Obama Administration Cancels Bush-Era Plan to Clearcut Oregon Forests
People throughout the west celebrated an Obama administration decision to cancel a Bush-era plan that would have nearly quadrupled current logging on public lands in western Oregon. The Bush plan, called the Western Oregon Plan Revision, or WOPR, rezoned 2.6 million acres of federal public forests in Oregon managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The announcement came in response to a lawsuit filed by thirteen conservation and fisheries protection organizations challenging the Bush logging plan. Obama administration officials said the Bush plan illegally ignored requirements to protect endangered species living in the forests and could not be defended in court.
The decision to cancel the massive timber giveaway conforms with numerous scientific studies concluding that dramatic increases in logging would have harmed clean water and healthy streams, pushed wildlife toward extinction, and contributed to global warming. The plan to clearcut 500 million board feet of timber per year would also have destroyed much of Oregon's remaining old-growth forests.
"It's a good day for the wildlife and wild places that make Oregon so special," said Doug Heiken of Oregon Wild. "It's also a good day for all the businesses up and down the Oregon coast that depend on visitors from all over the world who come here to catch a salmon or see what a real Northwest forest is supposed to look like."
"The Obama administration finally listened to what our best scientists have been desperately trying to say about the need to protect our irreplaceable natural resources," said Joseph Vaile of the Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center based in southwest Oregon.
Today's announcement aligns the Obama administration squarely with the wishes of the public which opposed the Bush clearcutting plan by over 90 percent.
"Instead of a sea of stumps, we will now have healthy forests, healthy streams and salmon, and a rebounding economy," said Kristen Boyles, an attorney with Earthjustice. "We're grateful that our citizens' legal challenge could stop this plan until the Obama administration was in place to listen to the people and follow America's environmental laws."
"Today's announcement means many important salmon protections will be preserved in what are the last, best spawning and rearing areas for salmon on public lands," commented Glen Spain, for the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations (PCFFA), one of the co-plaintiffs and a major commercial fishing organization. "This announcement is good news for hard working commercial fishing families struggling to survive on salmon runs nearly ruined by decades of excessive logging."
"The forests and species of northwestern California are connected to the rest of our regional old-growth forests through BLM land in southern Oregon," said Scott Greacen of EPIC. "Today's announcement basically restores the southern half of the Northwest Forest Plan."
"Intact old growth forests with clean healthy streams are an economic engine that really drives Oregon's prosperity, and it is encouraging to see that the Obama Administration recognizes the amazing values our ancient forests provide other than timber extraction," stated Bob Freimark of The Wilderness Society.
Chuck Willer, Executive Director of the Coast Range Association, said, "The Obama administration has just saved the best remaining native forest in the northern third of Oregon's Coast Range region. This is a gift to tomorrow's children for a region in short supply of old growth forest and quality salmon habitat."
"The highest and best use of these forests is for carbon storage, water quality, salmon and wildlife habitat," said Randi Spivak, National Center for Conservation Science and Policy.
"The Obama administration's move today signals a return to scientific management of our public forests and marks an important step towards protecting Oregon's remaining mature and old growth forests from unsustainable logging and roadbuilding," said Ivan Maluski, Conservation Coordinator for the Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club. "These last wild forests protect the climate, produce clean water, and sustain world class salmon runs and recreational opportunities that contribute to Oregon's diverse economy."
"Southwest Oregon has much of the lands that were to be clearcut under the WOPR. We are pleased that level heads have prevailed, and our old growth will be protected," said Shane Jimerfield, Siskiyou Project.
The announcement comes in response to a lawsuit filed by Earthjustice challenging the now discredited Bush logging plan. Earthjustice represents Oregon Wild, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, The Wilderness Society, Cascadia Wildlands Project, Center for Biological Diversity, EPIC, Umpqua Watersheds, American Lands Alliance, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, Institute for Fisheries Resources, Greenpeace, Coast Range Association, and Sierra Club.