Oregon State walks away from Elliott Forest plan, but backers say forest in good hands
OPB Nov. 16, 2023
OSU President Jayathi Murthy announced she won’t recommend the university’s participation in the research forest. The governor and longtime stakeholders said they were disappointed, but the plan to study the forest is in good shape.
Oregon State University is stepping back from a years-long effort to turn the Elliott State Forest into the country’s largest research forest, but state leaders and longtime advocates say they aren’t concerned about the long-term designs to rehabilitate the forest.
The announcement marks another twist in a lengthy story involving the 82,000-acre Elliott State Forest. For more than four years, OSU has worked with the Oregon Department of State Lands on a proposal that would make the Elliott a “world-renowned” research forest to help better understand how climate change is impacting forests, contributing to sustainable forest products while also allowing public access and timber harvesting.
Forest conservation ‘off-track’ to halt deforestation by 2030: New report
By John Cannon
Mongabay – October 24, 2023
The world lost 6.6 million hectares (16.3 million acres) of forest, an area larger than Sri Lanka, and deforestation rates increased by 4% in 2022, according to a report published Oct. 24 that tracks commitments to forest conservation.
The Forest Declaration Assessment is an annual evaluation of deforestation rates against a 2018-2020 deforestation and forest degradation baseline compiled by civil society and research organizations.
Much of the forest loss occurred in the tropics, and nearly two-thirds of it was in relatively undisturbed primary forests, while forest degradation, more than deforestation, remains a serious problem in temperate and boreal forests.
Despite being far off the pace to achieve an end to deforestation by 2030, a goal that 145 countries pledged to pursue in 2021, more than 50 countries have cut their deforestation rates and are on track to end deforestation within their borders by the end of the century.
A new report reveals that deforestation increased by 4% worldwide in 2022, dimming the prospects of ending forest loss by 2030.
The spike indicates rates are trending “in the wrong direction,” Erin Matson, a lead author of the Forest Declaration Assessment, said during an Oct. 19 press call.
“The question that comes to mind is why?” said Matson, who is a senior consultant at the Netherlands-based advisory company Climate Focus. “The answer becomes obvious when you look at what we invest in. We are investing in activities that are harmful for forests at far higher rates than we are investing in activities that are beneficial for forest.” Clearance for food and feed crops like soybeans, as well as for pastureland for cattle, drives most tropical deforestation…
Link to 2023 Forest Declaration Assessment: https://www.forestdeclaration.org/resources/forest-declaration-assessment-2023
Dozens of climate groups prepare to protest international timber conference in Portland
The planned action – and a counter conference – mark a first for the industry conference
BY: Alex Baumhardt
Oregon Capital Chronicle – September 26, 2023
An annual conference of international timber industry leaders will focus this week in Portland on the ownership and development of Northwest forests while protestors gather and hold their own conference on preserving them.
The industry conference, on Wednesday and Thursday, will feature panels on investments in private forests, with participants discussing everything from investments by international banks, timber companies and trusts to the future of private forest ownership and global markets for Northwest timber and wood products. It’s hosted by the 50-year-old nonprofit World Forestry Center in southwest Portland.
The conference has been held every year for more than two decades but this year, for the first time, it will face protests by more than two dozen environmental groups who oppose the corporate ownership and management of Oregon forests and what they say is the industry’s disproportionate contribution to global climate change. Environmentalists have planned a demonstration outside the World Forestry Center at noon on Wednesday, organized by the Pacific Northwest Forest Climate Alliance, which includes dozens of regional nonprofits such as Oregon Wild in Portland, Eugene-based Cascadia Wildlands and the Oregon chapter of the Sierra Club.
Alex Budd, an organizer for the alliance, said he’s expecting up to 200 people at the protest.
“Our forests can be a vital solution to the climate crisis right now,” Budd said. “We have a choice between how our forests are going to be managed, and whether they’re going to be managed to generate more shareholder profit for these Wall Street companies, or for the health and well being of our communities and the planet.”
Judge rules Forest Service violated the law in rolling back forest protections
A federal judge in Oregon makes a sweeping recommendation to protect old growth on six national forests in Eastern Oregon and Washington
WildEarth Guardians - August 31, 2023
Today, a federal judge made a sweeping recommendation to set aside an illegal Forest Service rule change made under the Trump administration. Conservation groups, with support from the Nez Perce Tribe, challenged a change to the Eastside Screens, a longstanding set of rules to protect old growth on six national forests in Eastern Oregon and Washington.
The Screens protected trees over 21” in diameter on over 7 million acres of public lands. These represent the largest 3% of trees in the region. Just days before President Biden took office, a political appointee of the Trump administration illegally changed the rule and allowed those trees to be logged. The Forest Service was joined by the timber industry in defending the change.
A U.S. Magistrate Judge in Pendleton, Oregon, found that the Forest Service should be required to prepare a full environmental impact statement: “The highly uncertain effects of this project, when considered in light of its massive scope and setting, raise substantial questions about whether this project will have a significant effect” on the environment, including endangered aquatic species…
How Do We Speak for the Trees When Our Human Right to Free Speech is Cut Down?
BY Tish O'Dell
Community Environmental Defense Fund - July 10, 2023
“Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech… or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
This First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is well understood to be the most significant legal right in any so-called free society. Without the freedom of the people and the press to exchange ideas and expose corruption, the idea and practice of democracy goes the way of the Truffula tree.
We are living in a time when we the people are witnessing more and more of our protected constitutional human rights eroded or taken away at an alarming rate, while also witnessing the expansion of “corporate rights”. As a passionate environmental activist and organizer, working for the recognition of the Rights of Nature, there is some irony and also more than a few “ah-ha” moments over the past decade while studying past history and living current history at the same time.
I grew up believing in the First Amendment and the values expressed in it. Throughout the decades, I thought my limited activism and my rights were genuinely protected by this critical amendment.
I protested and marched in Washington DC for the passage of the Women’s Equal Rights Amendment, I was challenged by local government when I placed a single political election sign in my yard (so instead I got a whole bunch of them and taped them to my garage door and all across the front of my house because that was “my property”) and when my son and his friend were almost hit by a car while riding their bikes, I petitioned for sidewalks on our street, which I lost, but I believed because I was “allowed” to collect my neighbors’ signatures and present them to city council, that somehow I was freely exercising my First Amendment rights…
Forest Service gets forest policy wrong
By George Wuerthner
The Bulletin – July 6, 2023
The Deschutes National Forest wildfire policies are misdirected towards logging while ignoring the real threats that could lead to blazes on Bend’s doorstep.
