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…
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…
Bison are bringing biodiversity back to Kansas prairie land
BY MIYO MCGINN
PUBLISHED SEP 2, 2022
American bison were once so numerous that in 1889 the superintendent of the National Zoo wrote that trying to count them would be like tallying “the number of leaves in a forest.” It’s much of the reason why the exact ecological impact of North America’s largest land mammals was never measured, before colonizers hunted them to near-extinction in the 19th century. But current efforts to restore them to their historic range have affirmed what conservationists and Native Americans have been saying for decades: Bison are critical to the prairie’s health.
New research on the long-term benefits of reintroducing bison shows that their presence makes the land more biodiverse and resilient to drought. A paper published this week in the journal PNAS measures the ripple effects of the giant grazers on the tallgrass prairie ecosystem that used to stretch from modern-day Texas to Minnesota and cover 170 million acres of North America. Today, only about 4 percent of the old-growth prairie remains, mostly in the Flint Hill region of Kansas where the study took place. The data, which spans multiple decades following the bison’s return, is unequivocal: The herbivores more than doubled the number of native species in tallgrass habitats.
When trees face drought and climate change, old age trumps youth
Tree rings from 22,000 trees around the world reveal that old-growth trees keep growing and sucking up carbon more than younger trees during a drought.
By Warren Cornwall
Anthropocene - December 7, 2022
Sometimes old age and gritty stamina trumps youth and resilience. It’s true for people. It turns out it’s true for trees as well.
Old-growth trees can endure the battering of a drought better than their younger counterparts, scientists have learned. In the face of increasingly frequent and more intense droughts fueled by climate change, the new research underscores the importance of ancient trees to sustain forests.
“Given their high resistance to drought and their exceptional carbon storage capacity, conservation of older trees in the upper canopy should be the top priority from a climate mitigation perspective,” said forest ecologist Tsun Fung Au, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Michigan who helped lead the work.
As the world gets hotter, forests are getting younger as trees regrow in places once cleared for farming, timber and other uses. By one estimate, young forests cover nearly double the area of old-growth forests around the world, 26 million square kilometers to 16.5 million.
That raises questions about how these demographic shifts might influence the ability of forests to withstand the pressures of climatic events such as droughts. Forests in the southwest U.S., for example, are currently in the grip of the worst drought of at least the last 1200 years…
An Economy of Abundance
by Robin Wall Kimmerer
October 26, 2022
As Robin Wall Kimmerer harvests serviceberries alongside the birds, she considers the ethic of reciprocity that lies at the heart of the gift economy. How, she asks, can we learn from Indigenous wisdom and ecological systems to reimagine currencies of exchange?
THE COOL BREATH of evening slips off the wooded hills, displacing the heat of the day, and with it come the birds, as eager for the cool as I am. They arrive in a flock of calls that sound like laughter, and I have to laugh back with the same delight. They are all around me, Cedar Waxwings and Catbirds and a flash of Bluebird iridescence. I have never felt such a kinship to my namesake, Robin, as in this moment when we are both stuffing our mouths with berries and chortling with happiness. The bushes are laden with fat clusters of red, blue, and wine purple in every stage of ripeness—so many, you can pick them by the handful. I’m glad I have a pail and wonder if the birds will be able to fly with their bellies as full as mine.
This abundance of berries feels like a pure gift from the land. I have not earned, paid for, nor labored for them. There is no mathematics of worthiness that reckons I deserve them in any way. And yet here they are—along with the sun and the air and the birds and the rain, gathering in the towers of cumulonimbi. You could call them natural resources or ecosystem services, but the Robins and I know them as gifts. We both sing gratitude with our mouths full.
Part of my delight comes from their unexpected presence. The local native Serviceberries, Amelanchier arborea, have small, hard fruits, which tend toward dryness, and only once in a while is there a tree with sweet offerings. The bounty in my bucket is a western species—A. alnifolium, known as Saskatoons—planted by my farmer neighbor, and this is their first bearing year, which they do with an enthusiasm that matches my own…
How an anti-environmental group is shaping Oregon politics and policy
By Britta Lokting, December 1, 2022. Shortly after this year’s midterm elections, an anti-government group in Oregon called Timber Unity posted a call to action on Facebook. It asked its followers to “bombard” Portland city council members during an upcoming hearing over a proposed change to a motor vehicles fuel code.
The changes in the code would reduce dependence on nonrenewable fossil fuels by “increasing the required percentage of renewable fuels blended with petroleum diesel.”
In its post, Timber Unity called this a “special eletist [sic] blend” that would raise the price of diesel, lead distributors to disinvest in Oregon and cause biodiesel and renewable diesel to “not meet specs.”
All of these claims were false, according to the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability.
Timber Unity has been active in Oregon politics since its founding three years ago.
This year, it endorsed Republican Christine Drazan for governor. Even though she lost, other conservative candidates won and did so with help from Timber Unity, an increasingly active conservative organization with a decidedly anti-conservation agenda...
Why Scientists Are Rallying to Save Ponds
Humble ponds have a key role to play in fighting climate change and aiding conservation — but only if we protect them.
By Jack McGovan
The Revelator - November 7, 2022
Thomas Mehner’s research team has spent the past few years wading through ponds in Brandenburg — the state surrounding Germany’s capital city, Berlin. It wasn’t the increasingly hot summers that forced them into the cool water. They were collecting samples for analysis — something not many other people are doing.
“Northeast Germany is blessed with lakes, so if you talk with people about ponds, they say, ‘Are they so important?’” says Mehner, a researcher at the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries in Friedrichshagen, Berlin.
The answer, it turns out, is yes.
Ponds take so many forms across the world that the word “pond” can be quite difficult to define. Typically, however, they’re smaller and shallower than lakes. As to their importance, research suggests that ponds are better for biodiversity than many larger bodies of water. They’ve been found to support more plants and animals overall, including many endangered species…
It's Time to End the War on Wolves in the Northern Rockies
By Jamie Rappaport Clark
Defenders of Wildlife – October 18, 2022
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is now long overdue on determining whether federal protections should be restored for gray wolves in the Northern Rockies. While gray wolves are now protected in most states under the Endangered Species Act, the populations in the Northern Rockies states of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho are still in grave danger.
Throughout my career, including years overseeing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and now leading Defenders of Wildlife, I've watched the treatment of these incredible animals with intensifying outrage. Lawmakers in Montana and Idaho have relaxed wolf hunting rules. Idaho now supports a bounty of up to $2,000 per animal to kill wolves, permits year-round trapping on private land, and allows hunters and trappers to kill an unlimited number. Meanwhile, Montana relaxed state trapping rules to include snaring wolves and now permits baiting and night hunting. As with Idaho, Montana allows bounties and has even increased the number of wolves allowed to be killed in a season. Wolves are being targeted with little regard for science, long-standing wildlife management principles, or acknowledgment of their contribution to the ecosystems they inhabit and the economies they bolster…
Over 100 “Kayaktivists” and Community Members Protest Old-Growth Logging
Cascadia Wildlands - October 8, 2022
Leaburg, OREGON — Today, a “kayaktivist” flotilla of over 100 concerned community members rallied on the McKenzie River to protest an old-growth logging sale in the Willamette National Forest. The Flat Country project, proposed by the U.S. Forest Service, targets over 2,000 acres of old-growth and mature forests for logging across the headwaters of the McKenzie River. The agency could auction the old growth to be cut at any moment. Attendees held up signs from boats and kayaks, and unfurled a large banner declaring “Forest Defense is Watershed Defense”, to draw attention to the logging sale’s impact on downstream drinking water…
Iconic PNW 'trees of life' are dying. Scientists now know why
By Nathan Gilles
Columbia Insight August 31, 2022
Their branches drop gracefully, then curve upward to their tips.
They’re conifers, yet they don’t have coarse, rough needles.
Instead, they have soft, folded, scale-like “leaves,” bright green when new, darker when old. Their trunks — covered in thin reddish-brown bark — can grow to nearly 20 feet in diameter, though they aren’t ramrod straight like a Douglas fir, but noticeably wider at their bottoms, where flowing buttress-like structures form.
They grow as understory trees for much of their lives, but they can also stretch to the forest overstory, reaching heights of up to 200 feet.
They’re a key part of Pacific Northwest ecosystems, though they rarely dominate the forest, often living alongside firs, hemlocks, alders and maples.
These trees are the Pacific Northwest’s iconic western redcedars (Thuja plicata).
To many Indigenous peoples, who used the trees for houses, clothes, weapons, tools, medicines, art and canoes, they’re known as the Tree of Life.
They’ve been recorded to live for over 1,500 years.
But these trees are now dying.
Gray wolves should have over one-third of Western federal lands, experts say
By Megan Marples
CNN – August 12, 2022
Gray wolves may be getting a major habitat upgrade, if these experts have any say, that is.
