matthew is a wildlands advocate for Oregon Natural Resources Council.

Yesterday, Silver Creek Timber Co. began logging in the South Kalmiopsis roadless area, located in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest in Southern Oregon. The logging is the first logging allowed in a National Forest roadless areas since the Bush administration replaced the popular 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule in 2005.

The logging project, called Mike's Gulch, is one of two controversial logging projects in Oregon roadless lands to be carried out this summer. The other sale, called Blackberry, was auctioned by the US Forest Service last Friday.

The Bush administration new roadless area policy allows for logging, mining, and other development, but top Bush administration officials have publicly pledged to keep roadless lands protected pending individual state management plans. Under the new Bush rule, individual governors have until November to submit their recommendations for the future management of roadless areas.

Governor Kulongoski, who calls roadless areas 'priceless treasures,' is still working on his state roadless plan. By pushing forward with logging of roadless areas in Oregon, the Bush administration is not only breaking a promise, they are demonstrating their disregard for Governor Kulongoski and the integrity of the very process they created.

On a larger scale, the logging in Oregon's roadless wildlands is the start of a systematic rollback on roadless area protections -- presenting a serious threat to much of the nation's last remaining public wild lands. The Bush administration is also proposing roadless area incursions in a handful of other states, including New Hampshire and Minnesota.

In Oregon, it's particularly troubling that the Bush administration is pushing through controversial and costly roadless area logging while thinning projects that would protect communities from wildfire sit unfunded. Clearly, the Bush administration and the political appointees that run the Forest Service need to realign their priorities.

National Forest roadless areas are valued by many because they provide clean drinking water, important fish and wildlife habitat, and ideal places to hike, camp, mountain bike, hunt, fish, and more. In Oregon, a diverse group of hunters, anglers, businesses, conservationists, scientists, and others called the Oregon Wildlands Alliance has banded together to demonstrate why protection for roadless areas and the important services they provide our community is so important. Visit OregonRoadless.org for more information.

Comments

  • jim karlock (unverified)
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    How do handicapped people, who cannot walk very far, use roadless areas if they cannot drive in?

    Thanks JK

  • Tiiiiiiimberrrrrrrrrrrrrr (unverified)
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    I read about this over the weekend. What is wrong with logging in roadless areas when they are using helicopters to do the logging?

    It kind of sounds like right-wingers saying that we can not teach about safe sex to prevent pregnancies. To them the only choice is abstinence only. Do progressives oppose logging period or do they oppose building roads in roadless areas. This argument kind of smells.

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    The Mail Tribune and the local TV stations covered the speakers protesting the start of logging on the Mike's Gultch roadless area timber salvage sale in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest yesterday. Their protest over helicopter logging was described by Tim Ream, a member of the Oxygen Collective as "the beginning of what is going to stop roadless area logging." He went on to say, "the only thing that stops the tyrants, the warlords, is protest." So the 80 some protesters waited over an hour while the police simply stood by. Laurel Sutherlin, a member of the Oxygen Collective was quoted, "The media feeds on sensationalism and would virtually ignore the protest unless there were arrests." The Mail Tribune reported 11 people, several carrying potted evergreens and signs stepped into 8th street, blocking the traffic. Tim Ream of the Oxygen Collective is quoted as saying he'd called the police department in advance, wanting to coordinate some arrests, noting that the patrol commander told Ream the police officers would only take appropriate action if laws were broken. When the protesters blocked access to the Forest sevice building, the police asked the Forest Service if they wanted the people removed. The Forest Service responded that other doors were available and that arrests were unnecessary. When the protesters stepped into the street, 11 of them were arrested on a misdemeanor charge. A police official was quoted, "They didn't need to obstruct traffic, they made their point without having to be arrested."

    Civil disobedience is our right but I can't help wondering if a telephone call, email or a well written letter by each protester to state and federal officials would have been more effective in trying to save biological diversity in roadless areas.

    Managed forest practices do not match my understanding of the behaviors of tyrants and warlords. Letting burned trees rot since 2002 in the area of the Biscuit Fire doesn't make much sense either.The protesters got what they wanted, a photo on the front page of the local section of the Mail Tribune, and 30 seconds on the news channels. Gotta wonder?