Anyone driving around the national forest near Bend will note the abundance of homeless camps, RVs, campers, and people scattered along forest roads. Each one of these individuals is a potential source of ignition.
Instead of dealing with the often-illegal camping and increased likelihood of a human ignition, the Forest Service spends its funds logging the forest in a delusional effort to reduce wildfire.
Human-started wildfires accounted for 84% of all wildfires between 1988-2012, tripled the length of the fire season, dominated an area seven times greater than that affected by lightning fires, and were responsible for nearly half of all areas burned. More recent studies put the figure of human-caused wildfires even higher…
Clearcuts and the forest industry downturn
Global News Hour at 6 BC
Posted June 29, 2023 05:55pm
In part two of his series, Paul Johnson tours a huge clearcut near Prince George, and hears from an area MLA who is calling for the forest industry to pivot away from the practice amid worries the province is 'logged out'.
Montana cannot be trusted with grizzly bear & wolf management
by Lara Birkes
Mongabay - May 1, 2023
The U.S. State of Montana’s legislature has recently proposed a litany of extreme anti-wildlife bills despite widespread and diverse opposition.
Grizzly bears are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act, but Montana lawmakers and Gov. Greg Gianforte are pushing measures that would issue grizzly bear kill permits to ranchers using public lands, for example.
The state has also opened up unlimited wolf hunting along Yellowstone National Park’s border, despite the fact that those wolves spend 96% of their time in the park.
This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily of Mongabay.
Whether you live in Big Sky country, have enjoyed its natural wonders as a tourist, or marveled at the iconic imagery of Yellowstone National Park’s bears and wolves from afar – what’s happening to wildlife in the American West should concern you.
Montana’s state legislature has proposed a litany of extreme anti-wildlife bills despite widespread, diverse, and credible opposition. The onslaught began in 2021 and continues in this legislative session with the introduction of bills that go from bad to worse.
Last session those included snaring, night shooting and baiting wolves, and approving bounties to encourage more killing. It targeted black bears too, allowing the use of hounds after Montana had banned that for a century. And it opened up unlimited wolf take along Yellowstone’s border, despite the fact that those wolves spend 96% of their time in the Park and provide incredible research data that helps us manage them everywhere…
Scientific basis for protection of mature and old-growth forests
Woodwell Climate Center – April 10, 2023
Larger trees and old-growth forests accumulate massive amounts of carbon. For example, of the 561 million metric tons of carbon in a sampling of 11 national forests, 73% of the carbon is found in larger trees.
In April 2022, the Biden administration announced an Executive Order to inventory mature and old-growth forests and to develop policies for conservation purposes. As a result, Woodwell Climate Research Center developed a research project to answer long-standing questions on the definition of forest maturity and its implications for protecting carbon stocks.
The results from this project were recently published and they found that the minimum age at which forests may be considered mature, based on peak carbon capture, ranged from 35 to 75 years among the regions and forest types studied. They also found that the amount of carbon in unprotected larger trees in mature stands of the 11 forests studied, representing only 6% of federal forest land, is equivalent to one-quarter of annual emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels in the U.S.
From this research, we recommend that the Biden administration offer more protection for old-growth and mature forests as a tool for climate mitigation, such as an age-based logging limit, diameter cutoff for logging, or roadless protections, as recently implemented in the Tongass National Forest…
Standing Up for Freshwater Biodiversity
We rely on freshwater plants and animals for clean water, food, recreation and other needs. And yet they’re often overlooked in conservation.
by Tara Lohan
The Revelator – March 29, 2023
Nearly two dozen experts from around the world have issued a call to action to protect freshwater biodiversity.
“It’s our collective opinion that freshwater biodiversity is really important, but it’s often forgotten,” says Steven J. Cooke, a professor of biology at Carleton University and a coauthor of the paper published in the journal WIREs Water.
Globally at least one-third of freshwater species are threatened with extinction, and they’re disappearing twice as fast as species in the ocean or on land. Habitat loss and degradation, pollution, river fragmentation, invasive species, climate change, mining, microplastics and pharmaceuticals are just some of the threats driving these losses.
And they’re taking a big toll. Freshwater vertebrates declined 84% from 1970 to 2016. And invertebrates and aquatic plants are perpetually forgotten in discussions about biodiversity, says Cooke. “There are many organisms that get relatively little attention…”
Groups Urge Trudeau and Biden to Transparently Report Logging Emissions
Nature Canada – March 22, 2023
Unceded Algonquin Territory, Ottawa, ON – March 22, 2023 – Over 80 civil society organizations and scientists from across the United States and Canada today called on President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to address a forest-sized hole in their countries’ climate plans at their upcoming summit.
In a joint letter to the leaders, the signatories assert that the failure to separately and transparently report greenhouse gas emissions from industrial logging jeopardizes the achievement of the two countries’ 2030 climate goals.
“Transparent and accurate reporting of emissions from all sectors is key to effective climate action,” said Michael Polanyi, Policy and Campaign Manager at Nature Canada. “Canada and the US won’t meet their 2030 emission reduction targets unless they clearly recognize – and address – the climate impacts associated with industrial logging.”
A recent study by Nature Canada and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) based on government data found that emissions from logging and wood use in Canada were at least 75 Megatonnes in 2020, roughly equal to emissions from oil sands operations.
Canada and the United States subsume logging emissions under the broader category of land use, land-use change, and forestry (LULUCF), making it exceedingly difficult to discern what carbon fluxes are attributable to the logging industry. While this practice complies with international guidelines, there is nothing preventing Canada and the US from clearly and separately reporting logging emissions in their emissions reduction plans, as they do for other sectors. In the latest IPCC report, scientists stress the need for comprehensive mitigation measures to avoid catastrophic climate change…
Forest Edges Important for Pollinators
Technology Networks Applied Sciences February 24, 2023
A new study has found open, light-filled forest edges support more flowers and pollinators than the dark interior of second-growth forests and the value of these areas should not be overlooked.