A group of researchers from across the United States wrote a proposal that would include setting aside a significant amount of federal land as a sanctuary for gray wolves and other animals such as beavers, and it's known as the Western Rewilding Network, according to a report published August 9 in the journal BioScience.
"Although gray wolves and beavers currently have low risk of extinction, we are very concerned that these keystone species have been lost from many ecosystems across the American West," said report coauthor Christopher Wolf, a postdoctoral scholar in the College of Forestry at Oregon State University in Corvallis…
A Historic Chance to Protect America’s Free-Flowing Rivers
Public Lands & Protected Spaces
March 2, 2022 - by Tara Lohan
Ten bills in Congress would add conservation protections to 7,000 miles of river to safeguard drinking water, biodiversity and recreation.
Each year thousands of tourists who visit Central Oregon trudge up a steep half-mile path to see Tumalo Creek emerge from the pine forest and plunge 97 feet over lava rock into a narrow canyon. Tumalo Falls is the highlight for visitors who hike along the 20-mile creek. But for residents in nearby Bend, the creek is also a prized source of drinking water and a haven for wildlife.
Years-long efforts to protect the ecological integrity and scenic values of Tumalo Creek could be solidified with a bill now in Congress. The River Democracy Act would designate not just Tumalo but 4,711 miles of rivers throughout the state as part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.
Oregon teachers, students lead push for sweeping expansion of climate change curriculum
By Elizabeth Miller
OPB – July, 15, 2022
A group representing schools across the state would like to see its draft legislation add climate education throughout grade levels and core classes.
Student activism around climate change has been ramping up in recent years, with students across Oregon and the country leading walkouts and protests.
Students see climate change discussions on social media and they talk about it with their friends.
“For our generation, this is something that everyone is talking about, because we understand how pressing this issue is,” said Bend Senior High School junior Olive Nye. “And it really feels like an emergency to us...”
Logging Is Slashing US Forests’ Ability to Absorb Carbon by Over One-Third
By Kathy Egland & Leo Woodberry
Truthout – July 13. 2022
Everybody’s heard about the importance of protecting the Amazon rainforest. But when it comes to protecting forests here in the United States, a lot of people in business, government and the environmental movement seem to have a willful ignorance. That needs to change.
U.S. forests need protection, now. We must end government policies shaped by the logging and wood products industries that sound sensible but are actually meant to expand logging, rather than contain it. We are calling out big, influential environmental organizations whose efforts end up furthering the interests of industry. Forests — and people and the planet — are paying too high a price for the wood product sector’s profits.
Forests are the only proven, large-scale system we have for soaking up carbon and locking it away for centuries. But logging is slashing U.S. forests’ ability to accumulate carbon by over one-third. And because felled trees immediately release most of the carbon they store, logging in the United States releases about 723 million tons of carbon dioxide every year…
Logjams Benefit Wildlife So Much That Scientists Are Intentionally Placing Wood in Streams
Study finds it's not just fish that use wood pieces for shelter and passage.
By Mary Jo DiLonardo
Treehugger – July 7, 2022
When a large chunk of wood sits in a stream, it offers benefits to the creatures around it. New research finds it’s not just fish, but other wildlife that take advantage of the wood too.
Researchers were curious how logjams and floating wood could have an impact on animals in the ecosystem.
“We were interested in this topic because as the importance of large wood in rivers is well recognized for salmon, we knew little about the implications for wildlife,” study author Ivan Arismendi, a scientist at Oregon State University, tells Treehugger…
Court Halts Logging of Elliott State Forest Tract Sold to Private Timber Company
Clearcutting Would Imperil Threatened Marbled Murrelets
Center for Biological Diversity
For Immediate Release, June 28, 2022
EUGENE, Ore.— A U.S. District Court judge issued a ruling today preventing Scott Timber from clearcutting old-growth forest that was previously part of the Elliott State Forest. The court found that the proposed logging of the Benson Ridge parcel by the subsidiary of Roseburg Forest Products would harm and harass threatened marbled murrelets, in violation of the federal Endangered Species Act. The court’s ruling permanently enjoins logging of the occupied murrelet habitat.
In August 2016 Cascadia Wildlands, the Center for Biological Diversity and Portland Audubon filed suit seeking to block Scott Timber from clearcutting 49 acres of the 355-acre parcel of land because of the impacts to threatened marbled murrelets.
“Today’s ruling is groundbreaking because it holds a private timber company accountable for plans to destroy habitat essential for imperiled wildlife in Oregon,” said Nick Cady, legal director at Cascadia Wildlands. “This ruling establishes that private timber companies can no longer violate the Endangered Species Act with abandon.”
U.S. House passes a major wildlife conservation spending bill
By Laura Benshoff
NPR – June 14, 2022
A bill to conserve endangered species — from the red-cockaded woodpecker to the snuffbox mussel — was passed by the U.S. House in a 231-to-190 vote on Tuesday.
The Recovering America's Wildlife Act would create an annual fund of more than $1.3 billion, given to states, territories, and tribal nations for wildlife conservation on the ground. While threatened species have been defined and protected under the Endangered Species Act since 1973, that law does not provide robust funding to proactively maintain their numbers.
The effort comes as scientists and international organizations sound the alarm about accelerating species decline.
"Too many people don't realize ... that roughly one-third of our wildlife is at increased risk of extinction," said lead House sponsor Debbie Dingell, a Democrat from Michigan, echoing a recent study about climate change…
Lawsuit challenges rollback of large tree protections east of the Cascades
By Bradley W. Parks
OPB – June 15, 2022
For more than two decades, a federal rule prohibited cutting trees larger than 21 inches in diameter on millions of forested acres in Oregon and Washington. That changed in the final days of the Trump administration.
Six conservation groups filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the U.S. Forest Service over a decision to weaken protections for old and mature forests east of the Cascades.
Just days before President Trump left office last year, the Forest Service approved amendments to the Eastside Screens, a plan managing about 8 million forested acres of Oregon and Washington.
The amendments scrapped the “21-inch rule,” which prohibited cutting trees larger than 21 inches in diameter. The rule is seen among many in the conservation community as one of the most significant protections for large trees in dry-side forests…
Forest degradation drives widespread avian habitat and population declines
By Matthew G. Betts, Zhiqiang Yang, Adam S. Hadley, Adam C. Smith, Josée S. Rousseau, Joseph M. Northrup, Joseph J. Nocera, Noel Gorelick & Brian D. Gerber
Nature - April 28, 2022
In many regions of the world, forest management has reduced old forest and simplified forest structure and composition. We hypothesized that such forest degradation has resulted in long-term habitat loss for forest-associated bird species of eastern Canada (130,017 km2) which, in turn, has caused bird-population declines. Despite little change in overall forest cover, we found substantial reductions in old forest as a result of frequent clear-cutting and a broad-scale transformation to intensified forestry. Back-cast species distribution models revealed that breeding habitat loss occurred for 66% of the 54 most common species from 1985 to 2020 and was strongly associated with reduction in old age classes. Using a long-term, independent dataset, we found that habitat amount predicted population size for 94% of species, and habitat loss was associated with population declines for old-forest species. Forest degradation may therefore be a primary cause of biodiversity decline in managed forest landscapes…
Wildlife corridor from Yellowstone to Yukon shows promise, includes swath of Oregon
By Charles C. Chester, Brandeis University, and Mark Hebblewhite, University of Montana
The Oregonian - April 28, 2022
As human development spreads ever farther around the world, very few large ecosystems remain relatively intact and uninterrupted by highways, cities or other human-constructed obstacles. One of the largest exceptions is the Yellowstone to Yukon region, or Y2Y, which stretches more than 2,000 miles northwest from Wyoming, across northeastern Oregon, and up into Canada’s Yukon territory.
For the past 30 years conservationists have worked to knit this huge stretch of land together under the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative. Y2Y seeks to make room for wildlife in connected landscapes that give animals the ability to move across large areas – whether they are following age-old migration patterns or responding to a changing climate.
Throughout this huge region, hundreds of partners – conservation groups, private landowners, businesses, government agencies, tribes and scientists – have worked to knit landscapes together and make it possible for animals to move across it. Participants have constructed wildlife road crossings, conducted “bear aware” campaigns to reduce clashes between people and animals, placed conservation easements on private lands and supported Indigenous efforts to protect sacred spaces…
Biden will order a study of old-growth forests in an Earth Day executive action
By Laura Benshoff
NPR - April 22, 2022
President Biden will sign an executive order to inventory and protect old-growth forests while visiting Seattle later Friday.
The order requires the Department of the Interior and Department of Agriculture to come up with a shared definition of mature and old-growth forests and gives them a year to take stock of their numbers in the U.S. After collecting that data, the agencies must come up with new policies to manage and conserve these wooded areas, with an eye towards threats like wildfires.
