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BLM and Conservation Groups Work It Out

Victory: Old growth trees protected as thinning moves forward
February 17, 2011
Medford, OR —

Conservation organizations Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, Oregon Wild, and Cascadia Wildlands announced a sensible forest management deal with the Bureau of Land Management. The deal settles a lawsuit, protects valuable mature and old-growth forests, and permits logging to move forward.

Old growth Douglas Fir in Spencer Creek.
Credit: George Sexton / Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center.

“This is a win-win result based on common sense,” stated George Sexton, Conservation Director for the Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center. “Oregonians want to see old-growth forests protected, and they want to see responsible small diameter thinning.”

The lawsuit, which centered on the Spencer Creek timber sale on the Lakeview District of the BLM near Medford, Oregon, alleged violations due to the proposed logging of mature and old-growth forests. In response, BLM and the conservation groups agreed to focus forest restoration on the thinning of smaller trees that are encroaching into stands of older trees due to previous fire suppression.

“Hopefully, the cancellation of this unpopular old-growth timber sale indicates that BLM is turning a corner and will shift its focus to projects with wide public support, like watershed restoration and thinning young stands,” explained Doug Heiken of Oregon Wild.

Josh Laughlin with Cascadia Wildlands agreed. “This agreement should help shape a blueprint forward for western Oregon BLM forest management. It reminds us that it is entirely possible to generate wood products for society’s needs while avoiding logging of our remaining older forests on public lands.”

The settlement announcement comes on the heels of BLM’s decision to withdraw several other old growth timber sales, along with the agency’s statement that it is planning to engage the public on forest restoration “pilot projects” to experimentally test the principles of ecological restoration in southern Oregon.

“This is a sign of good faith from the BLM,” noted Susan Jane Brown, staff attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center. “The decision to put outdated forestry models behind us represents a shift towards real forest restoration and away from the bad old days of conflict and controversy.”

“Old-growth forests support important wildlife throughout Oregon,” said Earthjustice attorney Kristen Boyles. “This deal strikes a balance that won’t cause more harm to old-growth dependent species, including commercially valuable salmon.”

The parties to the litigation and settlement agreement are Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, Oregon Wild, and Cascadia Wildlands. The groups are represented by Susan Jane Brown, Western Environmental Law Center, and Kristen Boyles, Earthjustice.


George Sexton, KS Wild, (541) 488-5789

Susan Jane Brown, WELC, (503) 914-1323

Kristen Boyles, Earthjustice, (206) 343-7340, ext. 1033

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