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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…

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…”

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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.”

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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…

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logging on Oregon’s Willamette National Forest

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...

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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…

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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…

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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..."

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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.

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Judge halts post-fire roadside logging on Oregon’s Willamette National Forest

By Bradley W. Parks (OPB)

Bend, Ore. Nov. 5, 2021

 

A federal judge has ordered an immediate stop to a U.S. Forest Service plan to log along more than 400 miles of roads within the Willamette National Forest.

U.S. District Judge Michael McShane said in an order issued Friday that the federal agency overstretched its authority under the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, to effectively log some 20,000 acres of forestland in the name of post-fire road repair.

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A rewilding triumph: wolves help to reverse Yellowstone degradation

By Cassidy Randall

Sat 25 Jan 2020 06.00 EST

 

Twenty-five years ago, the national park attempted to reintroduce wolves – now scientists are celebrating it as one of the greatest rewilding stories ever

Supported by

Twenty-five years ago this month, wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone, America’s first national park and an ecosystem dangerously out of whack owing to the extirpation of its top predator.

This monumental undertaking marked the first deliberate attempt to return a top-level carnivore to a large ecosystem. Now scientists are celebrating the gray wolves’ successful return from the brink of extinction as one of the greatest rewilding stories the world has ever seen.

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Judge halts Southern Oregon logging project

By MATEUSZ PERKOWSKI Capital Press

Oct 5, 2021 Updated Oct 5, 2021

 

A federal judge has halted a 900-acre logging project in Southern Oregon because its impact on great gray owls wasn’t properly evaluated.

U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken ruled the U.S.

 

Bureau of Land Management’s approval of the Griffin Half Moon project was “arbitrary and capricious,” which means logging cannot proceed until the plan is revised.

Aiken has adopted a federal magistrate’s recommendation to block the project for violating the National Environmental Policy Act, dismissing the BLM’s objections that the case was analyzed under the wrong legal standards...

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Oregon OKs killing most wolves in Baker County pack, including half of breeding pair, after attacks

By Jayson Jacoby, Baker City Herald

OregonLive - September 17, 2021

 

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has authorized killing most wolves from the Lookout Mountain pack, including its breeding male.

 

But the agency does not plan to target the breeding female from the pack in eastern Baker County, which has killed six head of cattle since mid-July and injured two others, including a six-month-old calf killed late last week.

 

 

The permit allows ranchers to kill up to two wolves, not including the breeding pair, before Oct. 31. The permit applies to four ranchers who have lost cattle to wolves, and allows any of them to kill wolves on land they either own or legally use for grazing…

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Edge of Existence

As climate change and habitat loss push wildlife to the brink, the time to protect biodiversity is now.

By Ben Goldfarb

The Nature Conservancy - August 27, 2021

In 1999, a strange virus began to afflict pig farmers in Malaysia. Patients suffered headaches, fevers and brain inflammation; ultimately more than 100 Malaysians died. Named the Nipah virus for the village where it was first identified, the pathogen is carried by fruit bats, which had been driven from their natural habitat by deforestation and fire and were foraging in orchards surrounding pig farms. It is believed that the bats were transmitting the virus to pigs, which passed it to humans. Nature’s deterioration, it seems, had spawned a public health crisis.

The Nipah virus spillover provided evidence of a profound truth: Our fate is inextricably linked to the biodiversity that surrounds us. Insects pollinate our crops; oceans feed us; forests provide us with shelter. The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the fact that when nature suffers, human well-being follows suit—loss of habitat and more contact with wildlife increases the risk of transmitting zoonotic viruses to humans. “Healthy waters, healthy lands, healthy people—all are part of a cohesive and integrated whole,” says Lynn Scarlett, chief external affairs officer for The Nature Conservancy.

 

To keep that whole intact, delegates from nearly 200 countries will convene for the next meeting of the United Nation’s Convention on Biological Diversity, which will set global priorities for safeguarding habitats, saving species and protecting the ecological services that sustain human communities. Although a date for the convention is uncertain due to global travel restrictions at the time of publication, its mission couldn’t be more urgent. Since the late 19th century, the world has lost approximately half of its coral reefs, and other critical ecosystems, like wetlands and tropical forests, are shrinking fast. Around 1 million species are threatened today with extinction. “The arc of conservation is at a pivot point,” Scarlett says…

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Hopping into the wild: Endangered frog release could help boost only known population in Washington

By Courtney Flatt

OPB – August 17, 2021

Hundreds of endangered northern leopard frogs have hopped into the only wild place these frogs are found in Washington.