The carbon stored by forests, harvested wood products, and urban trees offsets around 14% of carbon released each year in the U.S., according to a 2020 Forest Service report. Older, wider trees tend to store more carbon, although there is some scientific debate over how much carbon they continue to take out of the atmosphere as they age…
Federal agencies must press ahead with climate-saving choices for mature forests
Science has made clear the value of public forests in capturing carbon, helping the environment
By Lauren Anderson
Oregon Capital Chronicle – March 7, 2022
Oregon has had to contend with some serious climate impacts in recent years, from life threatening heat waves to ice storms that left thousands without power for days.
Persistent drought, wildfires, and changing precipitation patterns have also placed our most vulnerable communities at risk. Given how dire the situation is becoming, it is critical that we use every tool in the toolbox to prevent future climate impacts from becoming worse.
While Oregon has made real progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, emissions reductions alone are not enough. We must also pull a significant amount carbon dioxide from of the atmosphere and there is currently no technology that can do this at the scale that is needed. Luckily, our oldest, simplest, and most-cost effective climate solutions – forests – have yet to be fully utilized to combat climate change.
The Elliott’s Potentially Peaceful Future
New bill would decouple the Elliott State Forest from the Common School Fund and create new research forest
By Clayton Franke
Eugene Weekly – February 24, 2022
Francis Eatherington’s iPad slides across the dash of her Subaru as she swings the car onto the 7700 road in the Elliott State Forest. The tablet is full of downloadable maps of past timber sales, some she stopped, some she didn’t. Cobwebs in the corner of the dash light up as sunlight beams through the windshield. She stops the car in the middle of the road and pulls out a paper map littered with swatches of blue, pink and yellow and a web of logging roads.
“It’s kind of like a plate of spaghetti,” she says of the map.
The graveled forest roads weave through the Elliott — 82,000 acres of clearcuts, timber plantations and native old growth forests just south of the Siuslaw National Forest in Oregon’s Coast Range. Eatherington, the former conservation director at Cascadia Wildlands, knows the roads well from her work fighting old growth timber harvests and protecting endangered species habitat.
The Elliott has been one of the battlegrounds for Oregon’s “timber wars,” with decades of conflict surrounding forest ownership and timber harvest revenue. But a new bill in the Oregon Legislature could resolve the conflict and pave the way for other agreements between historically disparate groups…
How Beavers Boost Stream Flows
After seeing how beavers helped Birch Creek flow again, Idaho rancher Jay Wilde has inspired hundreds of people to try beaver-assisted stream restoration.
By Brianna Randall
The National Wildlife Federation Blog – January 8, 2022
Thirteen years ago, Idaho rancher Jay Wilde sat in his kitchen sipping coffee before dawn. As the caffeine kicked in, he was once again pondering why the stream running through his ranch had stopped flowing.
It suddenly hit him: “Beavers! That’s what’s missing.”
When Wilde was growing up on the ranch, Birch Creek had flowed year-round. He used to spend summers fishing for trout and swimming in the ponds created by beaver dams. But Wilde hadn’t seen beavers or their dams since 1995, when he moved back to take over the ranch from his parents.
“I began researching the role of beaver, and learned that for a watershed to be healthy, there needs to be beavers there,” says Wilde.
Beavers are some of nature’s best engineers. They gnaw down trees to create intricate dams and lodges as their shelter. In turn, their dams act to slow the flow of a stream, creating ponds that act like a piggy-bank that stores water for the ecosystem…
Grizzlies in the Cascades? Lawsuit seeks to reverse shutdown of bear recovery program
In 2020 the Department of the Interior kiboshed a long-running grizzly restoration study. Its authors and supporters still want answers
By Jordan Rane
Columbia Insight – January 13, 2022
In 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service and Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee—a cross-agency organization spearheading conservation of the threatened species in six designated wilderness areas across the Northwest—launched a program aimed at studying the possible restoration of grizzlies in one of their most decimated yet still viable habitats in North America: Washington’s North Cascades.
The Grizzly Bear Restoration Plan for the North Cascades Ecosystem—which began with a multi-year environmental impact study—was more or less unprecedented. Its intent was to study the feasibility of transplanting the iconic bear into a vast wildland situated between farms, ranches, rural communities and large coastal cities.
In 2020, however, the expansive study was suddenly and unexpectedly terminated by the U.S. Department of the Interior.
Aside from citing local opposition to the federal program, then Interior Secretary David Bernhardt provided no concrete explanation for the decision to end the program…
The Uncivil War on Wolves Must End
Wolves once again need federal protection
By Stephen Capra
Changing America – January 13, 2022
Last year, the nation witnessed an attack on our nation’s capital, it is etched in our mind for the shock that is was, American citizens attacking a sacred place and stealing and bringing harm to the capitol police. It was a low point for our democracy. Such low points are spreading across our country, no place is this clearer than the boundaries of our nation’s most sacred National Park — Yellowstone. For it is here, that wolves have become another part of our country’s tribal divide.
If you are going to visit Yellowstone, perhaps one of the most important reasons is to see wolves in the wild. People come from across the globe spending large amounts of money for the chance to see them. On any given day Lamar Valley will host long lines of cars and people staring across the landscape looking for movement and a chance to see Canis lupus in the wild.
Yet over the past year, the governor of our state, a trapper and avid predator killer, Greg Gianforte, has made clear he does not care about tourism, he does not care that wolves bring much needed economic relief to our state (numbers show close to 60 million a year), instead he has led the way by killing a collared wolf Max last spring on the border of Yellowstone. Long known for his bully tendencies, Gianforte seems all too impressed with trappers and longs to satisfy their every need. Using his newly appointed Game Commission he removed protections from the borders of Yellowstone, which has resulted this year in the killing of more wolves than any year since their reintroduction, more than 20 as of last count. The entire Phantom Lake pack of 13 has been destroyed by hunters…
Infrastructure spending should not facilitate sawing down our National Forests
By Carole King, Opinion Contributor
The Hill – January 11, 2022
The already-enacted bipartisan infrastructure bill allocated billions of dollars to facilitate logging in our national forests, with scant public awareness of those provisions. The House-passed Build Back Better bill contains similar sections.
Over 200 U.S. climate scientists and ecologists oppose those logging provisions.
As negotiations resume, lawmakers could achieve compromise by excluding sections providing billions more for “restoration,” “fuel reduction,” “forest health,” and other euphemisms for commercial logging.
Removing those provisions would free up money to extend the child tax credit, which families have been putting back into the economy through buying food, gas, toilet paper, medicines, and shoes for growing children, among other necessities.
But the cost of logging on public land is not just money. Logging releases more than 723 million tons of carbon a year, which accelerates climate change and destroys wildlife habitat, which hastens the extinction of species….
Judge halts logging on wildfire-scarred forest in Oregon
By AP Staff
OPB – December 5, 2021
A federal judge has halted U.S. Forest Service plans to log part of the Willamette National Forest burned by last summer’s wildfires after a lawsuit filed by environmentalists.
The ruling Friday by U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken comes after Cascadia Wildlands and Oregon Wild sued to stop the logging near Breitenbush Hot Springs and Detroit Lake, the Statesman Journal reported.
The groups allege the Forest Service modified logging contracts — which were focused on thinning green trees and doing prescribed burns — to include logging fire-charred trees without going through the proper environmental review process.
Opinion: To achieve Glasgow's climate goals, end old-growth logging at home
By Rebecca White
Register Guard – November 27, 2021
After two weeks of often tense negotiations, the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow have concluded. What remains is to make sense of the commitments the United States, and the international community, made to avert the worst impacts of the climate crisis.
The short answer: not enough. Climate plans submitted by 151 nations would limit warming to 2.5 degrees Celsius. But to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, scientists predict we must keep warming to under 1.5 degrees, which requires cutting worldwide carbon emissions in half by the end of this decade.
That’s a tall order.
Nations will gather again in 2022 to submit stronger emissions-reduction targets. In the meantime, the major emitters, including the U.S., must ramp up fossil fuel emissions cuts. Additional measures require signatories to curb the potent greenhouse gas methane, as well as phase out fossil fuel subsidies and "phase down" coal use…
Groups tell Biden administration: Don’t forget the forests
Letter from environmental organizations urges president to include older and mature trees in his climate plans
For Immediate Release
Thursday, October 28, 2021
WASHINGTON -- As the Biden administration prepares to attend the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland, 128 environmental groups delivered a letter to the White House asking that the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management stop the logging of older forests and trees on public lands. The correspondence specifically asks for this commitment to be part of the United States’ larger climate goals.
Link between native forest logging and bushfires prompts calls for rethink of forest management
By Alexandra Humphries
ABC News - October 5, 2021
There is growing pressure on the Tasmanian government to rethink its native forest management practices, after new University of Tasmania research found regenerating forests are more prone to high-severity bushfires than mature forests.
The study focused on Tasmanian eucalyptus forest, aiming to assess how fire danger changes as forests mature, to help predict bushfire behaviour.
