Amid climate crisis, a proposal to save Washington state forests for carbon storage, not logging

By Lynda V. Mapes

Seattle Times - March 21, 2021

CAPITOL STATE FOREST, Thurston County — Older than Washington state, the biggest Douglas firs on this patch of state forestland have stood through more than a century of logging.

Part of a 180-acre timber sale auctioned off for $4.2 million last November by the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR), their next stop was a plywood mill. Then, something unusual happened.

Hilary Franz, state commissioner of public lands, pulled back nearly 40 acres with most of the biggest, oldest trees from the sale.

Now, this timber sale named Smuggler (sales are often whimsically named by state foresters) also is swinging open a door to a broader conversation in Washington, home to the second largest lumber producer in the nation, to rethink the value of trees on state lands not as logs, but as trees to help address the twin crises of species extinction and climate warming…

Op-Ed: The Slippery Slope of Hazard-Tree Logging

by Dylan Plummer, CW Grassroots Organizer

Originally published in The Register-Guard, March 27, 2021.

Pacific Northwest forests are crisscrossed with roads — enough logging roads alone to circle the planet 13 times. Some asphalt, some gravel, some renowned for their scenic vistas and traveled by visitors from around the world, others rarely used, converted to trails or permanently decommissioned. These roads are among the most harmful human impacts to our forests: increasing wildfire risk, releasing sediment into our waterways and chopping up intact habitat into small, degraded remnants.

Wolf-killing bills draw expert opposition

Rob Chaney

Mar 16, 202

A hearing on two controversial wolf-killing bills pitted those who believe state wildlife managers aren’t listening to hunters against those who believe legislators aren’t listening to science.

“The people felt they have not had a voice with the (state Fish and Wildlife) commission,” Sen. Bob Brown, R-Thompson Falls, told the House Fish and Wildlife Committee on Tuesday as he closed debate on SB 267 and SB 314. “That is the attitude, the feeling, the people I represent have. That’s why this legislation comes forward.”

Oregon’s timber industry says it can’t afford new taxes, despite record profits

By Rob Davis

OPB – March 2, 2021

Lobbyists claim the timber industry is “up against the ropes.” Here’s what they’re not saying: Lumber prices are at record highs and profits are soaring.

Thirty years after Oregon lawmakers began giving the state’s timber industry tax cuts that cost rural counties an estimated $3 billion, industry lobbyists warned them not to follow through on efforts to reinstate the tax this year.

Timber tax cuts cost Oregon towns billions. Then clear-cuts polluted their water and drove up the price.

Updated on Jan 01, 2021;

Published on Dec 31, 2020

On a damp night in November 2019, dozens of residents packed into the local firehouse in Corbett, Oregon, a town about 30 miles outside of Portland. Water manager Jeff Busto told the crowd that logging had devastated a creek that provided part of the town’s drinking water supply.

Judge voids permits for Columbia River methanol plant, orders new environmental review

Nov 28, 2020; Posted Nov 24, 2020

A judge on Monday voided permits needed for a massive methanol plant on the Columbia River in southwestern Washington, agreeing with conservation groups that the project needs a more thorough environmental review.

Eastern Oregon trees are playing an outsized role in curbing climate change: study

By Jes Burns

OPB – November 10/ 2020

New research suggests that a U.S. Forest Service proposal to allow the cutting of larger trees on public lands east of the Cascades in Oregon and Washington will have an outsized impact on forest carbon storage in the Pacific Northwest.

The newly-published research is the latest scientific evidence that forests are important buffers of climate change because they remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Large trees are particularly efficient at capturing or “sequestering” carbon in their wood, leaves and roots.

Gray Wolves To Be Removed From Endangered Species List

NPR – October 29, 2020

Gray wolves, a species that has long been vilified and admired, will no longer receive federal protections under the Endangered Species Act in the Lower 48 U.S. states, the Trump administration announced Thursday.