The release recently was an effort to help boost this genetically important population. The frogs are bellwethers for ecosystem health.

These tiny frogs first hatched at the Oregon Zoo and Northwest Trek Wildlife Park in Washington’s Pierce County. Now that they’ve grown to roughly six centimeters long, the frogs are ready to join the state’s only known population at Central Washington’s Columbia National Wildlife Refuge.

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IPCC: We’ve Already Warmed the Planet to Catastrophic Effect, but the Level of That Catastrophe Is Up to Us

There’s no going back, but there is a way forward: Act now and go big.

By Jeff Turrentine

NRDC – August 9, 2021

Early this morning, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the first portion of its Sixth Assessment Report on how climate change is altering the planet’s natural systems and worsening extreme weather events around the world. The news, you won’t be surprised to hear, is not good.

Here are just some of the takeaways made by the authors with “high confidence”—which is IPCC-speak for near-certitude. In 2019, levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere were higher than at any time in at least two million years. The earth’s average surface temperature has increased faster since 1970 than in any other 50-year period over at least the last 2,000 years. Between 2011 and 2020, the annual average area of sea ice coverage in the Arctic reached its lowest level since at least 1850. And the global average sea level has risen faster since 1900 than over any preceding century in at least the last 3,000 years…

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Earth Overshoot Day 2021: Why the date has been moved back to 29 July as emissions ramp up amid Covid recovery

By Emma Snaith

Independent – July 28, 2021

Humans will have already consumed all the natural resources that Earth can sustainably supply for 2021 by tomorrow — overshooting by five months.

This year’s “Earth Overshoot Day” lands on the 29 July, after being moved forward temporarily in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic.

From this point until the end of the year, the global economy is operating in “ecological deficit”, campaigners say. Humanity currently uses 74 per cent more resources than what the planet’s ecosystems can regenerate each year — or 1.7 Earths….

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Biden proposes restoration of northern spotted owl habitat, reversing late Trump rule

By Zack Budryk

The Hill – July 20, 2021

The Biden administration is proposing to restore protections for millions of forests home to the northern spotted owl in the Pacific Northwest, the latest reversal of environmental protections undone by the Trump administration.

In a Federal Register notice Tuesday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined there was “insufficient rationale and justification” behind the Trump-era removal of protections. The affected 3.4 million acres stretched across nearly 45 counties in Oregon, Washington and Northern California.

The agency said it would instead curtail protections on about 200,000 acres in Oregon, following up on a 2020 proposal…

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The ‘ecological hate speech’ developed around wildfire

By Carson Vaughn

High Country News – June 29, 2021

California experienced more wildfire last year than any previous year on record, but the severe drought currently strangling nearly three-quarters of the American West threatens to make the 2021 fire season even worse. And while many state and federal agencies are taking extraordinary measures to prevent the further loss of life and property — including prescribed burns, thinning and the deployment of the largest firefighting force in California’s history — some question the efficacy of these increasingly costly measures.

In Smokescreen: Debunking Wildfire Myths to Save Our Forests and Our Climate, published last month by the University Press of Kentucky, author Chad Hanson suggests that wildfire behavior is driven primarily by weather and climate. “Extreme weather — hot, dry, windy conditions — will drive wildland fires until the weather changes. Under such conditions, which are becoming more common due to climate change, no matter how many billions of dollars we spend to try to manage vegetation in remote areas, we cannot stop or curb fires,” he writes.

“Nor can fires be stopped by fire suppression tactics during extreme weather, regardless of how much money is spent or how many firefighters and water tankers are employed. In the era of climate change, we can no more stop weather-driven fires than we can stand on a ridge and fight the wind,” he adds…

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Protecting Cascadia’s forests is our greatest climate solution

By Rebecca White

Register Guard – June 26, 2021

Let’s talk “proforestation.”

Coined by scientist William Moomaw, this term describes letting older forests do their natural thing, growing and sequestering carbon while nurturing a deep network of wild lives. Proforestation means leaving forests alone if they are already mature and letting younger forests survive to become old-growth. 