Wildfire ecologist James Furlaud said the study found fire risk in older forests was much lower than in young forests, and clear-felling — the practice of removing all trees from a coupe — could increase fire risk.
Opinion: Oregonians are too smart to buy Big Timber’s climate greenwashing
By Rebecca White
The Register Guard – September 25, 2021
I recently steeled myself to take a good look at the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. Prepared by hundreds of volunteer scientists from around the world, its findings are dire.
Our world is on track to exceed Paris Agreement limits, ensuring a rising toll on human life and wildlife. We still have time to act, but the hour is late, and we can no longer take part in such pointless activities as debating and deflecting polluter misinformation campaigns. Many of the worst predictions of earlier IPCC reports have already occurred in the Pacific Northwest. Unprecedented wildfire, drought and heatwaves this year alone have transformed climate change from an academic issue to one with devastatingly direct impacts…
A legal pillar of environmental justice is now under attack
By James Goodwin and Rob Verchick
The Hill – Sept. 1, 2021
A legal pillar of environmental justice is now under attack
A few weeks ago, the Army Corps of Engineers made a startling announcement: It would give Sharon Lavigne and her neighbors in St. James Parish, La., a chance to tell their stories. The fact one of the world’s largest chemical companies has fought for years to keep Lavigne quiet tells you how commanding her stories are. Those stories may stop this particular company from building a multi-billion dollar chemical plant surrounding her neighborhood.
For this, we can thank a simple law, signed by President Nixon in 1970, called the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Unlike other environmental laws, NEPA doesn’t tell agencies what choices they must make — like where to erect a levee or whether to permit a plastics plant. But it does insist their choices be informed. So, before the Army Corps can approve a company’s wetlands development permit it has to study whatever effects that chemical plant might have on the health of people in that community and on the properties they own.
One critical way that agencies like the Army Corp learn about such effects is by giving people — particularly local residents a chance to share their concerns in their own words. You don’t need a degree in law or chemistry to have a say, although sometimes it takes a dose of courage. It’s not easy to speak or write publicly about having to cook with tainted tap water, visiting with neighbors on a foul-smelling porch, or dreading some rare cancer that’s been associated with your zip code. As far as NEPA is concerned, those stories are just as important as ones that global chemical companies have to tell…
Logging in disguise: How forest thinning is making wildfires worse
The U.S. Forest Service clears trees from public lands in the name of fire prevention, but it doesn’t work. There are better strategies to protect communities, but don’t expect to hear about them from the logging industry.
By Chad Hanson
Fix Solutions Labs – August 24, 2021
Earlier this month, the Dixie Fire leveled most of the town of Greenville, California. I know the town well — I conducted fieldwork for my doctoral dissertation there. Thankfully, everyone survived. But the downtown is gone, along with 75 percent of the homes.
It didn’t need to happen.
Fire has always been a concern for communities like Greenville in the northern Sierra Nevada mountains. And, for decades, the U.S. Forest Service and the timber industry told the townspeople that logging tens of thousands of acres — under the guise of “thinning” — would create “fuel breaks” to slow or even stop wildfires and prevent flames from reaching Main Street…
Old-Growth Defenders Have a Formidable Ally in Suzanne Simard
By Sid Tafler
The Tyee – August 11, 2021
Suzanne Simard grew up in a province home to ancient forests. Now 60, she laments that B.C. has become a province of clearcuts, with only remnants of old growth left.
On Sunday, she flew by helicopter from Port Renfrew on southern Vancouver Island to the disputed Fairy Creek area, diverting north to pass over Caycuse, an old-growth watershed recently clear cut after forest protectors were evicted by the RCMP.
“The clear cutting is disgraceful,” she told The Tyee Monday as she sat by the windows of a friend’s waterfront home in Saanich. “It looks like a war zone.” Whole hillsides have been scalped and once majestic ancient trees reduced to gaping stumps…
Key takeaways from the new IPCC report
Higher confidence, compounded extremes – and high seas that will persist for millennia.
By Bob Henson
Yale Climate Connections – August 9, 2021
A hellish northern summer laced with deadly heat waves, perilous floods, and massive wildfires may be just a preview of coming attractions, according to a blockbuster new assessment from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The assessment lays out how the planet’s air, oceans, and ice are pushing relentlessly into new territory.
Eight years of research from more than 14,000 papers have been telescoped into the exhaustive new report, part of the sixth comprehensive assessment in the IPCC’s 33-year history.
The report finds that Earth is on the doorstep of the much-discussed 1.5°C threshold, more likely than not to be reached by 2040. The hazards of compound impacts – such as heat and drought together – have risen to new prominence since the last assessment, and the risks of cataclysmic tipping points continue to loom.
“Unless there are immediate, rapid, and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to 1.5°C will be beyond reach,” said Ko Barrett, senior advisor for climate for NOAA’s Office of Atmospheric Research and one of three IPCC vice-chairs, in a press briefing on Sunday, August 8…
The Bootleg Fire grew fast. Did forest management play a role?
By Erik Neumann
OPB – July 25, 2021
Since it started on July 6, 2021, the Bootleg Fire has been characterized by its size and speed. Miles of forest land has burned each day. At over 400,000 acres, it’s Oregon’s third largest wildfire since 1900. In recent weeks firefighters have had to retreat multiple times as embers crossed containment lines and hot, dry and windy weather made fighting the fire impossible.
The footprint of the Bootleg Fire includes a history of commercial logging, thinning, clear cutting, prescribed fire and other intensive management practices, according to Bryant Baker, conservation director of Santa Barbara, California, nonprofit Los Padres ForestWatch. Baker says those management activities contributed to the fire’s spread. One example, he says, is when it burned into the U.S. Forest Service’s Black Hills Ecosystem Restoration Project.
“Essentially the fire burned through these areas really quickly,” Bryant says. “So, the fire in its initial rapid growth burned right through these pretty expansive areas of commercial thinning and prescribed fire and did not seem to slow down…”
Oregon Approves Petition to Increase Marbled Murrelet Endangered Species Protection
For Immediate Release, July 9, 2021
SALEM, Ore.— The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission today approved a petition filed by five conservation groups to give marbled murrelets more protection by reclassifying them from threatened to endangered under the state’s Endangered Species Act. The 4-3 decision comes two years after an Oregon judge ruled that the commission had violated state law by denying the petition without explanation in 2018.
“We’re relieved that after so many missteps, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission will finally move forward with extending marbled murrelets the full protection of endangered status under state law,” said Quinn Read, Oregon policy director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “These unique birds face serious threats in Oregon from climate change, ocean warming, wildfire, and unchecked logging of their nesting habitat and should have been protected as endangered years ago.”
Oregon lawmakers set out to increase the timber industry’s tax bill. Instead, they cut it again
By Tony Schick
OPB – June 29, 2021
Oregon lawmakers pledged to increase taxes on the timber industry and rein in its influence during this year’s legislative session. Instead, they handed the companies an unexpected gift — another tax break.
As the session wrapped last week, lawmakers gutted the remaining $15 million annual harvest tax paid by timber companies for cutting down trees. The move eliminated about $9 million in annual revenue that helps fund Oregon State University’s forestry research and the Department of Forestry’s enforcement of state logging laws. Money for the programs will temporarily come from the state’s general fund, forcing the costs onto taxpayers…
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…
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…"
“The forests are in trouble. Earth’s climate is collapsing. The ABCFP and many of its members are complicit in this trouble.”
By Herb Hammond
The Green Alliance - November 23,2022
Dear President Mierau and Council Members, Association of BC Forest Professionals (ABCFP):
By way of this letter, I resign my membership in the ABCFP.
I no longer wish to be part of an organization that alleges to “care for BC’s forest and forest lands,” while remaining silent about the degradation and frequent destruction of natural forest integrity and resilience perpetrated by the vast majority of forestry activities. I will provide examples of these endemic problems below.
The ABCFP spends more time worrying about what title people involved in forest management do or do not use than providing standards and oversight of activities to protect forest integrity and resilience. The constant reminder, under threat of fines and potential incarceration, to retired forest professionals that they are not permitted to practice forestry, even to provide advice, is a specific example of this problem. In many aspects of societies retired people are viewed as sources of wisdom to be consulted and listened to as a way of reaching sound conclusions that protect the public interest and the ecosystems that sustain them.
It’s the public’s turn to weigh in on turning Oregon’s Elliott State Forest into a vast, ‘living laboratory’
By Monica Samayoa
OPB – November 20, 2022
A proposal to convert a money-losing state forest into what’s being touted as a world-class outdoor research lab is moving forward.
The current phase in the ongoing process of reinventing the Elliott State Forest in southwestern Oregon — turning to the public for input — will come to a close at the end of the month.
The Department of State Lands had initially set a Nov. 13 deadline for public comment on Oregon State University’s draft proposal for the Elliott State Research Forest, but recently extended it to Nov. 29.