The long-anticipated move is drawing praise from those who want to see the iconic species managed by state and tribal governments, and harsh criticism from those who believe federal protections should remain in place until wolves inhabit more of their historical range.

Misinformation Raging Like Wildfire

by George Wuerthner

The Wildlife News - September 16, 2020

The influence of fire suppression is exaggerated. The idea that there was a “hundred years” of fire suppression ignores the fact that in the early 1920s and 1930s as much as 50 million acres burned annually. Furthermore, climate controls fires, as indicated by the cool, moist decades between the 1940s-1980s. Courtesy of Ralph Bloomer.

Why Planting Trees Won’t Save Us

By Jeff Goodell

Rolling Stone – June 25, 2020

According to a new report this week by the Pew Research Center, Americans have finally come to an agreement about how to solve the climate crisis: by planting trees. A trillion of them. In theory, those trees will suck so much carbon out of the air that we won’t have to worry about installing solar panels or ditching the SUV for an electric car. According to the Pew report, the trillion trees solution is...

Timber 'education' agency oversteps its role

By Mail Tribune Editorial Board

Mail Tribune - September 4, 2020

A state audit of the tax-supported Oregon Forest Resources Institute should provide a long-overdue look at whether the quasi-governmental agency has overstepped its role by illegally attempting to influence policy on behalf of the timber industry. Investigative reporting by Pro Publica, The Oregonian/OregonLive and Oregon Public Broadcasting strongl...

Arborists say ODOT post-fires tree cutting is excessive, rushed

By Cassandra Profita

OPB – April 14, 2021

Critics who worked on state project say it’s removing trees that aren’t actually hazardous

Oregon has a lot of cleanup work to do after more than 1 million acres of land burned in last year’s wildfires.

That cleanup involves removing burned trees near roads and structures that could fall and create safety hazards. But which burned trees are truly hazardous and need to be removed?

More than 20 conservation groups sent a letter Tuesday to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack opposing the post-fire roadside logging proposed or actively being carried out by federal agencies. And a growing number of people are sounding alarms over excessive tree-cutting along scenic highways and protected rivers as the Oregon Department of Transportation and its contractors proceed with plans to cut nearly 300,000 trees deemed as hazardous.

The critics include arborists who have worked on the project and say the reckless tree-cutting operations across the state are being mismanaged and need to be stopped…

The Active Forest Management Scam

By George Wuerthner

Counterpunch - March 18, 2021

There are daily news stories about the recent large wildfires in 2020. In nearly all of these media accounts, almost always attributed to a lack of active forest management. In other words, proponents of logging/thinning forests assert fuel reductions would diminish fire severity. The prevailing assumption is that fuels are the major cause of large blazes.

This chainsaw prescription is all a scam to promote logging.

The Institutional Bias of Forestry School Research

By George Wuerthner

Counterpuch - March 16, 2021

Institutional bias doesn’t just exist in race relationships. The Forest Service and Forestry Schools have been the handmaiden of the timber industry for so long they do not even recognize their own biases.

A good example is a recent announcement by the Oregon State University Forestry School that:...

Oregon Conservation Groups Call For Protection From Post-Fire Logging

By Erik Neumann

KLCC – February 2, 2021

The letter was signed by 38 conservation groups including the Native Fish Society, Sierra Club and Oregon Wild.

Together they’re urging Oregon’s elected officials to halt proposed logging projects on about 10,000 acres of federal lands. The letter singles out areas that burned during the Holiday Farm Fire along the McKenzie River and Archie Creek Fire along the North Umpqua River.

Gray Wolf Recovery and Survival Require Immediate Action by the Biden Administration

by Barbara J. Moritsch

The Relevator – December 11, 2020

Three key measures will go a long way toward ensuring that gray wolves survive and thrive in the lower 48 states.

President-elect Joe Biden will soon step into a tangled web of critical foreign and domestic issues affecting Americans. As his administration begins work to address these complex challenges, issues that affect other species on Earth must not be lost in the shuffle.