Proforestation does not sideline other forestry terms: Reforestation refers to either natural regeneration or to planting trees in formerly forested areas, and afforestation means planting trees in areas not historically forested. By contrast, proforestation recognizes the contributions of young trees are mostly decades in the future, and that greater carbon sequestration — and intact habitat — is necessary now as we face the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss.

Our Cascadian forests are among the world’s most powerful natural climate solutions, able to store more carbon than almost any other ecosystem. We should permanently protect our remaining mature and old-growth forests as part of a national strategic carbon reserve. Forest protection is not a substitute for, but must occur along with, an end to burning fossil fuels…

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In a Growing Campaign to Criminalize Widespread Environmental Destruction, Legal Experts Define a New Global Crime: ‘Ecocide’

By Katie Surma

Inside Climate News – June 22, 2021

Supporters now hope the 165-word definition will go before the International Criminal court’s member nations for ratification, which could take years.

A panel of 12 legal experts from around the world on Tuesday released a proposed definition for a new international crime called “ecocide” covering “severe” and “widespread or long-term environmental damage” that would be prosecuted before the International Criminal Court in the Hague, alongside genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression.

The panel’s announcement was seen by environmentalists and international legal scholars as a significant step in a growing global campaign to criminalize ecocide, which requires one of the court’s 123 member nations to formally request consideration of a fifth crime within the court’s purview. The process could take years to complete.

“The four existing international crimes focus on the wellbeing of human individuals and groups …and rightly so,” Philippe Sands, the noted international human rights attorney and author who co-chaired the panel, said during a virtual press conference. “We don’t in any way wish to diminish those vastly important crimes. But what is missing is a place for our natural world. None of the existing international criminal laws protect the environment as an end in itself, and that’s what the crime of ecocide does…”

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Forest Service Protections Sought for Wolves in Idaho, Montana Wilderness Areas

Earth Justice – June 6, 2021

BOZEMAN, MT — A coalition of wildlife advocates and hunters, represented by the nonprofit environmental law firm Earthjustice, today asked the U.S. Forest Service to issue new protections for wolves in designated wilderness areas following Idaho and Montana’s enactment of a rash of aggressive anti-wolf laws.

The petition, submitted to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and top Forest Service officials, asks the Service for protection of wolves in national forest wilderness areas from new Idaho and Montana laws allowing professional contractors and private reimbursement programs — resembling 19th-century wolf bounties — to dramatically reduce wolf populations in the two states.

During their 2021 sessions, the Montana and Idaho legislatures enacted harsh anti-wolf laws that target up to 1,800 wolves. One goal of the laws is to artificially inflate elk populations — which are currently at or above population objectives in most management units — to levels last seen in the mid-1990s, before wolves were reintroduced to their historical range in the Northern Rockies. Wolves are being targeted even though scientific studies show that drought and excessive hunting quotas, not predation, caused some elk populations to decline…

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In Vietnam and Oregon, the battle continues over Agent Orange

By Emily Green

Street Roots – June 15, 2021

Street Roots talks with acclaimed documentary director Alan Adelson about his latest film, ‘The People vs. Agent Orange’

American chemical companies made an enduring mark on the human species with the creation of Agent Orange. While no longer in use, the genome-altering impacts of the herbicide are crippling descendants of people exposed to it — generations later.

A documentary film released last year, “The People vs. Agent Orange,” revisits this old problem with a new lens. Through the stories of two elderly women fighting the same battle against chemical manufacturing giants, it shows the ways in which Agent Orange never really went away. Though continents apart, both women were catalyzed by the harm, including death, that befell their children, and they have each spent years seeking justice against chemical manufacturing giants that produce herbicides.

One of the women, Carol Van Strum, lives in Oregon’s Siuslaw National Forest, and a significant portion of the film is dedicated to revealing how herbicides, including a main ingredient of Agent Orange, are sprayed over industrial forests and watersheds that supply drinking water to some areas of the state today…

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Judge Deals Possible Blow To Pedal Power Timber Sale Near Springfield

By Tony Schick

OPB – June 8, 2021

A ruling last week by a magistrate judge may derail the Bureau of Land Management’s plans to log about 100 acres outside Springfield.

The BLM plans to build a network of mountain bike trails adjacent to the Thurston Hills recreation area and to log 100 acres.