The Elliott has been going through an intensive undertaking for several years as state officials and stakeholders — especially conservationists, timber companies, and scientists — wrestle over what its best use should be. The latest plan for the 80,000-acre southwestern Oregon forest is to decouple it from the Common School Fund and create better forest management rules including public access to the forest and continue habitat conservation planning while allowing timber harvesting…
Time to stop counting forest biomass as ‘renewable energy’
Editorial by Mary S. Booth
Euractiv-Nov 16, 2022
Phasing out forest biomass as ‘renewable energy’ would yield massive benefits in terms of air pollution and climate protection, writes Mary S. Booth. To sweeten the deal, the EU should suspend fines for countries missing their renewable energy target as a consequence of efforts made, she suggests.
Mary S. Booth is the director of the Partnership for Policy Integrity (PFPI), a non-profit group.
Policymakers at COP27 are trying to advance last year’s commitments to end global deforestation. But even as they support such efforts, some EU policymakers are seeking to water down a weak – yet still important – proposal by the European Parliament that would protect forests within the EU, by disqualifying energy from burning trees and other forest biomass from counting as renewable energy.
The forest products industry obviously has the ear of key policymakers in opposing reforms. Now, thanks to an open letter from forestry scientists and practitioners, we can see what arguments they’ve been making.
What emerges is a disturbing picture of an industry that deploys dangerous misinformation, mirroring the worst trends in political tactics today. The contempt for science – and nature – evinced by the forestry letter is alarming enough, but the letter and associated lobbying come just as EU institutions are negotiating the EU’s biomass policy in the Trilogue on the Renewable Energy Directive…
Whaleback Pack Delivers California’s Largest Known Wolf Litter in Over 100 Years
The Whaleback Pack, living in Northern California’s Siskiyou County, delivered a historic litter of pups in 2022. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife confirmed the pack added 8 pups this year, the largest known litter of wolf pups in over 100 years.
The Whaleback Pack now sits at 10 known wolves after the male gray wolf, dubbed OR-85, mated with the female for the second time in two years. With the wolf pack delivering 15 pups in just two years of living in NorCal, they now sit as a crucial part of the controversial reintroduction of wolves in the state.
The Whaleback Pack is joined by just two other known wolf packs in California, the Lassen Pack and Beckwourth Pack. The Lassen Pack currently sits at approximately 12 wolves, while the Beckwourth Pack is around 2 to 3 wolves. It was recently confirmed that the breeding male of the Beckwourth Pack was born in the Lassen Pack, and is a potential great grandson of the trailblazing OR7, who was the first known wolf in the state in over 100 years.
Forest advocates knock out massive Trump post-fire logging loophole
This month, conservation groups finalized a legal agreement with the Bureau of Land Management to reverse a Trump-era rule excluding vastly more logging in post-fire landscapes from detailed environmental review. The agreement resolves a legal challenge the groups brought against the agency in October, 2021.
“Categorical exclusions” allow agencies to approve actions having minimal environmental effects without detailed environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act. The Trump rule increased the maximum area for categorical exclusions permitting logging of “dead or dying trees” from 250 acres to 3,000 acres—a 1,200% increase. The rule also doubled the maximum amount of permitted road construction from one-half to one mile of permanent road. The previous categorical exclusion rule required those roads to be temporary. The Bureau will now engage in rulemaking to remove the categorical exclusion language from its NEPA implementing procedures and revert to the old guidance. In the meantime, BLM will refrain from using the categorical exclusion.
Trees Help Protect the Planet From Climate Change. But The World Isn’t Doing Enough to Protect Forests
By Jennifer Fergesen
Time – October 18, 2022
People breathe out carbon dioxide, trees breathe in carbon dioxide. It’s one of the first things children learn about the carbon cycle, the paths carbon takes as it moves among the living and nonliving things that make up the planet. That might be part of the reason trees and forests have long been a focal point of the carbon sequestration conversation. Dozens of companies have committed to planting and protecting trees as part of their efforts to counteract greenhouse gas emissions, and by 2030 the Trillion Trees Campaign is aiming to increase the number of trees in the world by one third.
Tree planting sounds great and makes for striking photo-ops of CEOs and presidents turning soil with golden shovels—and there’s compelling evidence that both new trees and existing forests can help bring down the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. But trees’ and forests’ role in global warming is more complex than it may seem. Anyone hoping to harness the power of trees in the fight against global warming needs to appreciate that complexity…
Wetlands Protections at Stake in Supreme Court Arguments Monday
Bloomberg Law - September 30, 2022
The future of federal jurisdiction over waters and wetlands under the Clean Water Act hinges on a watershed US Supreme Court case scheduled for oral arguments Monday—the first case on the high court’s fall docket.
Protections for countless wetlands and ephemeral streams nationwide are being debated in Sackett v. EPA, which grapples with whether a long-standing test for federal jurisdiction over tributaries to large streams and rivers is constitutional.
The court is widely expected to narrow the definition of waters under federal jurisdiction—known as waters of the US, or WOTUS—under the Clean Water Act.
The case will dictate the ability of developers to build in wetlands that are not permanent standing or flowing bodies of water and have no direct surface connection with large rivers or lakes, said Melissa Reynolds, an associate at Holland & Hart LLP in Salt Lake City…
Why mature and old forests are so important for climate mitigation and adaptation
By Beverly E. Law AND William H. Schlesinger
The Hill - August 23, 2022
The United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) indicates that we must substantially reduce emissions from burning fossil fuels and simultaneously increase removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by land and ocean reservoirs.
A recent executive order recognizes the importance of mature and old-growth forests in limiting climate change and makes their conservation a national policy. It also sets ambitious goals for the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM), including “to conserve our mature and old-growth forests on Federal lands and restore the health and vibrancy of our Nation’s forests...”
Rejoining a landscape: Southern Oregon coalition moves forward with I-5 wildlife crossings
By Juliet Grable
OPB – August 2, 2022
One morning in late March, Charlie Schelz, an ecologist with the Bureau of Land Management, hiked across a steel railroad bridge that spans Interstate 5 near Siskiyou Summit, four-and-a-half miles from the Oregon-California border. Gravel crunched under his feet as a ceaseless river of cars and trucks roared below. At the end of the bridge, Schelz set down his backpack and unlocked the cable that secured a trail camera to a tree.
“Let’s see what we’ve got,” said Schelz, popping out the memory card. It contained 51 video clips. He clicked through them.
“There’s a deer…another deer, a train,” he said, scrolling. “There’s a guy walking his dog — I see him every day. There’s one, two, three, four deer, heading east.”
Schelz has set up nearly a dozen such cameras along wildlife trails near drainage culverts and vehicle bridges that pass over and under I-5. By monitoring these sites, which span from Neil Creek just outside of Ashland to the California border, he hopes to better understand which animals are using existing corridors to safely traverse the busy highway…
Five wolf pups photographed in Oregon could represent a new pack
By Todd Milbourn (OPB)
July 21, 2022 11:31 a.m.
Researchers have snapped a photo of an adult wolf with five pups roaming the Oregon wilderness and say it could represent the establishment of a new wolf pack in the state.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife captured the image July 4 in the Upper Deschutes Wildlife Management Unit, which spans Deschutes and Klamath counties.
ODFW had been monitoring the area after members of the public reported wolf sightings to the agency. Earlier this year, tracks of four wolves were found in the area. Since then, researchers have been trying to figure out whether the wolves represent a new pack or are wolves from the Indigo Pack to the south.
Ecologists say federal wildfire plans are dangerously out of step with climate change
NPR - July 3, 2022
The federal Government Accountability Office (GAO) is launching an investigation after U.S. Forest Service-controlled burns that escaped caused the largest wildfire ever recorded in New Mexico.
The GAO is examining controlled burn policies at the Forest Service and other federal land agencies.
On May 20, USFS Chief Randy Moore halted all so-called prescribed fires on its land for a 90-day safety review. The New Mexico fire has burned more than 340,000 acres and is still not fully contained.
But many fire ecologists and forestry experts are concerned that this "pause" is only worsening the wildfire risk. Critics say it's merely masking the agency's dangerously incremental, outdated and problematic approach to intentional burns and fire mitigation, a policy that has failed to adapt to climate change and megadrought…
Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon hits record for first half of 2022
By Jake Spring and Bruno Kelly
Reuters – July 8, 2022
Manaus, Brazil, July 8 (Reuters) - Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon rainforest reached a record high for the first six months of the year, as an area five times the size of New York City was destroyed, preliminary government data showed on Friday.
From January to June, 3,988 square km (1,540 square miles) were cleared in the region, according to national space research agency Inpe.