The study, Forest edges increase pollinator network robustness to extinction with declining area, by researchers at The University of Western Australia, Zhejiang University in China and CSIRO – Australia’s national science agency, was published in Nature Ecology & Evolution.
Researchers found the interior of dense secondary forests harboured a low diversity of flowering native plants and insect pollinator species – in stark contrast to the complex patchiness of gaps and clearings found in natural forests, where higher light levels stimulated abundant floral resources that supported diverse plant-pollinator networks…
How old is mature? New definitions could inform federal forest policy
Not all forests are equal in carbon sequestered, mature forests are pulling more weight
Update by Dominick DellaSala & Richard A. Birdsey
Woodwell Climate Research Center - January 17, 2023
A new study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Forests and Global Change, presents the nation’s first assessment of carbon stored in larger trees and mature forests on 11 national forests from the West Coast states to the Appalachian Mountains. This study is a companion to prior work to define, inventory and assess the nation’s older forests published in a special feature on “natural forests for a safe climate” in the same journal. Both studies are in response to President Biden’s Executive Order to inventory mature and old-growth forests for conservation purposes and the global concern about the unprecedented decline of older trees.
Scientists have long demonstrated the importance of larger trees and older forests, but when a tree is considered large or a forest mature has not been clearly defined and is relative to many factors. This study develops an approach to resolve this issue by connecting forest stand age and tree size using information in existing databases. This paper also defines maturity by reference to age of peak carbon capture for forest types in different ecosystems. But the approach is readily applicable across forest types and can be used with other definitions of stand maturity…
Campaign Urges Agencies to Keep Big Trees Standing
Key forests are identified that are crucial to honoring old-growth executive order
By Juliet Grable
Sierra Club - February 6, 2023
When Chandra LeGue first toured the Flat Country project, a logging and forest management project planned for the Willamette National Forest in Oregon, US Forest Service reps showed her a stream they planned to restore and a “plantation”—a deliberately planted, uniform stand of trees—that they planned to thin.
LeGue, who serves as senior conservation advocate for Oregon Wild, wandered away from the group and crossed a road into an older forest, where she found towering centuries-old Douglas firs, downed mossy logs, and a rich understory of conifer, shrubs, and ferns.
“When I asked what was planned for this forest, they told me something along the lines of regeneration harvest, or heavy thinning,” LeGue told Sierra, adding that these types of treatments are typically done to increase diversity for wildlife or for forest health. “But it was evident to me that this forest was already healthy and diverse,” she said.
First proposed in 2018, Flat Country included plans to harvest timber in about 2,000 acres of forests that are at least 80 years old. Some of these trees lie within the headwaters of the McKenzie River, which supplies drinking water to the cities of Springfield and Eugene…
Study identifies priority forests in Oregon for max conservation benefit
By Liz Kimbrough
Mongabay - January 24, 2023
…The haunting deep-green forests of Oregon are more than a backdrop for angsty teen vampires in the Twilight series. These coastal temperate rainforests on the west coast of the United States are some of the most important carbon storage facilities in the world and, at a local scale, shelter 80% of the drinking water for the state’s residents.
A recent study published in Frontiers in Forests and Global Change is the first to determine which forests are the highest priority for conservation by analyzing data on drinking water sources, biodiversity, carbon storage and forest resilience.
“Here’s a map that shows you where’s the biggest bang for your buck and what we need to protect first,” Beverly E. Law, the study’s lead author and professor emeritus of global change biology and terrestrial systems science in the College of Forestry at Oregon State University, told Mongabay. “We’ve laid out what needs to be done, where we need to start, and where we need to look first.”
Most (67%) of the high-priority forests, researchers found, are on federal lands. Some of these areas include forestlands around the Devil’s Staircase Wilderness and Elliot State Forest in the Coast Range; Eagle Cap Wilderness in the Blue Mountains; Kalmiopsis Wilderness in the Klamath Mountains; and Crater Lake National Park in the Cascade Mountains…
EWEB Officials Support Decommissioning of Leaburg Hydropower Project, Dam Removal
By Megan Banta
Register-Guard – January 10. 2023
Eugene Water and Electric Board staff are putting together an action plan for decommissioning the Leaburg hydropower project after utility officials endorsed the plan.
The utility's board of commissioners on Tuesday unanimously approved documents directing staff to develop an action plan for decommissioning the 100-year-old hydropower project, with the future option of fully shutting down the project and its canal along the McKenzie River.
The canal hasn’t generated power since 2018 because of concerns about structural deficiencies, and EWEB can’t leave it as is due to federal requirements.
Frank Lawson, who heads EWEB as general manager, told officials that staff will deliver the plan setting out milestones by the end of the year. He stressed the vote doesn't mean things are set in stone and if there's new information the utility has "the humility to take a step back and look at this in a new light…"
Let forests grow old to store huge volume of carbon – study
Report says cutting emissions should still be key priority as it cautions against mass monoculture tree-planting
By Patrick Greenfield
The Guardian - November 13, 2023
Forest conservation and restoration could make a major contribution to tackling the climate crisis as long as greenhouse gas emissions are slashed, according to a study.
By allowing existing trees to grow old in healthy ecosystems and restoring degraded areas, scientists say 226 gigatonnes of carbon could be sequestered, equivalent to nearly 50 years of US emissions for 2022. But they caution that mass monoculture tree-planting and offsetting will not help forests realise their potential.
Humans have cleared about half of Earth’s forests and continue to destroy places such as the Amazon rainforest and the Congo basin that play crucial roles in regulating the planet’s atmosphere...
Six young people bring lawsuit, claiming human rights violations due to climate change
By A.L. Lee,
Sept. 27 (UPI) -- Six young people are set to appear in a French court Wednesday to bring a lawsuit against 32 European nations, claiming the governments were violating their human rights by failing to mitigate climate change.
The plaintiffs, all Portuguese citizens who range in age from 11 to 24, filed the lawsuit in light of deadly wildfires that have devastated their country every year since 2017.
The landmark case before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg could require all 27 European Union member states, as well as Britain, Switzerland, Norway, Russia and Turkey, to immediately start reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The court was expected to issue a ruling within months, with the decision being legally binding if it is proven that countries aren't doing enough to curtail global warming to a target goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius over the next decade as set by the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.