Trust Issues: OSU’s Self-Governance Plans for the Elliott State Forest

By Doug Pollock

Friends of OSU Old Growth September 29, 2020

During the Sept. 28th meeting of the Elliott Advisory Committee, OSU staff presented a governance proposal for the Elliott State Research Forest (ESRF) that raised a lot of concerns – which I articulated in my email below. Veteran observers of OSU’s forest management and politics wondered how the Department of State Lands (DSL) and the Oregon Land Board could possibly consider handing over the keys to an ~93,000-acre forest to an institution dominated by timber industry funding and influence. It’s one thing to have OSU researchers help define the research mission of the ESRF, but quite another to give them total control over the implementation.

Public land decisions must be based on science, not convenience

By Kristen Rogers-Iversen, Contributor and Ed Iversen, Contributor

DesertNews - November 6, 2020

The Bureau of Land Management manages much of the land in the West — 245 million acres. Most of this land is arid or semi-arid, and therefore fragile, easily damaged and hard to restore.

The BLM is proposing rules and plans that allow local offices to remove pinyon pine and juniper trees on large swaths of land, without asking for scientific and public input. These management changes would allow the agency to deforest vast areas without even letting the public know ahead of time, and would potentially affect millions of acres across the West.

Tumwater man living in state forest tree to protest timber project

by Drew Mikkelsen

Published: October 9, 2020

THURSTON COUNTY, Wash. — A Tumwater man temporarily living in a tree does not want his identity revealed, but said he is not afraid of being arrested in his attempt to stop a timber project.

“I feel safe and fine, and the legal ramifications? We'll just have to see, I'm not too worried about it,” said the man who is going by the false name of Mr. “Tree” Angelo Barksdale.

He said he’s been living on a piece of plywood, under a tarp, about 75 feet up a Douglas Fir for about a week.

Reporting on timber lobbying prompts Oregon Gov. Kate Brown to call for audit of state institute

By Tony Schick

OPB – September 2, 2020

The Oregon Forest Resources Institute worked to undercut academic research and acted as a lobbying and public relations arm for the timber industry. Now, the governor has asked for an audit.

How We Analyzed Data From Oregon’s Timber Industry

By Tony Schick

OPB – June 11, 2020

Timber helped build Oregon, but, since the 1990s, the state’s western counties have lost thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in annual revenue. For decades, much of the blame for the downturn has been placed on the federal government’s decision to reduce logging in national forests...

Voices: Sorry Secretary Sonny Perdue, our National Forests aren’t crops

By Adam Rissien

Missoula Current  - July  10, 2020

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue flew into Missoula on June 12 to sign a “modernization blueprint” memorandum directing the U.S. Forest Service to essentially double down on its continued push to prioritize logging, mining, drilling and grazing, all while limiting environmental reviews.

Forest Service Agrees to Stop Challenged Logging Project in Mendocino National Forest

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) — The U.S. government has agreed to halt a plan to remove fire-damaged trees on 7,000 acres in a Northern California forest after the Ninth Circuit ruled last year that it should have studied the project’s impact on the environment first.

U.S. District Judge Edward Chen this week approved a settlement with an environmental group who sued to block the logging project in Mendocino National Forest in October 2019. An order approving the settlement was filed Monday but not recorded on the docket until Thursday.

Under the terms of that deal, the U.S. Forest Service will stop moving forward with planned timber sales in six areas of the forest. The service had already allowed private logging companies to cut down trees in about a third of the 7,000-acre area when the Ninth Circuit ordered it to stop the project this past August.

The project was intended to remove trees damaged by the 2018 Ranch Fire, which burned 410,000 acres including 288,000 acres in Mendocino National Forest. It was the largest wildfire in California history until August 2020, when the August Complex Fire burned over 1 million acres — also in Mendocino and five other counties.

The settlement will allow the government to move forward with tree-cutting work in one area of the forest under an M10-Letts Stewardship Agreement. That mostly involves “smaller diameter” trees and vegetation, not larger trees that an environmental group had objected to removing, according to the group’s lawyer, René Voss of Natural Resources Law.