That's an increase of 10.6% from the same months last year and the highest level for that period since the agency began compiling its current DETER-B data series in mid-2015…
Legal Warning Challenges Plan to Log Thousands of Acres of Oregon’s Old-Growth Forest
Massive Logging Plan Threatens Coastal Martens, Marbled Murrelets
Cascadia Wildlands – July 5, 2022
MEDFORD, Ore. — A coalition of Oregon conservation organizations notified the Bureau of Land Management today it intends to sue the agency to protect marbled murrelets and coastal martens from a plan by the agency to log thousands of acres of old-growth forest in areas designated as late-successional reserves. The reserves were designated as part of the Northwest Forest Plan to protect the two threatened species, as well as hundreds of others.
“The Bureau’s plans to remove thousands of acres of old-growth forests from late-successional reserves in southern Oregon is a death sentence for wildlife that are on the brink of extinction,” said Nick Cady, legal director for Cascadia Wildlands.
The Bureau’s “Integrated Vegetation Management Project” proposes using a wide array of activities, including commercial logging across 17,000 acres including mature and old-growth forest that would destroy habitat for threatened and endangered species…
Logging is Destroying Southern Forests – and Dividing US Environmentalists
More than 150 conservation, environmental, and social justice organizations have accused The Nature Conservancy of “promoting false climate solutions.”
By Christopher Ketchum
Grist – June 29, 2022
In the fight against climate change, the $300-billion U.S. logging and woods products industry has positioned itself as a purveyor of “natural climate solutions.” The idea is intuitive: Trees are the ultimate renewable resource. After they are cut they can be replanted, absorbing carbon once again as they mature.
Wood energy succored Homo sapiens and its ancestors for millions of years, the argument goes, and only during the last couple of centuries was it replaced with fossil fuels like coal. As our civilization begins the slow process of jettisoning fossil energy, logging interests assure us that wood products are not a retrogression but a way forward. The industry claims that forests that are felled sustainably — for construction, say, or for burning to produce electricity in utility-scale power plants — can provide jobs and energy, stimulate the economy, and even reduce society’s net carbon emissions.
A timber sale in Oregon tests Biden’s pledge to protect older trees
By Anna Phillips
June 15, 2022
Not far from the town of McKenzie Bridge, Ore., on the western slope of the Cascades, stand towering groves of trees that have survived more than a century of wind, fire, insects and disease. To Jerry Franklin, long-considered one of the foremost authorities on old-growth forests in the Pacific Northwest, this landscape of mature Douglas-fir and western hemlock is thriving and, most significantly, removing evermore carbon from the atmosphere.
That is not what the Forest Service sees. Too many trees in this corner of the Willamette National Forest are competing for water and sunlight, and some are dying, agency officials say.
Now the service is preparing to auction off these woodlands as early as next year as part of a timber sale, called Flat Country, that targets nearly 4,500 acres. Conservation groups that have analyzed the project say the vast majority of the lumber the agency intends to cut would come from stands of trees ranging in age from 80 to 150 years old.
We can’t wait to protect old forests
By Norman Christensen, PH.D., AND Jerry Franklin, PH.D.
The Hill – June 8, 2022
On Earth Day 2022, President Biden signed an Executive Order for actions to capitalize on the ability of forests — especially mature and old-growth forests — to combat climate change. We applaud this action, but the Biden administration now needs to follow through and adopt durable, science-based forest conservation measures.
Biden’s executive order seeks to conserve mature and old-growth forests on federal lands, curb global deforestation and deploy nature-based solutions that reduce emissions and build resilience to a rapidly warming planet. More specifically, the order directs the Departments of Agriculture and Interior to inventory existing mature and old-growth forests nationwide, identify threats and develop climate-smart conservation policies to address those threats…
Town hall explores local options around sustainability and climate change
By Damien Sherwood
Cottage Grove Sentinel – May 17, 2022
Cottage Grove’s first Climate Action Town Hall took place on Saturday (May 14) in the Cottage Grove Armory, bringing together community members, public officials and other local entities to participate in a forum about climate change and local resiliency plans.
The event, hosted by the groups Climate Action Cottage Grove, EcoGeneration, Forest Web and Sustainable Cottage Grove, included speakers, information booths and discussion sessions.
“I was really pleased with the events and we had a respectable showing of the community,” said Rob Dickinson, a co-organizer of the town hall event.
Along with participation from the City of Cottage Grove, a number of local organizations turned out on Saturday.
Lane Transit District (LTD), EPUD, Citizens’ Climate Lobby, 350 Eugene, Elders Climate Action, Forest Web, Sustainable Cottage Grove, and EcoGeneration all had representation and provided information at the event. The town hall was also attended by Cottage Grove city councilors Greg Ervin and Mike Fleck as well as Mayor Jeff Gowing and Public Works and Development Director Faye Stewart…
Oregon Court of Appeals overturns $1.1 billion verdict against state over management of forests
By Ted Sickinger| The Oregonian/OregonLiv
The Oregon Court of Appeals on Wednesday erased a $1.1 billion verdict against the state over its management of state forests, determining the Department of Forestry and its policy-setting board are not obligated to maximize timber harvests and associated payments to counties where the forests are located.
The state appealed the verdict on 28 alleged legal errors before and during a 2019 trial in Linn County, but the appeals court based its decision on just one. Its ruling said that specific language in the Forest Acquisition Act of 1941 did not constitute a contract between the state and the counties to maximize revenues from timber harvests. The trial court, it said, erred by failing to grant the state’s original motion to dismiss the lawsuit on that basis.
In-depth Q&A: The IPCC’s sixth assessment on how to tackle climate change
IPCC – April 5, 2022
Limiting global warming to 1.5C or 2C would mean “rapid and deep” emissions reductions in “all sectors” of the global economy, says the latest report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Instead, emissions have continued to rise – albeit at a slowing rate – and it will be “impossible” to stay below 1.5C with “no or limited overshoot” without stronger climate action this decade, says the new document, which forms part of the IPCC’s sixth assessment report (AR6).
It outlines how these emissions cuts could be achieved, including “substantial” reductions in fossil fuel use, energy efficiency, electrification, the rapid uptake of low-emission energy sources – particularly renewables – and the use of alternative energy carriers, such as hydrogen…
Legislature preserves Elliott State Forest for research, public use
By Rachel McDonald
KLCC – March 4, 2022
This week, Oregon lawmakers approved a bill that establishes the Elliott State Research Forest on more than 82,000 acres in the coast range near Coos Bay.
The Elliott is a unique tract of coastal forest originally meant to generate logging revenue for Oregon’s K-12 schools. Conservation groups and others long worked to halt that practice and keep the forest intact.
Josh Laughlin, Executive Director of Cascadia Wildlands in Eugene said Senate Bill 1546 preserves the forest for education and research
“Which will have these incredible benefits for clean water and carbon storage and habitat for imperiled species,” he said. “But most important it delinks school funding from clear cutting old growth forests. That was the goal that we set out to achieve about 20 years ago...”
OSU research suggests Forest Service lands not the main source of wildfires affecting communities
By Steve Lundeberg
Oregon State University - February 15, 2022
Research led by Oregon State University shows that fires are more likely to burn their way into national forests than out of them.
The findings contradict the common narrative of a destructive wildfire igniting on remote public land before spreading to threaten communities, said Chris Dunn of the OSU College of Forestry.
The study, which looked at more than 22,000 fires, found that those crossing jurisdictional boundaries are primarily caused by people on private property.
It also showed that ignitions on Forest Service lands accounted for fewer than 25% of the most destructive wildfires – ones that resulted in the loss of more than 50 structures.
The Silent E: The Extinction of Experience and Empathy
The loss of biodiversity around the planet comes with very human costs, I tell the hosts of The Silent Why podcast.
By John R. Platt
The Revelator - January 24, 2022
What do we lose when we lose species? And how can we turn grief into action?
As I discuss on a recent episode of The Silent Why — a podcast exploring 101 different types of grief and loss — the extinction crisis affecting this planet sometimes feels overwhelming. It can fill us with dread while it robs the world of wonder, culture and connections. Extinction leaves the world a little less amazing, and we’re all a little poorer and sadder for it.
But sometimes that grief can also drive us, deepen our capacity for empathy, renew our commitment to do better, and encourage us to celebrate life while it still exists. That’s something we can all share when we experience loss, whether it’s the death of a parent or the solastalgia we feel from the decline of nature…
By Jasmine Lewin
Ethos – January 10, 2022
Former firefighter and fire ecologist Tim Ingalsbee positions himself in front of his computer webcam, surrounded by textbooks, Smokey the Bear posters and a large banner with the acronym “FUSEE” printed in bold letters.
He’s getting ready to begin a virtual news conference about logging practices and firefighting strategies, specifically in the context of the West Coast’s recent history of severe and widespread wildfires. The 2020 Oregon wildfire season was one of the most destructive on record in the state, with a catastrophic outcome that killed at least 11 people, destroyed thousands of homes and burned more than 1 million acres of land.