Amnesty International filed the legal action alongside several other humanitarian organizations, asserting that policymakers had a duty to protect human rights through more robust climate efforts.
The plaintiffs are all Portuguese citizens, and range in age from 11 to 24, according to a statement from the group. They filed the lawsuit in light of deadly wildfires that have devastated the country every year since 2017.
The (Other) Georgia RICO Case That Could Threaten the Right to Protest Nationwide
The state is cracking down on anyone remotely associated with the movement to stop the construction of a controversial police training facility in Atlanta
September 6, 2023
On Tuesday morning, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr announced that a state grand jury had indicted 61 people allegedly connected to the Defend the Atlanta Forest movement, slapping a serious and shocking slate of RICO charges onto a decentralized movement that has sought to derail the construction of a massive police training facility for nearly two years. Activists and civil rights groups worry the indictment could set a dangerous, anti-democratic precedent for cracking down on similar protest movements nationwide.
The racketeering charges come amid an escalating, monthslong campaign to squash the protest movement opposing Atlanta’s “Cop City” through a combination of brute force and drastic charges. Protesters active in the forest and around the Atlanta area have been charged with domestic terrorism, while more specific financial charges have been leveled against nonprofit workers connected to the movement. Many of those targeted in the past are also named in the RICO indictment, which has rocked the loose network of activists that have driven the DAF movement, sending members scrambling to find out if their names had appeared on the list.
Why a conservation plan means more timber
By Chuck Willer
The Astorian - Jul 20, 2023
The habitat conservation plan for the state forest within Clatsop County has come under coordinated attack from the timber industry and their supportive politicians.
Critics say the plan will harm local government and local jobs. But, if you look at the timber harvest numbers included in the plan, you’ll see the opposite is true: the industry and taxpayers will benefit from the plan over the long term. Which makes the whole story they’ve been telling just plain wrong.
Let’s dig in.
Over the past several years, the Oregon Department of Forestry has been working with federal fish and wildlife agencies to draft a habitat conservation plan for 630,000 acres of state forestland in western Oregon. Just over 500,000 acres of that land is on the North Coast. Some of the last, best wild salmon and steelhead runs on the North Coast originate on state forestlands. State forest streams and rivers provide drinking water to 500,000 people near the forest. And state forestlands are a huge recreation hub for hunting, fishing, hiking, off-roading and other activities. And a big portion of timber revenues from Clatsop State Forest are shared with the county and dozens of local taxing districts…
Over half a million people call on Forest Service to protect mature, old-growth forests and trees
Public comment period concludes for pathway to rulemaking on how Forest Service manages national forests
July 20, 2023
Washington D.C.– More than 500,000 people are calling on the U.S. Forest Service to protect mature and old-growth trees and forests from logging on federal land as a cornerstone of U.S. climate policy.
In April the Forest Service issued a rulemaking proposal to improve the climate resilience of federally managed forests. The public comment period on the proposal closed today.
In addition to the hundreds of thousands of people who weighed in, dozens of environmental and grassroots organizations submitted comments, including the Climate Forests Campaign, a coalition of more than 120 organizations working to protect mature and old-growth trees and forests on federal land from logging.
Activists and environmental advocates gathered today at the D.C. offices of the Department of Agriculture, which oversees the Forest Service, to celebrate the amount of public support.
“Hundreds of thousands of people from across the country have chimed in with enthusiastic support for President Biden’s order to protect mature and old-growth forests on federal land,” said Blaine Miller-McFeeley, senior legislative representative at Earthjustice. “Establishing a durable, nationwide, rule to protect these vital forests would be a historic climate achievement for the U.S…”
Environmental activists protest BLM timber sale
By Chrissy Ewald
KLCC – July 5, 2023
A group of protesters blocked the entrance to Sierra Pacific Industries’ lumber mill in Eugene Wednesday to protest the company’s contract to log Bureau of Land Management timber lands.
About two dozen protesters sat between the train tracks and the entrance to the mill for more than an hour before police arrived. The group was protesting a recent timber sale by the Bureau of Land Management that would allow Sierra Pacific to commercially thin over 16,000 acres of public land north of Highway 126, just east of Siuslaw National Forest in western Lane County.
Protesters and the BLM disagree over how the thinning will affect the health of forests and animals.
“Although the BLM has kind of created this idea that it is to just thin the forests, through field checking and other ways of looking through the forest, we have found out that a lot of the forests are not young,” said Riley Fields, a forest conservation activist who was at the protest. “They’re actually mature and contain a lot of old growth and very, like, integral environments and ecosystems for the animals that live there…”
Biden’s Forest Service Is Dragging Its Feet On Protecting Ancient Trees From Logging
Critics say it is time for the White House to make demands of the Forest Service instead of letting the agency advance pro-logging policies.
By Chris D'Angelo
Huffpost – June 29, 2023
On Earth Day last year, President Joe Biden signed an executive order aimed at protecting and restoring mature and old-growth forests on federal lands across the country — one that many environmentalists took as a sign that the administration could move to halt logging of ancient trees that help slow the effects of climate change.
The order acknowledged the “irreplaceable role” forests play in sequestering planet-warming greenhouse gasses and tasked the nation’s two largest federal land managers, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service, with inventorying the nation’s remaining carbon-rich forests and then crafting rules to better conserve them in the face of mounting climate change impacts.
“Old-growth” forests, sometimes referred to as primary forests, are typically defined as those at least 150 years old and largely undisturbed by human activity, whereas “mature” forests are decades old but haven’t reached the old-growth stage. Together, these ecosystems form a key natural climate solution.
Early in his tenure, Biden found himself on shaky ground with green groups over the administration’s lack of commitment to protect these carbon hotspots. The executive order reinvigorated environmentalists and forest advocates.
But a little more than a year later, some of those same forest experts have soured. They say the Forest Service ― an agency within the Department of Agriculture established in 1905 primarily to ensure a steady supply of timber — isn’t taking the matter seriously enough, leaving the door open for the timber industry to keep chopping down mature and old-growth forests…
U.S. has inventoried old-growth forests. Will protection be next?