 

Magistrate Judge Mustafa Kasubhai held up a previous decision that the agency failed to set adequate buffers between the trails and timber harvest.

Conservation groups who sued to stop the logging project see this as a win. Nick Cady is Legal Director of Cascadia Wildlands in Eugene.

“We’re just glad that the court stuck to its guns and reaffirmed its prior holding that the BLM has to, within this designated recreation area, protect its trail system,” Cady said…

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It Takes A Forest To Grow A Tree: The Revolutionary Forest Ecology Of Suzanne Simard

By Dale Debakcsy

Women YSK - May 27, 2021

Four short decades ago, the prevailing wisdom among forestry officials was the “Free To Grow” model by which, when a forest was clear cut for lumber, the earth was to be cleared of as much vegetation as possible to make room for planting monocultures of the most profitable trees, neatly spaced in symmetric grids.  Allowing other shrubs and trees to exist next to your cash seedlings, everybody knew and instinctively felt, would rob resources from those seedlings and doom them to an early demise.

The problem was, the ideal Free To Grow forests of government theory were proving to be anything but robust.  Stricken by disease, heat shock, and more susceptible to short term water shortages, these designed forests were not prospering as they should have, but as there was too much bureaucratic inertia at that point behind the Free To Grow concept, it seemed likely that it would continue as the central dogma of reforesting for decades to come, replacing vibrant and diverse forest life with acres of barren, herbicide soaked soil from which one variety of trees struggled to strain its way skyward.

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Fairy Creek blockade 2021: What you need to know about the anti-logging protest in B.C.

By Justine Hunter

Photography by Jesse Winter

The Globe and Mail – May 27, 2021

A protest over old growth forests is shaping up to be B.C.’s largest act of civil disobedience over logging in decades. Here’s what’s at stake.

Since last week, RCMP have arrested more than 100 people blockading logging roads in a Vancouver Island valley, in a protest that is shaping up to be the largest act of civil disobedience over logging in British Columbia in decades. Much of it is taking place in Premier John Horgan’s riding. As Mr. Horgan’s government drafts a new old-growth forestry model for the entire province, the battle over Fairy Creek is putting a spotlight on the management of a shrinking base of ancient forests.

What is Fairy Creek?

This section of rain forest on southern Vancouver Island, northeast of the coastal town of Port Renfrew, is a small part of Tree Farm Licence (TFL) 46, which covers 59,432 hectares. Parts of the TFL have been logged, and a section was carved out and protected in the Carmanah Walbran provincial park. Other sections are intact old-growth forest that are available for logging…

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Trees Fell Faster in the Years Since Companies and Governments Promised to Stop Cutting Them Down

By Georgina Gustin

Inside Climate News – May 19, 2021

The Forest Trends report shows a 50 percent increase in deforestation of tropical woodlands, most of it for agriculture and much of it illegal, since the 2014 New York Declaration on Forests.

In the seven years since governments and corporations promised to stop deforestation, the clear cutting of critically important tropical forests has instead increased by more than 50 percent, a new report shows, with commercial agriculture driving most of the increase.

The report, released Tuesday by the conservation group Forest Trends, tracks deforestation, legal and illegal, in 23 countries with large areas of tropical forests, including Brazil, home to most of the Amazon rainforest. The research looks at the period, starting in 2014, when dozens of governments, organizations and companies signed onto the New York Declaration on Forests, a voluntary agreement to halve deforestation by 2020 and stop it altogether by 2030.

The researchers found that, since those commitments, an area nearly twice the size of California has been cleared of trees, mostly for commercial agriculture, which is the largest driver of deforestation and the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions from land use...

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More Than 100 Scientists Ask Biden Administration To Restore Protections For Gray Wolves

By Danielle Kaeding

Wisconsin Public Radio - Thursday, May 13, 2021

Researchers Argue Wolves Haven't Recovered And Face Threats Of 'Hostile Treatment' Under State Management

 

More than 100 scientists have signed a letter asking the Biden administration to restore federal protections for the gray wolf.

 

The Trump administration announced last fall that it would remove the animal from the endangered species list across most of the country beginning in January, prompting lawsuits from environmental and wildlife groups to restore the protections. The Biden administration has said it's reviewing the delisting, along with other agency decisions as part of a broad executive order issued in January.