As climate change causes dryer and hotter weather in Cascadia forests, wildfires are only predicted to get more severe in damage and frequency; climate and fire experts working with Oregon State University concluded that Oregon’s recent wildfires are a precursor to what the region will see in the future as the climate warms. Due to the intensification in damage and frequency of these natural disasters, traditional suppressive wildfire prevention methods are being questioned in favor of other, more environmentally friendly strategies.
Forest Service scraps post-fire logging plan in Willamette National Forest
By Bradley W. Parks
OPB – January 14, 2022
The U.S. Forest Service has abandoned a plan to log along more than 400 miles of roads in burnt areas of the Willamette National Forest.
In a written statement issued Wednesday, Willamette National Forest supervisor Dave Warnack said mounting legal costs influenced his decision to withdraw the plan.
“Our work to safely restore public access to areas burned in the 2020 Labor Day fires continues to be top priority,” Warnack said. “Upon withdrawal of this decision, my staff will conduct another review of the purpose and need of this project and will consider a new approach to addressing this important issue.”
The federal agency crafted the plan following the Beachie Creek, Lionshead and Holiday Farm fires of 2020, saying roadside trees killed or injured in the fires posed a safety risk to recreators and motorists.
The plan drew a legal challenge from environmental groups Cascadia Wildlands, Oregon Wild and Willamette Riverkeeper, who argued the plan was a thinly veiled attempt at commercial salvage logging of some 20,000 acres of public lands, and that carrying it out would degrade water quality and wildlife habitat…
Timber company returns NW Washington tidelands to tribe free of cost
By Lynda V. Mapes, The Seattle Times
Dec. 22, 2021, 12:17 p.m.
Port Blakely Companies, a family-owned company with timber operations in the U.S. and New Zealand, has returned 2 miles of waterfront and 125 acres of tidelands on Little Skookum Inlet in Mason County to the Squaxin Island Tribe, at no cost.
The return of the tideland property is part of a growing “Land Back” movement, in which landowners are returning property lost by tribes when white settlers arrived and began colonizing the landscapes where Indigenous people had lived and thrived for thousands of years.
The return of the shoreline restores the tribe’s direct access to Puget Sound, and some of the most productive shellfish beds in the region — the very reasons the tribe had made the land and water home.
Jordan Cove developers abandon plans for pipeline, Coos Bay LNG terminal
By Carisa Cegavske
The Oregonian – December 1, 2021
The developers that had hoped to build the Pacific Connector Pipeline and Jordan Cove Energy Project have told the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission they do not intend to move forward with the project.
The developers filed a brief with FERC Wednesday that announced the decision.
“Among other considerations, Applicants remain concerned regarding their ability to obtain the necessary state permits in the immediate future in addition to other external obstacles,” wrote Donald Sullivan, manager and associate general counsel for Jordan Cove Energy Project and Pacific Connector Pipeline in Wednesday’s brief.
Dozens Risk Arrest to Protest Ongoing Post-fire Logging in Breitenbush Watershed
Cascadia Forest Defenders - November 16, 2021
Community members from across the state defy Forest Service closure order to protest post-fire clearcutting
Detroit, OR – This morning, community organizers defied a closure order and are occupying a road leading to public forest slated for clearcutting in the Willamette National Forest. The organizers are holding a concert and teach-in, discussing the ecology and rich history of the area, and preparing for further actions if logging continues to move forward...
Over 100 global leaders pledge to end deforestation by 2030
By Jake Spring and Simon Jessop
Reuters – November 3. 2021
GLASGOW, Nov 2 (Reuters) - More than 100 global leaders have pledged to halt and reverse deforestation and land degradation by the end of the decade, underpinned by $19 billion in public and private funds to invest in protecting and restoring forests.
The promise, made in a joint statement issued late on Monday at the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow, was backed by the leaders of countries including Brazil, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, which collectively account for 85% of the world's forests.
The Glasgow Leaders' Declaration on Forest and Land Use will cover forests totaling more than 13 million square miles, according to a statement released by the UK prime minister's office on behalf of the leaders…
Lies the Timber Industry Tells
By George Wuerthner
Counterpunch - October 8, 2021
An employee of RY Timber presented misleading commentary in his essay “Forest Service is Right to Restore Forest Health.”
First, keep in mind that the timber industry and forestry profession (both dependents on logging for their employment) have conveniently defined forest health.
For example, the commentator suggests dead beetle-kill lodgepole pine represents an “unhealthy” forest. From the timber industry perspective, he’s correct. Dead trees have little value to the mills.
However, ecologists have found bark beetles are a keystone species that creates many ecological opportunities for plants and animals. The snag forests resulting from either beetles or wildfire have the second-highest biodiversity after old-growth forests…
Willamette National Forest occupiers seek to stop logging
By Zane Sparling
Portland Tribune – September 14, 2021
Eco-activists have scaled several trees — and they aren't coming down, they say — until the Biden Administration halts the planned sale of logging rights in the Willamette National Forest.
Members of Cascadia Forest Defenders say they have built several platforms 100 feet above the canopy in order to deter the planned Flat Country timber auction from going forward.
"They're staying on these platforms for the foreseeable future to keep this space occupied," said Daniel, an organizer for the group, who asked not to use their last name. "If any timber companies buy that sale — they're buying our resistance..."
Judge orders immediate actions at Willamette Basin dams to help salmon, steelhead
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers must begin taking actions to improve passage for chinook salmon and winter steelhead struggling to survive.
By Bradley W. Parks
OPB – Sept. 2, 2021
A federal judge has ordered the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to take immediate action to improve fish passage at dams in the Willamette Basin.
In a final opinion and order issued this week, U.S. District Judge Marco Hernandez said the Corps had for years failed to provide adequate passage for threatened chinook salmon and winter steelhead trout at dams it operates in the basin.
“As evinced by the listed species’ continuing decline, the Corps’ failure to provide adequate fish passage and mitigate water quality issues is causing substantial, irreparable harm to the salmonids,” Hernandez wrote in the opinion.
The order comes a little over a year after the court decided in favor of three environmental organizations that sued the Corps and the National Marine Fisheries Service, arguing the agencies weren’t doing their part to protect the species…
Biden signals plans to uphold Trump administration’s decision to end gray wolf protections
Biden officials say Trump’s call to end wolf protections was a move already years in the making and was the right decision, but say the feds are keeping an eye on a recent surge of pro-wolf killing and trapping laws in some states.
By Carson McCullough
Courthouse News Service – August 20, 2021
The Biden administration is reportedly not walking back the removal of federal protections for gray wolf populations, one of the last major environmental actions of the Trump administration.
After nearly a year of calls to reinstate federal protections for gray wolves under the Endangered Species Act — including a lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife by conservationists aimed at restoring the safeguards — officials say the Biden administration is standing by the decision made by his White House predecessor…
The gift we should give to the living world? Time, and lots of it
By George Monbiot
The Guardian – August 8, 2021
Planting 10 saplings does not replace a twisted old oak. ‘Slow ecology’ is the only way to preserve and restore ancient habitats
We have a slow food movement and a slow travel movement. But we’re missing something, and its absence contributes to our escalating crisis. We need a slow ecology movement, and we need it fast.
The majority of the world’s species cannot withstand any significant disruption of their habitat by humans. Healthy ecosystems depend to a great extent on old and gnarly places, that might take centuries to develop, and are rich in what ecologists call “spatial heterogeneity”: complex natural architecture. They need, for example, giant trees, whose knotty entrails are split and rotten; great reefs of coral or oysters or honeycomb worms; braiding, meandering rivers full of snags and beaver dams; undisturbed soils reamed by roots and holes. The loss of these ancient habitats is one of the factors driving the global shift from large, slow-growing creatures to the small, short-lived species able to survive our onslaughts. Slow ecology would protect and create our future ancient habitats…
Monks Wood Wilderness: 60 years ago, scientists let a farm field rewild – here’s what happened
UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology - July 22, 2021
In the archive of the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology there is a typed note from the 1960s that planted the seed of an idea.
Written by Kenneth Mellanby, director of the Monks Wood Experimental Station, a former research centre in Cambridgeshire, UK, the note describes a four-hectare arable field that lies next to the station and the ancient woodland of the Monks Wood National Nature Reserve. After harvesting a final barley crop, the field was ploughed and then abandoned in 1961.
The note reads:
It might be interesting to watch what happens to this area if man does not interfere. Will it become a wood again, how long will it take, which species will be in it?
So began the Monks Wood Wilderness experiment, which is now 60 years old. A rewilding study before the term existed, it shows how allowing land to naturally regenerate can expand native woodland and help tackle climate change and biodiversity loss…
Audit finds tax funded forest institute in Oregon misled public, may have broken state law
By Tony Schick
OPB – July 21, 2021
The institute operates with broad authority and almost no oversight, undermining its public benefit and credibility, according to the audit released Wednesday by the secretary of state.