  • jrw (unverified)
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    Ha. I see the timber apologists are out in force.

    For Karlock--'tis funny how folks who don't think two cents about disabilities and accessability suddenly do so when roadless areas and wilderness comes up. Entertaining. I'll go for it as a real problem when I hear about it from a disability advocate--not someone who suddenly gets converted as part of a wilderness argument.

    BTW, horses aren't forbidden, and there's a sizable group of folks with disabilities who ride. Check out the equestrian part of the Paralympics for the extremes.

    The problem with logging in roadless areas is that modern logging requires more than just the trucks to haul the trees away. How will the loggers get to the site? How are they going to run the leads if they can't get a spar pole truck in there? How are they getting the logs from where they're cut to the pile? Gotta have a pile for copter logging--or any logging. Gotta stack and sort the cut.

    Unless roadless area logging is done by hand and horses, the trucks are the least of it as far as intrusion is concerned. Roadless area logging is a synonym for blasting in roads and putting the area off limits for wilderness consideration--forever. Rightly or wrongly, the concept is that a Doug fir forest is most effectively clear cut in the industry.

    (Geez! The logging advocates here apparently appear to be unaware of the logging process and how it works! Haven't you ever been out to a site?)

    Additionally, the jury is still out (as in inconclusive) as to whether it's best to cut burned trees for forest recovery. You know, stuff like soil recovery, and wildlife return. Anecdotally, I've observed that wildlife readily return to unlogged fire sites, and a couple of years after a fire, even in arid sites like Northeastern Oregon, the cover is such that it's hard to spot elk.

    It's been long enough that the logs may not be useable, anyway. Fungus rot and all that stuff.

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    Hey jrw. How's helicopter logging different?

  • Matthew Fisher (unverified)
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    Hi Paulie,

    I can answer that for you.

    The issue is not so much about how timber is being carried out of each logging project (e.g. by helicopter or truck). The issue really is what is being done to the roadless area.

    While roadless areas are characterized chiefly as not having roads, they are equally characterized as being pristine, wild, and untouched forestland - and some of the nation's last remaining public wildlands.

    Already, more than half of America's National Forest land is managed for timber, mining, and other development. Understandably, there is growing demand for other forest uses - like recreation, fish and wildlife habitat, and drinking water supplies. The 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule, which Bush overturned in 2005, banned commercial timber harvest from roadless areas, recognizing that roadless areas are valuable resources in the state they're already in: wild, pristine, and unspoiled.

    In Oregon, hundreds of thousands get clean drinking water from streams coming out of National Forest roadless areas. They are also lands revered by hunters, anglers, hikers, campers, wildlife watchers, outdoor businesses, and thankfully, Governor Kulongoski.

    I encourage you to visit www.oregonroadless.org for more information about roadless areas and the important benefits they provide to Oregon communities.

  • Downstate Darryl (unverified)
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    This "writing" really irritates me. Another PORTLAND Democrat that fails to recognize that we downstate/eaststate UNION DEMOCRATS still earn our livings in the natural resource economies. You people that want us to work at Starbucks and Dutch Brothers, rather than our $40-60,000 a year jobs with overtime are just making me sick. Job retraining for a sales job or computer input position just doesn't cut it with three boys to raise. I suspect you needn't ask what my boys said when I prodded them to register Democrat at their respective 18th birthday parties. I'll tell you: They basically said they'd rather ensure a Republican employment check than a Democrats unemployment check. This kind of mindless environmentalism will kill the party.

  • John (unverified)
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    Downstate Darryl,

    Wait - you said you have to raise three boys - then you say they're all over 18 - what's the truth?

    And if you're in the natural resources industry - what the heck are you doing posting comments online at 2pm?!?!?

    I think this is a fake post here.

    Oh, one more thing: I don't recall in the article or in anyone's comments a suggestion that you or anyone else should start working for Starbucks.

  • Hillbilly Hank (unverified)
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    Yea-haw!! Downstate Darryl is right on. Everyone knows that if you live in Portland and care about conservation, you're just an out-of touch urban elitist who doesn't 'get' rural life. Darryl, you make such a knee-slappin' good argument - full of 'downstate' good reason and charm.