By Anna Phillips
Washington Post – April 20, 2023
In a first-ever finding that could increase protections for remaining U.S. forests, the federal government estimated Thursday that more than 100 million acres of old-growth and mature timberlands are still standing on public lands, despite decades of commercial logging, wildfires and climate threats.
The findings, the result of a year-long review ordered last year by President Biden, are likely to inflame tensions with the timber industry over which forests — especially those in the western United States — should remain unlogged. But they are energizing many conservation activists, including those who argue that old-growth forests are vital for storing carbon dioxide that contributes to climate change.
“It’s extremely encouraging that the Biden administration is recognizing the value of mature and old-growth trees,” said Blaine Miller-McFeeley, senior legislative representative at Earthjustice. He said the environmental law group supports rules “that will protect and restore climate forests for future generations from the threats they face today, including unnecessary logging…”
New EU Biomass Rules: A Crushing Defeat for Forests
Fern - April 13, 2023
The revision of the European Union’s renewable energy directive (RED) was largely finalised in Brussels, 31 March 2023, with the last trilogue negotiation. As yet unpublished, the text’s main elements are known – and disastrous for global forests and EU democracy.
On forest biomass, the outcome was a crushing defeat for the European Parliament, NGOs and scientists, who had hoped to preserve forests and the climate from the ballooning threat of a biomass industry that benefits from unlimited incentives, created by the RED, to log and burn trees for energy. More than half the EU’s wood harvest is burned for energy today, and the proportion is increasing.
The European Parliament’s position would have gone a long way towards stopping the most perverse effects for forests of the EU’s biomass rules, by limiting biomass incentives to wood-processing residues and putting an overall cap on Member State’s interest in pushing the industry. But after 15 hours of negotiations, hardly any of Parliament’s amendments survived. This, although a 60 per cent Parliament majority had voted in plenary to remove burning primary woody biomass (largely, forest biomass) from the directive’s incentives and targets: no longer counting its CO2 emissions as ‘zero’, giving it no more financial support, and capping so-called ‘renewable’ biomass energy to current levels of use – or in a way that preserves each Member State’s carbon sink…
Vagneur: Our debt to the wild wolves
By Tony Vagneur
Aspen Times – March 17, 2023
More than once, I traveled up to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in northern Minnesota, right outside of Ely. It’s a protected wilderness area. I’ve been there twice — once with a friend and once alone, not because I like canoes and water so much, but more because I like really cold winter weather, wilderness, and wolves.
It never got cold enough, and I never saw a wolf there; but at night in the dark, we could hear the howls and then the excitement as they downed something to eat. The signal was sent out far and wide for whatever scavengers there were in the area; and once in the morning, we found a close spot not more than 50 yards from the cabin. There was basically nothing left, except some blood-stained snow, packed-down from large footprints, hair and, pieces of bone here and there. It’s worth the trip just to hear the howls.
Lobo, creature of the twilight hours, making a living in tough territory. It is said the gray wolf is second in intelligence only to man, which might explain why Manifest Destiny, fear, and misunderstanding caused settlers in the 19th and early 20th centuries to almost extirpate the species from the Lower 48. Didn’t need the competition…
The Biden administration has called for protecting mature US forests to slow climate change, but it’s still allowing them to be logged
By Beverly Law & William Moomaw
The Conversation - March 9, 2023
Forests are critically important for slowing climate change. They remove huge quantities of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere – 30% of all fossil fuel emissions annually – and store carbon in trees and soils. Old and mature forests are especially important: They handle droughts, storms and wildfires better than young trees, and they store more carbon.
In a 2022 executive order, President Joe Biden called for conserving mature and old-growth forests on federal lands. Recently Biden protected nearly half of the Tongass National Forest in Alaska from road-building and logging.
The Biden administration is compiling an inventory of mature and old-growth forests on public lands that will support further conservation actions. But at the same time, federal agencies are initiating and implementing numerous logging projects in mature and old forests without accounting for how these projects will affect climate change or forest species.
As scientists who have spent decades studying forest ecosystems and climate change impacts, we find that to effectively slow climate change, it is essential to increase carbon storage in these forests, not reduce it. A first step toward this goal would be to halt logging federal forests with relatively high-biomass carbon per acre until the Biden administration develops a plan for conserving them…
Fish and Wildlife proposes to list Sierra Nevada California spotted owl as threatened
Sierra Sun - Feb 22, 2023
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to list the California spotted owl population in the Sierra Nevada as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
USFW has determined that the California spotted owl is comprised of two geographically and genetically distinct population segments, the Coastal-Southern California DPS and the Sierra Nevada DPS. The Service is proposing to list the Coastal-Southern California DPS as endangered and the Sierra Nevada DPS as threatened. As part of this proposed listing, the Service is including a rule for the Sierra Nevada DPS that exempts the prohibition of take under the ESA for forest fuels management activities that reduce the risk of large-scale high-severity wildfire.
“Our goal is to help the California spotted owl recover across its range,” said Michael Fris, field supervisor of the Service’s Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office. “Ongoing collaboration with a number of partners will result in positive conservation gains and put this species on the road to recovery…”
Guest Column: Keeping large trees in the forest is critical
By George Wuerthner
The Bulletin - Feb 7, 2023
The Blue Mountains Complex of Oregon stretches east to west from the Snake River to the Cascades. The Blue Mountain Complex comprises subranges, including the Wallowa, Elkhorns, Strawberries, Aldrich and Ochoco.
Due to logging, clearing for agriculture and other factors, researchers have found that only 3% of the trees in Eastern Oregon exceed 21 inches. Yet this tiny percentage of the forests contains 50% of the above-ground carbon storage in the region.
Furthermore, larger trees accumulate carbon more rapidly than smaller trees, so maintaining as many large trees — either alive or dead — in the forest ecosystem is critical to keeping carbon in the forest ecosystem…
Scientist: Trees felled in vain in name of fire control
Thinning’ forests and ‘controlled burns’ no match for climate fires
By Dana Gentry
Nevada Current – January 25, 2023
An alliance between governments and the commercial logging industry under the guise of fire management is decimating forests, wreaking ecological havoc, and exacerbating risks for people and property, according to scientists at odds with what they call archaic methods that are futile in controlling fires.