 

In the letter, scientists argue that gray wolves have not recovered to their historic range, including along the West Coast, southern Rockies and the Northeast. In its decision to delist the wolf, they say the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service within the U.S. Department of Interior wrongly relied on the health of the wolf population in the Great Lakes region, which has grown to around 4,200 wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin…

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

By Cassandra Profita

OPB – April 29, 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.

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Ex-wildlife managers want veto of Idaho wolf-killing bill

By Keith Ridler

Idaho Statesman – April 28, 2021

Nearly 30 retired state, federal and tribal wildlife managers sent a letter Wednesday to Idaho Republican Gov. Brad Little asking him to veto a bill backed by agricultural interests that could cut the state's wolf population by 90%.

The former workers at the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Nez Perce Tribe, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, University of Idaho and U.S. Forest Service say the methods for killing wolves allowed in the measure violate longstanding wildlife management practices and sportsmen ethics.

Those methods include the hunting, trapping and snaring of an unlimited number of wolves on a single hunting tag, and allowing hunters to chase down wolves on snowmobiles and ATVs. The measure also allows, on private land, the killing of newborn pups and nursing mothers…

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View 2021 Harvest Schedule and Virtual Tour Here

Despite specific language in the (reinstated) 2005 Research Forest Plan calling for carbon assessments to be conducted for each harvest unit, there still appears to be NO consideration given for the carbon impacts of OSU's forestry operations.  I brought up this shortcoming during last year's forest tour to Director Fitzgerald.  He claimed he couldn't find anyone to do the called-for assessments.  It is difficult to understand how the College can claim to be exhibiting "leadership in forestry education" when they are ignoring carbon impacts of their timber cutting.

 

Most of the trees to be cut are considerably older than the industry average (e.g. in 70 to 90 year-old stands).  This means the carbon impact of cutting these trees is correspondingly much greater than typical clearcutting operations.  Research Forest managers don't offer much in the way of specific justification for cutting these older stands.  My sense is that the overriding factor in the harvest plan is revenue generation.  A recent public records request revealed that only 0.5% of the income from OSU's "Research Forests" funded research during the 2017 to 2020 time period.  There's nothing in the 2021 plan to indicate a change in approach.  Under the new Dean's leadership, the College is still relying on the forests as a "cash cow".

 

As the State Land Board and Oregonians consider whether OSU is qualified to manage an Elliott State Research Forest, our best guide is to look at how they are managing their existing "Research Forests".  OSU's 2021 harvest plan does not give one confidence they are qualified to be stewards of the Elliott.

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How “Act Locally” Became “Shop Locally” | What Happened To Earth Day?

By Jim Britell

Since 1970, the purpose of Earth Day has changed from one day each year when corporate polluters were exposed (what corporations should do), to a celebration of the personal (what you can do). Today’s bland, uncontroversial event typically features everything from 5k runs to esoteric spiritualties, but almost always carefully avoids any discussion of local polluters or environmental bad actors. If environmentalism is mentioned at all it is confined to climate change and recycling. The fierce green warrior has been replaced by the frugal green consumer now focused laser-like on the grass-fed beef at the local farmers’ market. Earth Day has converted attention from the public realms of pollution, environmental degradation, and over-development into the personal realm of the spiritual and inspirational. Certainly, all of us should improve our personal habits and recycle more, ride bikes, “reach out” to others, and listen to more Pete Seeger. But “all of us” don’t cause pollution from oil refineries; only a few people do, and Earth Day is the one day of the year they should be called out and shamed even more than usual. Corporate sponsors open their checkbooks for Earth Day to avoid having individual companies’ behaviors singled out for scrutiny. To accomplish this, they are willing to furnish unlimited seedlings, paper bags with green writing, and funds to print brochures on how to recycle containers that shouldn’t have been produced in the first place…

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

NICHOLAS IOVINO April 8, 2021

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.

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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...

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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...

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Global Call Goes Out to End Destruction of Canada's Ancient Forests

By Kenny Stancil

Common Dreams – June 18, 2021

More than 100 prominent individuals throughout Canadian society, along with a handful of international supporters, urged British Columbia Premier John Horgan on Friday to fulfill his campaign pledge to immediately protect the region's imperiled old-growth forests, which continue to be logged despite scientific warnings against further destruction.

"Some things can't be replaced," the coalition of influential Indigenous leaders, political figures, academics, activists, authors, artists, and athletes wrote in a letter to Horgan, a member of the B.C. New Democratic Party (NDP).