    Good luck with all of your other fake posts and say hi to Ron 'I get all my money from big timber' Saxton.

  • Downstate Darryl (unverified)
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    John and Hank, You asses. I had to do two twelve-week "computer arts" retraining in 1994 when we were bumped from from Superior Lumber. It was only by the grace of God that we were able to get on at Roseburg Forest Products summer of 1995. Boys were 6, 11 and 13 at the time. You do realize that people work a lot of four ten-hour days right? Probably not, you elitist, college puppy filth. Get a little sweat on your brow before you deride everyone outside of Portland as hicks and "hillbillies". This isn't Kari's water kooler. This is a frathouse wine cooler. No room for the blue-collars obviously, when this is what you get on your first post. Though i've watched for months. Get a grip, boys. Darryl

  • john (unverified)
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    Seems like the only way you handle criticism is by naming calling. Such virtue. I hope you don't stereotype everyone like the way you stereotype people that live in a city with more than 100,000 people in it.

    I used to have friends that stereotyped Portlanders like that - and they were also racists.

    My family is from rural South Dakota, where the nearest town had 50 people in it. You think you know about rural attitidues and agriculture because you live in or near Roseburg. Please.

    Grow up, makes some intelligent comments, instead of irrational dribble that reeks of insecurity, ignorance, and childlike name-calling.

    John

  • jrw (unverified)
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    Darryl, you've not a clue who you're talking to on this one. Furthermore, was it federal timber or was it mill restructuring going to a more computerized setup that got you bumped from your job? Funny how all those mills recalibrated for size and changed from a lot of human labor to computerized labor, but that never got noted as a cause of even some of the mill shutdowns. Nope. All got blamed on that there spotted owl. Heh. (I knew someone involved in mill redesign who let me know about that little twist to the whole thing).

    Oh yeah, you could thank the Clinton administration for that retraining, y'know.

    Before you start blowing off everyone here, you'd best be aware that not all of us live in Portland, and not all of us grew up in the metro area. Some of us here grew up in Springfield when it was a full-blown timber town, and have families and friends with working histories in the timber industry.

    Don't try to BS someone who's been around the block, dude.

  • Hillbilly Hank (unverified)
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    Darryl,

    I used to work a 12-hour night shift in Salem at a silicon wafer manufacturing plant while I went put myself through community college on my days off and in the morning. Does that make me an elist, too?

    You think after raising three boys and a lifetime of labor, you wouldn't have to resort to name-calling and labeling people who put have an education or live in a big city.

    You seem a little insecure about something and I'm not sure what.

  • Johnny Jumpup (unverified)
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    These promise breakers need a few visits from George and Georgia Haeduc.

  • Johnny Jumpup (unverified)
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    These promise breakers need a few visits from George and Georgia Haeduc.

  • JTT (unverified)
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    It's as if some people have forgotten that there have been 2 devastating forest fires in the past decade...Biscuit and B&B Complex ring any bells? I don't think firefighters have gotten any dumber or somehow lost their skills.

    Forest management is obviously a complex topic, so let's not try to paint it as black and white on either side. I think a lot of people are sick and tired of that. I know I sure am. Timber companies want the cheapest buck and environmental extremists want to save every last tree. Right? I know a lot of good Republicans, Democrats, and Independents who don't care for either.

    I'm sure that there is a way that we can manage our forests for multiple uses (recreation, conservation, and harvest) without shutting them down and conversely without clear-cutting. This protest was obviously a staged political stunt by the radical left...um, civil disobedience doesn't mean standing in the middle of a road when they're lifting trees by helicopter...And it just pisses off moderate, rational people.

    So Portland liberal elite, stop trying to paint southern and eastern folk as dumb-ass environmental savages...and southern and eastern brothers and sisters, let the Portland hippies hug a few trees. Lord knows there's enough of them in this great state for everyone (trees that is...the hippies have been yuppified). Alright Steve M...still think I'm a "disaffected leftist"

  • Clack (unverified)
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    Oregon's tourism and outdoor recreation industries dwarf the economic importance of logging these days. How many tourists come to Oregon to hike through a clear cut? How many of them come to Oregon to go fish in a river that has been smothered by a mudslide? The idea that the only economic value our forests have is as toilet paper and 2x4's is as dumb as the notion that cutting taxes on billionaires will lead to a boom in middle class jobs.