“The Forest Service uses the term ‘thinning and fuel reduction,’ a euphemism for commercial logging,’” says Dr. Chad Hanson, an ecologist and vocal critic with a following of colleagues critical of traditional fire management practices at a time when climate change has increased fire severity. “What they’re really doing is selling and removing large, commercially valuable trees on a fairly significant scale. Not only does that fail to protect homes, it will actually make a fire spread faster, and often more intensely toward the homes.”
A dense, mature forest with high canopy cover “means more cooling shade during the summer, and that means everything on the forest floor stays more moist,” Hanson explains. “More trees, bigger trees, act as a windbreak against the winds that drive the flames.”
U.S. Forest Service Restores Critical Protections to Tongass National Forest
The Wilderness Society - January 25, 2023
The National Roadless Rule was rolled back for America’s last great rainforest by the Trump administration, threatening millions of acres of undeveloped national forest lands
In a win for Southeast Alaska communities, wildlife, and the climate, the U.S. Forest Service reinstated Roadless Rule protections across the Tongass rainforest in Southeast Alaska. Tribal leaders, recreational small-business owners, commercial fishing operators, and conservationists cheered the agency’s restoration of this critical safeguard. The move restores federal protection — from industrial logging and damaging road-building — to just over 9 million undeveloped acres in America’s largest national forest.
The 17 million-acre Tongass National Forest, situated in the southeast corner of Alaska, is a temperate rainforest that draws visitors from around the globe and provides habitat for an abundance of wildlife including grizzly bears, bald eagles, and wolves. It is the ancestral homeland of the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian peoples. The Tongass also serves as the country’s largest forest carbon sink, making its protection critical for U.S. efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions and to set a global example…
Commissioners hope to continue ban on wolf trapping in Blaine County
County submits letter to Idaho Fish and Game
By Mike Shultz
Idaho Mountain Express – January 9, 2023
The Blaine County commissioners submitted a letter to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game urging the agency to continue its ban on wolf trapping on public land in Blaine County, which houses the only two game units in Idaho where the practice is currently outlawed.
Fish and Game evaluates hunting and trapping seasons every two years. In 2021, the commissioners sent a similar letter opposing a wolf trapping season within county limits. Game Units 48 and 49, which follow the Wood River Valley from U.S. Highway 20 up to Galena Summit, are the lone management units without a wolf trapping season, per Fish and Game’s hunting regulations.
Fish and Game proposed also a trapping season in 2019, but state officials withdrew the plan after residents voiced concerns over pets, children and other wildlife interacting with the traps.
The commissioner's letter, which they agreed to send Tuesday, states that wolf hunting and trapping doesn’t mesh with how residents and visitors recreate on public lands, and says that the practice is at odds with local “values of coexistence” with wildlife…
Protect forests, don’t plant new trees to fight climate change, scientists warn
New mass plantations absorb CO2 but don’t benefit biodiversity, experts say.
By Louise Guillot
E&E News – November 13, 2023
Governments need to step up efforts to preserve the world’s existing forests, rather than planting new trees to absorb carbon, according to scientists.
In a new report out today in the journal Nature, more than 200 scientists argue that the world’s forests have the potential to store up to 338 gigatons of carbon but stress that they can only act as carbon sinks if they are adequately restored and protected.
The report, conducted by public research university ETH Zürich, aims to counterbalance a previous study by the same institution, which argued the world could absorb significant amounts of CO2 by planting 1 trillion new trees…
Hundreds Rally in Opposition to Wall Street Forestry and False Climate Solutions Outside of Timber Conference
350 Salem - September 27, 2023
Portland, OR – This afternoon, dozens of organizations came together from across the region to organize a mass protest of the “Who Will Own the Forest” conference, with hundreds in attendance. Speakers at the rally called out forest carbon offsets, which were being promoted at the conference, as false solutions, highlighted the environmental impacts of industrial logging, and aimed criticism at the broader framing of the conference as an affront to Indigenous sovereignty.
“When we think of who will ‘own’ the forest, we must remember the people who have always had the longest relationship with the forest, those who have maintained a reciprocal relationship with forests since time immemorial. These are the same people whose livelihoods and well-being are intertwined with forests’ health,” said Thomas Joseph, Carbon Pricing Educator with Indigenous Environmental Network. “This concept of ownership is rooted in the foundation of this country- conquest and domination- which has enabled extractive culture and the commodification of the sacred.”
Earlier this morning, a dozen activists joined arms and blocked the entrance to the conference, in the second disruption of the conference in two days. Protestors harangued conference goers with chants of “shame” and “clean water, clean air, not another billionaire.” This action came immediately on the heels of a similar disruption yesterday evening, where dozens of activists blocked the entrance to the opening reception of the conference…
After more than 100 years, gray wolves reappear in Giant Sequoia National Monument
By Louis Sahagún - Staff Writer
Aug. 30, 2023
GIANT SEQUOIA NATIONAL MONUMENT, Calif.
On the morning of July 6, Michelle Harris saw a huge canid with yellow eyes dash across a fire road lined with charred snags and giant sequoias blackened by recent wildfires.
The animal “paused, started to pace and made clipped barking sounds — like it was very worried about something,” recalled Harris, a biologist who was working on a restoration project in the area. “Then it tilted its head back and let out a really decent howl.”
“All I could think was, ‘It doesn’t look like a coyote, but it has to be, right?’ ”
Animal tracks and DNA analysis of scat and hair samples determined it was an adult female gray wolf, the leader of a previously undetected pack settling into Giant Sequoia National Monument — a region of the Southern Sierra Nevada that hasn’t felt a wolf’s paw in more than a century.
Activists race to document mature forests in hopes of preserving them as carbon sinks
By Bellamy Pailthorp
KNKX Public Radio |- August 6, 2023
Last spring, state legislators set aside $70 million of revenue from Washington’s Climate Commitment Act to conserve mature forests that are slated for logging. The money is to be used to purchase state lands from the Department of Natural Resources, as well as replacement tracts to keep timber revenue flowing to beneficiaries that rely on it.
However, the new funding is only enough to cover about 2,000 acres statewide. Community activists estimate there are about 6,000 acres of unprotected mature forests on state lands in Snohomish County alone. They say many of these forests contain trees that are over 100 years old, but don’t meet DNR’s narrow definition of old growth. About 1,000 of those acres in Snohomish County will likely be logged in the next two years.