Forest pesticides found downstream in coastal Oregon waters

By Monica Samayoa

OPB – March 17, 2021

Pesticides used on forests and in other applications have been found by researchers in watersheds along the Oregon Coast, raising concerns that aquatic species may be exposed to a toxic mixture of chemicals in the region...

A timber lobbyist called our investigation ‘completely bogus.’ We have the receipts to show it’s not.

By Rob Davis (The Oregonian/OregonLive) and Tony Schick (OPB) March 8, 2021

Lobbyists for the timber industry have repeatedly attacked our investigation, which was based on extensive interviews and a review of thousands of documents. Here’s the evidence to back up the investigation’s major findings.

With the Oregon Legislature taking up bills to overhaul or eliminate the Oregon Forest Resources Institute after a news investigation last August, lobbyists have repeatedly attacked the reporting as incorrect.

Trump Admin Removes Gray Wolves From Endangered Species List Despite 'Meager Numbers'

By Brett Wilkins

EcoWatch – January 5, 2020

Wildlife advocates on Monday accused the Trump administration of "willful ignorance" after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service delisted gray wolves from the Endangered Species Act after 45 years of protection, even though experts say the animals are far from out of the proverbial woods.

First time in years, chinook salmon spawn in upper Columbia River

by Associated Press

Friday, December 18th 2020

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — For the first time in more than a generation, chinook salmon have spawned in the upper Columbia River system. Colville Tribal biologists counted 36 nests along an 8-mile stretch of the Sanpoil River, a tributary of the Columbia, in September.

Colville Tribal member Crystal Conant says at first she was shocked and then overcome with joy.

OSU – Elliott Update

By Doug Pollock

Friends of OSU Old Growth – October 21, 2020

Creating a Positive Future for the Elliott State Research Forest (ESRF): It’s important to be aware of the history and shortcomings of both OSU’s forest management and the Elliott process so we can choose a more positive path going forward. I’ve provided an update on the Elliott process and lots of relevant information in lower half of this post. You can find guidance on what to advocate for and how to do it in the first two sections below…

Historical Lessons of Successful Conservation Movements

B George Wuerthner

Counterpunch – November 3, 2020

We do not want those whose first impulse is to compromise. We want no straddlers, for, in the past, they have surrendered too much good wilderness and primeval areas which should never have been lost.  – Bob Marshall on the founding of the Wilderness Society

There is an unfortunate tendency on the part of conservationists to forget or ignore history. A greater appreciation of past conservation victories as well as defeats can inform current efforts. In far too many cases, there is a tendency to believe that it is necessary to appease local interests typically by agreeing to weakened protections or resource giveaways to garner the required political support for...

Logging Will Do Nothing to Help Us Out of This Mess

By Dominick DellaSala

CounterPunch – September 17, 2020

As I write this, my hometown of Talent, Oregon is a disaster area, and I am in tears over the destruction of my neighborhood. Lives have been forever changed by this tragedy that could have been avoided with better planning.

Our elected officials have neglected to take action on community safety, focusing mostly on backcountry logging projects, and this destruction took place on their watch.

How a public institute in Oregon became a de facto lobbying arm of the timber industry

By Rob Davis

OPB – August 4, 2020

Internal emails show a tax-funded agency created to educate people about forestry has acted as a public-relations agency and lobbying arm for Oregon's timber industry, in some cases skirting legal constraints that forbid it from doing so.

Big Money Bought Oregon's Forests. Small Timber Communities Are Paying The Price.

By Tony Schick

OPB – June 11, 2020

A few hundred feet past the Oregon timber town of Falls City, a curtain of Douglas fir trees opens to an expanse of skinny stumps.

The hillside has been clear-cut, with thousands of trees leveled at once. Around the bend is another clear-cut nearly twice its size, then another, patches of desert brown carved into the forest for miles.