    If you don't want the fancy ideas of the "rban elitists" when it comes to conservation, how about you also turn down our money from tourism and recreation?

    No one is saying lock up all the forests. The 2001 Roadless Rule was about balance -- setting aside the last unspoiled areas that have never had the assistance of chainsaws and bulldozers. The overwhelming majority of Oregonians think that sounds like a pretty good idea.

    Which is the real irony of all this. Like the bug nuts old-growth logging of the 80's, the current antics of the Bush administration and the logging industry are feeding the conservation movement with new members and new $$. When the political pendulum swings back the other direction, the rural communities who are being used to justify the current logging frenzy will be the real losers.

  • JTT (unverified)
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    Clack: how does rural Oregon get income from you taking a hike?

  • spicey (unverified)
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    JTT: Clack: how does rural Oregon get income from you taking a hike?

    Gas, food, lodging, shopping, for starters. (now multiply that...)

  • john (unverified)
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    JTT,

    Do you think before you write, or do you lack the normal brain mechanisms that prevent senseless dribble?

  • john (unverified)
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    The way you can tell that JTT and Darryl aren't true Dems:

    1) They use derogative language and name calling based on stereotypes

    2) They don't provide their email addresses

    I think that 'Darryl' and 'JTT' are probably tied in with Ron "I get all my money from Big Timber" Saxton, who can afford to pay people to constantly submit ridiculous comments on forest protection.

  • JTT (unverified)
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    John: "pot, meet kettle. now stop name calling"

    Clearly you know more about forest management and public policy than I do...so I'll just crawl back to my little cave.

    No, I'm not working (or voting) for Ron. Just trying to understand how environmental extremists tick...

  • john (unverified)
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    JJT,

    I didn't call you names, I critiqued your comments.

    But yet again you're resorting to played-out name-calling (e.g. "extremists")

    Language like "elitists", "extremists" is the hallmark of republican smear tactics, which gives away your true identity.

    Tell, why are you hiding your email address?

  • Jeremiah Baumann (unverified)
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    It's a little weird that so many people are reacting like Matthew proposed shutting down all logging or something. Protecting what we enviro wonks have been calling "roadless forests" -- areas that really amount to the last unprotected wild places in our publicly, collectively owned forests -- is hardly controversial among the mainstream. This issue is MILES away from something that could be called "extreme." The vast majority of Americans think our last remaining areas should be protected.

    And the protestors in Medford were more than justified. Bush has been beyond two-faced on this one -- announcing that he's removing roadless protections but trying to keep a veil of reasonability about himself by ostensibly letting Governors petition to keep the protections in their own states. And then to have the gall to go ahead and log the areas before a Governor has submitted his petition?

  • JTT (unverified)
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    A group that cuts down a green tree in order to sling it across a road to prevent helicopter logging is extreme...and non-sensical. Defend the cause and argue the issue, but please don't try to defend these extremists.

    I "hide" my email to prevent hacks from grabbing it to SPAM...just like the instructions under the URL box in the post a comment section indicate.

  • Clack (unverified)
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    Posted by: JTT Clack: how does rural Oregon get income from you taking a hike?

    I'd suggest taking a drive through a community like Hood River, Sandy, Estacada, Oakridge, Galice, or Joseph and stopping in at a local fishing tackle store, restaurant, or coffee shop and asking them if tourism and recreation has anything to do with the strength of the local economy.

    But hey, maybe we just need a new tourism slogan. "Oregon: We love our stumps!"

    And two major fires in the last few years? We've had fires in Oregon as long as we've had forests. Things got along quite nicely before bulldozers, chainsaws, and hysterical Republican politicians. Focus on areas near communities that management to protect lives and property, but please spare us the "we must clear cut it in order to save it!" ideas.

  • Hillbilly Hank (unverified)
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    <h2>JJT - I hate to say it, but your opinions on this matter or so out of whack with the majority of Americans that YOU'RE the extremist. Take your Big Timber talking points and post them where they belong - www.votesaxton.com/</h2>
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