On the docket for March is a harvest unit outside the city of Sultan, called Ridge Ender. Getting to it involves climbing over logs, beating back branches and testing your balance at every step. But Kate Lunceford from the League of Women Voters is on a mission to help document big trees, even after recent bushwhacking disturbed a wasp’s nest that left her with 14 stings.
Lunceford said they’re calling on the Snohomish County Executive and the County Council to help prevent the logging of this unit and three others that are up for auction soon…
Wood isn’t the climate-friendly material you think it is
A new study shows that cutting down trees for paper, furniture, and fuel emits three times more carbon than flying.
By Max Graham
Grist – July 7, 2023
Whether used to heat your house or build it, wood is often touted as carbon-neutral, especially by biofuel and lumber companies and even some environmentalists. The logic seems simple enough: Sure, logging unleashes planet-warming carbon into the air, but that can be replaced with new trees that suck carbon back out of the air.
But this doesn’t reflect how the emissions from harvesting wood actually work, according to a paper published this week in Nature. Even when the carbon captured by new trees is taken into account, wood consumption accounts for about one-tenth of the world’s annual greenhouse gas emissions, the study’s authors found — less than electricity and heat generation, but more than passenger cars.
“The bottom line is you got a lot of emissions coming from wood harvest, and we don’t pay attention to that,” said Tim Searchinger, senior fellow and technical director for agriculture, forestry, and ecosystems at the World Resources Institute and a co-author of the paper…
Why protected forests are critical to reaching climate goals
By Patrick Roehrdanz
World Economic Forum - July 4, 2023
Protected forests absorb and capture carbon more than new technologies attracting billions in funding.
The voluntary carbon market could be a crucial source of financing to help bridge resourcing gap for protected forests.
Data shows that protected forests store 28% more carbon than ecologically similar but unprotected forests.
In the race to net zero, public and private funders are flocking to experimental technologies, such as direct air capture, to remove carbon from the atmosphere, investing tens of billions into mechanisms that could fend off the worst climate outcomes. The excitement is understandable; if there is a moonshot solution to be found, we’re fuelling the rocket ship.
But here’s the reality – right now, these technologies sequester negligible amounts of carbon. The 30 carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) facilities currently in operation capture just 42 megatons per year, roughly one-tenth of 1% of annual human emissions. Nearly all of the carbon that humans are able to sequester in a year comes through land management – chiefly forest protection.
Protected areas yield well-documented benefits for wildlife and biodiversity. But a new study from Conservation International and three research universities puts a finer point on just how vital protected forests are to our climate bottom line, too. Using spatial data from a NASA mission to build a first-of-its-kind global forests map in 3D, the Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) found that protected aboveground forests currently store more than 61 gigatons of carbon, equal to the annual emissions of 13 billion cars…
County to Vote on Rejoining Timber Group
Lane County Previously Left the Association of O&C Counties in 2019 And Stopped Paying Its $80,000 Dues
By Camilla Mortensen
Eugene Weekly – June 5, 2023
There is a motion to rejoin the pro-logging Association of O&C Counties on the June 6 Lane County Board of County Commissioners agenda. In 2019 the commission voted to leave the AOC and stop paying the $80,00 in dues.
The AOCC lobbies for logging on federal lands in western Oregon, and conservation group Oregon Wild pointed out during the 2019 decision-making process to leave the organization that “$100,000 of taxpayer money was allocated in Lane County’s budget to support the AOCC in FY2018 alone.”
Tuesday’s vote would be on whether to rejoin the group, and allocating general funds dollars to do so would be addressed at the next supplemental budget opportunity.
Chandra LeGue, senior conservation advocate for Oregon Wild points out that between dues and the AOCC’s litigation fund, Lane County has saved $90,000 a year since leaving the organization. “The only reason to join is to give support to a timber lobby association,” she says…
Forest Service takes key step toward first national rule to protect mature, old-growth trees, forests
Announcement advances Biden’s 2022 Earth Day Executive Order
Earth Justice – April 20, 2023
WASHINGTON, D.C. — According to reports, the U.S. Forest Service announced Thursday a pathway for protecting mature and old-growth trees and forests as part of a strategy to improve the climate resilience of federally managed forests. The agency is pursuing a rulemaking process, which will involve a public comment period to gather input on new policies the agency can adopt.
Additionally as reported by the Washington Post, the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released an inventory of mature and old-growth forests, the first of its kind, as required by President Biden’s Executive Order, 14072. Mature and old-growth forests are essential for watershed health, provide critical wildlife habitat, are generally more resilient to wildfire and are an important natural climate solution, absorbing and storing tons of carbon.
Members of the Climate Forests Campaign, a coalition of more than 120 organizations working to protect mature and old-growth trees and forests on federal land, praised these announcements as a significant step forward.
The coalition has been elevating calls from community members, scientists, and activists around the country about the necessity of protecting these trees and forests, including from the ongoing threat of logging…
Rewilding’ Parts of the Planet Could Have Big Climate Benefits
Restoring fish, bison, gray wolves and other animals in key regions is possible without risking food supplies, and could remove nearly 500 gigatons of CO2 from the atmosphere by 2100.
By Bob Berwyn
Inside Climate News – March 27, 2023
Restoring populations of land and marine animals in targeted “rewilding” zones would speed up biological carbon pumps that remove carbon dioxide from the air and sequester the greenhouse gas where it doesn’t harm the climate, new research shows.
An international team of scientists focused the study on marine fish, whales, sharks, gray wolves, wildebeest, sea otters, musk oxen, African forest elephants and American bison as species, or groups of species, that accelerate the carbon cycle. Collectively, they “could facilitate the additional capture” of almost 500 gigatons of CO2 by 2100, which would be a big step toward preventing long-term planetary heating of more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, the authors wrote in Nature.
Recent global climate reports and guidelines on carbon dioxide removal from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and other groups of scientists have often overlooked the multiplier effect of animals as a climate benefit, said lead author Oswald Schmitz, professor of population and community ecology at the Yale School of the Environment.
The Significance of Carbon Emissions from Logging on Federal Forests
Scientific research indicates that logging on federal forests is a substantial source of carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere that is at least comparable to and likely greater than levels associated with wildfires.