Oregon’s tax-funded forest education institute misled the public by presenting a biased view of forestry and might have broken the law by trying to influence policy, a state audit found.
The Oregon Forest Resources Institute, established by lawmakers in 1991 to provide credible public education based on facts and reliable science, operates with broad authority and almost no oversight, undermining its public benefit and credibility, according to the audit released Wednesday by the secretary of state.
Auditors found that the agency “has long engaged in activities that may fall outside of its statutory authority.” They wrote that their findings “reasonably raise the question” of whether OFRI broke the law, which bars the agency from attempting to influence the actions of any other state body. But lawmakers would have to seek a formal legal opinion, the auditors said…
Biden ends large-scale logging on huge Alaska rainforest
PBS News Hour – July 15, 2021
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration said Thursday that it is ending large-scale, old-growth timber sales in the country’s largest national forest — the Tongass National Forest in Alaska — and will focus on forest restoration, recreation and other noncommercial uses.
The U.S. Agriculture Department, which includes the Forest Service, also said it will take steps to reverse a Trump administration decision last year to lift restrictions on logging and road-building in the southeast Alaska rainforest, which provides habitat for wolves, bears and salmon…
The Crumbling Myth of Consequence-Free Intact Forest Loss
By Jenifer Skene
NRDC – June 22, 2021
For decades, an unchecked myth that forests are a renewable resource has permeated how we view, consume, and regulate forests. In international parlance, the very meaning of the word “deforestation” is tied not to the act of cutting down trees, but how the forest is used afterwards: a stump-filled landscape is still deemed a forest if it’s replanted with saplings or allowed to regrow. Instead, companies can downplay their forest impacts with tenuous promises of nature’s capacity to heal and boasts that for every tree their suppliers cut down, they plant one (or even two!) in its stead, as if forests were a machine of discrete, interchangeable parts. It’s a notion based on a mixture of hubris and denial and fueled by corporate profit margins, that somehow we can raze centuries-old forests without consequence. That we can clearcut a forest and have it not even count as deforestation.
But now, that myth is crumbling, with a groundswell of scientists, policymakers, and marketplace leaders raising an urgent alarm about the climate and biodiversity calamities that await if we don’t recognize the irreplaceability of the remaining intact forests we have left.
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.
Feds try to dodge suit over logging plan for Oregon forests
The Bureau of Land Management argued conservationists haven't been injured since the project is in the early stages and no sales to timber companies are imminent.
By Alanna Madden
Courthouse News Service – March 2, 2023
The legal fight over Oregon forests and endangered species continued Thursday, where attorneys for Cascadia Wildland and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management met with U.S. Magistrate Judge Mustafa T. Kasubhai for a phone hearing on the feds' motion to dismiss.
In September 2022, Cascadia Wildland and Oregon Wild sued the bureau for approving a landscape plan within the Siuslaw project area, a bureau-administered forestland west of Eugene, Oregon, authorized for commercial timber harvest.
By issuing an environmental assessment and finding of no significant impact, Cascadia claims the bureau approved decades of logging projects on 13,225 acres across 10 separate watersheds and old-growth forest habitats. Moreover, the group says the plan’s inevitable logging will harm several fish and wildlife species protected under the Endangered Species Act, including northern spotted owls, marbled murrelets and Coho and Chinook salmon.
Yet Cascadia argues the real issue is that despite the project’s large scale and the number of resources disturbed by clearcutting, the government refused to prepare a thorough environmental impact statement and consider the project’s impacts under National Environmental Policy Act. The group also claims the bureau excluded dozens of environmental issues it previously identified from its project analysis “on the grounds that they did not relate to the Siuslaw project’s narrowly defined purpose of timber production...”
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…
Nations Must Link Climate and Nature Crises, or Risk Failing to Address Both
As the U.N. conference on biodiversity begins, participating nations must do what those at the recent climate change conference failed to accomplish: acknowledge the link between the climate and nature crises, setting up governments to take bold action on both.
CAP - December 5, 2022
Off the desert shores of Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, where the 27th U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP27) recently concluded, the Red Sea is teeming with life. Conference-goers who took a break to venture below the waves were rewarded by one of the most biodiverse and potentially resilient reefs in the world—and were reminded of what is at risk if humanity does not immediately address the joint climate and biodiversity crises.
The outcomes from the final COP27 decision text were mixed. There was historic action to establish a dedicated fund for the loss and damage that climate change causes, but commitments and action on mitigation and adaptation fell far short of what is required. Negotiators also missed an important opportunity when they excluded language tying COP27 to the upcoming “biodiversity COP”—the 15th Convention on Biological Diversity Conference of the Parties (COP15), which will take place from December 5 to 17 in Montreal, Canada. There, negotiators are charged with developing a new global biodiversity deal to halt nature loss.
During COP27, some negotiators proposed language for the final text that reflected G-20 leaders’ recent call for a transformative biodiversity framework at COP15, and noted the importance of synergizing the climate and biodiversity conventions. Yet when COP27 drew to a close, the final text failed to mention COP15 or to include much new language on the biodiversity crisis beyond what was already in last year’s Glasgow Climate Pact of COP26...
Oregon’s new Elliott research forest declared North America’s largest
By David Steves
OPB – December 14, 2022
Oregon has what it’s calling North America’s largest research forest, following Tuesday’s decision by top state officials to finalize the redesignation of the Elliott State Forest in southwest Oregon into a place for scientific discovery.
The creation of the 80,000-acre Elliott State Research Forest signals an end to a years-long debate over how to manage a state forest in southwest Oregon that was failing to generate revenue for public education.
The board approved the transition of the Elliott from a traditional state forest to a research site, decoupling the forest from the Common School Fund, which relies on revenue from the sale of timber on state forests, among other resources, to help pay for public education in Oregon.
The Elliott forest will remain in public ownership in collaboration with Oregon State University.
The Elliott provides habitat to dwindling wildlife populations, including salmon, the northern spotted owl and the marbled murrelet. Oregon political leaders have been struggling for decades to find a way for the forest to comply with wildlife protection requirements while continuing to meet a legal obligation that the forest generate revenue for public schools…
Despite Biden’s promises, logging still threatens old forests and U.S. climate goals
Federal agencies continue to move dozens of logging projects forward in federal forests across the United States.
Grist – November 28, 2022
On Earth Day 2022, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to protect important but overlooked partners in the fight against climate change: mature and old-growth forests that sequester carbon, without charging a dime.
It came as a major relief to advocates, after four years of conservation rollbacks and climate science manipulation under President Donald Trump, which encouraged aggressive logging. Mature and old-growth trees provide essential ecosystems for the many organisms living within and beneath them, and protect the water quality of nearby communities, lakes, and streams by preventing erosion. They also fix nitrogen, which improves soil quality and ensures the health of the whole forest.
Due to centuries of logging, most of these older trees are now only found on federal lands. Executive Order 14072 directed the Department of Interior and the Department of Agriculture to define and inventory mature and old-growth forests on federal lands — those having taken generations to develop — and then to craft new policies to protect them.
But in spite of Biden’s recent commitment, federal agencies continue to move dozens of logging projects forward in federal forests across the United States, putting over 300,000 acres at risk, according to a recent report by non-profit group, Climate Forests. Lauren Anderson, climate forest program manager for the conservation group Oregon Wild, said that’s in part due to a glaring omission in the Biden administration’s executive order. “It did not highlight logging as a threat,” Anderson said…
Scientists: Logging in Primary Forests Drives Degradation
By Jennifer Skene
NRDC – November 16, 2022
One year after 145 countries signed onto the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use, pledging an end to deforestation and land degradation, more than 100 scientists from around the world have written to the signatories to dispel one of the most insidious barriers to the Declaration’s success: the myth of the sustainability of industrial logging in primary forests.
In the year since the signing of the Glasgow Declaration at last year’s UN climate conference, the agreement’s promise of global accountability for both deforestation and forest degradation has failed to materialize. The same Global North signatories announcing new measures to address tropical deforestation have continued driving the loss of some of the world’s most climate-critical forests within their own borders, clinging to claims of industrial logging’s sustainability.
Writing to the Glasgow Declaration signatories, more than 100 international scientists, including leading voices such as Dr. Bill Moomaw, Dr. Brendan Mackey, and Dr. Dominick DellaSala, have unequivocally rejected the Global North’s continued abrogation of responsibility. Compliance with the Glasgow Declaration, they make clear, requires ending industrial logging in never-before-logged primary forests. The industrial logging of these forests, they write, “invariably depletes or mars the forest’s original characteristics, no matter the subsequent forest regeneration practices…”
The Climate Solution Standing Right in Front of Us: Mature and Old-Growth Forests
One of the most effective, and largely overlooked, ways we can address the interconnected crises of a warming planet and biodiversity loss is a natural one, standing—literally—right in front of us.