Emissions from logging scale up faster than those from fire. When mature trees are logged, a significant proportion of their carbon is emitted to the atmosphere shortly after logging, even when accounting for carbon stored in wood products that are made from the logged trees. In contrast, when mature trees are affected by fire, they often survive with their carbon stores intact—protected by adaptations such as thick bark and high crowns—and continue to grow. Even when severe fire does kill these mature trees, field research indicates that only a relatively small amount of their carbon is combusted into the atmosphere, and the remainder can remain in the forest for decades or even centuries, as the trees slowly decompose. This is why, even in dry forests, on a per acre basis, emissions from logging are generally greater than those from wildfire and often substantially so—up to 8 times greater in certain circumstances.
As a result, total national carbon emissions from logging exceed those from fire, even though in many areas more acres of land are affected by fire. The government’s own assessment found this to be true on forests owned and managed by the federal government across the country, where overall fire affects many more acres than logging. In a first-of-its-kind assessment from 2018 focused on carbon emissions associated with federal lands, the United States Geological Survey estimated that across the conterminous U.S., carbon emissions from logging of federal forests were more than double those from fire on those lands.
Greening the Grove
Cottage Grove’s Sustainability and Resiliency Challenge website can help community members save money and create a cleaner, safer, and healthier future.
Cottage Grove Sentinel – March 4, 2023
March 03 - In 2022, the City of Cottage Grove launched the Sustainability and Resiliency Challenge, a website to help the community save energy and reduce the impact on the environment. Created by Community Climate Solutions (CCS), the program is designed to help cities learn more about their ecological footprint and help community members save on energy costs.
With the assistance of CCS, each city and town can design a unique website for their community. Whether reducing energy on heating, cooling, or driving, the website provides ideas to save money and help the planet.
"Greening the Grove is a fun and easy way to learn the impact our actions have on the environment. This tool provides education and examples of changes, large and small, that can save you money while protecting our resources." Shauna Neigh, Cottage Grove Project Coordinator
According to Yale research, over two-thirds of Americans are concerned about climate change and want to take action, but do not know what to do. The Challenge provides the tools and information to help people decrease greenhouse gas emissions and save money at the same time…
Forest landslide frequency, size influenced more by road building, logging than heavy rain
Forest management history affects how often landslides occur and how severe they are
National Science Foundation – February 14, 2023
A long-term Pacific Northwest study of landslides, clear-cutting timber and building roads shows that forest management history has a greater impact on how often landslides occur and how severe they are compared to how much water is coursing through a watershed.
Findings of the U.S. National Science Foundation-supported research, led by Catalina Segura and Arianna Goodman of Oregon State University, were published in the journal Earth Surface Processes and Landforms. "The study highlights the importance of land-use dynamics on natural processes such as landslides," said Justin Lawrence, a program director in NSF's Division of Earth Sciences. "This team could improve the way forests are managed in the future."
Probing the factors behind landside frequency and magnitude is crucial because slides occur in all 50 states, causing an average of more than 25 deaths per year, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The USGS puts the total annual average economic damage resulting from landslides at greater than $1 billion…
New study shows National Park wolves suffer pack disruption from hunting, lethal control when allowed outside Park boundaries
Western Watersheds Project – February 10, 2023
A new study shows that wolves living inside National Parks – protected from killing and harassment by humans – suffer a high chance of social disruption and pack disintegration due to human-caused deaths outside Park boundaries. Across five National Parks (Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Voyageurs, Yukon-Charley, and Denali), 82% of wolves that died of human causes over the past 35 years died were at the hands of trophy hunting and state and federal agencies’ officially-sanctioned killing outside Park boundaries. As a result, National Park wolf packs had a 20% chance of losing a pack member each year, and packs that lost at least one member to human causes had a 23.7% chance of disintegrating entirely. In some cases, entire packs were wiped out, according to the research.
“Clearly, the National Park Service is unable to protect wolves living inside National Parks from depredations that occur from wolf hunters and wildlife-killing agencies outside their borders,” said Erik Molvar, a wildlife biologist and Executive Director with Western Watersheds Project. “Excessively permissive hunting and trapping policies by anti-wolf state governments, and federal and state agencies eager to kill wolves to appease the livestock industry and soothe irrational and unfounded fears of rural local residents, are to blame…”
Researchers question spotted owl recovery efforts
By Dana Kobilinsky
The Wildlife Society – January 17, 2023
A group of researchers is suggesting that plans to protect the northern spotted owl may need to be updated, with additional restrictions put in place on timber removal, even in severely burned areas.
Agencies often allow trees to be removed in these areas in an effort to reduce fuel buildup, and they permit some accidental harm or death to the federally threatened owls, known as “incidental take.” These scorched areas are often deemed too burned for owls to use. But a study published in the journal Forests suggests that the owls are using some of these areas, and they may be avoiding others not because they are burned but because of timber activities.
Northern spotted owls (Strix occidentalis caurina) are one of three subspecies of spotted owls, all of which are imperiled. Biologists believe they have faced three major threats—logging, incursions by invasive barred owls (Strix varia) and wildfire. Management to help the species, which ranges from southwestern British Columbia to northern California, often focuses on reducing forest fire risks and removing barred owls…
The US was poised to pass the biggest environmental law in a generation. What went wrong?
Recovering America’s Wildlife Act died last year in Congress, but lawmakers may soon get another shot.
By Benji Jones
Vox – January 11, 2023
Just a few months ago, the US was poised to pass one of the most significant environmental laws in history: Recovering America’s Wildlife Act. The bill, known as RAWA, would fund species conservation across the country and was considered the biggest piece of environmental legislation since the Endangered Species Act of 1973.
In June, RAWA passed the US House by a large margin. And months earlier, it cleared the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works with bipartisan support. It had the Senate votes. Then, in December, weeks before the congressional term was over, it seemed like the bill’s time was finally here: Lawmakers included RAWA in the massive government spending bill.
But just before the bill came to a vote, RAWA was cut, largely because Congress couldn’t agree on how to pay for it. Then the congressional term was over. RAWA was dead; lawmakers would have to restart the process. This was just days after more than 190 nations adopted an agreement to protect wildlife at the United Nations biodiversity summit in Montreal…