"For thousands of years, these forests have cleaned our air and water, nurtured species, stabilized the climate, and been stewarded by Indigenous Nations through the jurisdictional management of their traditional lands," they added. "Protect the irreplaceable..."

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As Climate Warms, a Rearrangement of World’s Plant Life Looms

By Zach St. George

YaleEnvironment360 - June 17, 2021

Previous periods of rapid warming millions of years ago drastically altered plants and forests on Earth. Now, scientists see the beginnings of a more sudden, disruptive rearrangement of the world’s flora — a trend that will intensify if greenhouse gas emissions are not reined in.

Some 56 million years ago, just after the Paleocene epoch gave way to the Eocene, the world suddenly warmed. Scientists continue to debate the ultimate cause of the warming, but they agree on its proximate cause: A huge burst of carbon dioxide entered the atmosphere, raising Earth’s average temperature by 7 to 14 degrees Fahrenheit. The Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), as this event is known, is “the best geologic analog” for modern anthropogenic climate change, said University of Wyoming paleobotanist Ellen Currano.

She studies how the PETM’s sudden warmth affected plants. Darwin famously compared the fossil record to a tattered book missing most of its pages and with all but a few lines obscured. The PETM, which lasted roughly 200,000 years, bears out the analogy. Wyoming’s Bighorn Basin is the only place on Earth where scientists have found plant macrofossils (visible to the naked eye, that is) that date to the PETM. The fossil leaves that Currano and her colleagues have found there paint a vivid portrait…

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50+ groups across US Northwest unveil Green New Deal vision for region's vital forests

By Julia Conley

AlterNet – June 11, 2021

More than 50 conservation and climate justice organizations across Northern California, Oregon, and Washington on Wednesday called on policymakers to preserve the region's tens of millions of acres of forest land by adopting a Green New Deal for Pacific Northwest Forests—a plan comprised of six pillars aimed at safeguarding against destructive wildfires while also mitigating the climate emergency.

"Forestlands in the Pacific Northwest can become central in drawing carbon out of the atmosphere and defending against the worst impacts of climate change, all the while supporting the local economies and rural communities that rely on forestlands." —50+ conservation groups

"The forests of the Pacific Northwest have the potential to take up and store as much if not more carbon per acre than any other forest in the world—including the Amazon rainforest,"  said (pdf) the organizations, calling for a transformation of industrial forestry in line with the demands of the Green New Deal legislation originally introduced in 2019 by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.)…

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After our investigation, Oregon House moves to curb forest institute’s power and budget

By Tony Schick

OPB – June 8, 2021

The Oregon House voted Tuesday to cut the Oregon Forest Resources Institute’s budget by two-thirds and redirect the money to the type of climate science it tried to undermine, delivering a sharp rebuke to a tax-funded agency that a news investigation showed had attacked scientists and acted as a lobbying and public relations arm for the timber industry.

Representatives agreed in a 32-27 vote to increase oversight of the institute, end its public advertising campaign and shift $2.7 million of its $4 million annual budget to the Oregon Department of Forestry for projects including climate research in forests and assisting small landowners. The bill now moves to the Oregon Senate for consideration.

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Biden Administration Suspends Oil Leases in Arctic Refuge

By Timothy Puko

The Wall Street Journal – June 1, 2021

Trump administration approved leases in the pristine wilderness, but no major oil companies had bid for rights

WASHINGTON—The Biden administration on Tuesday suspended oil leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, blocking plans for the first-ever drilling program in the pristine 19-million-acre wilderness.

The Interior Department said the program will be on hold until it completes a comprehensive analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act. The review could ultimately lead to the leases being voided altogether, the department said.

“Today marks an important step forward fulfilling President Biden’s promise to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge,” Gina McCarthy, the White House national climate adviser, said in a statement. Drilling could change “the character of this special place forever,” she added.

The decision is the latest twist in more than 30 years of fights, often highly partisan, over how to manage what many consider some of the country’s last unspoiled wilderness...

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Holiday Farm Fire Salvage Logging Proposal Gets Mostly Critical Comments

By Rachael McDonald

KLCC – May 25, 2021

The Bureau of Land Management has wrapped up their comment period on a proposal to log 910 acres affected by the Holiday Farm Fire last year. The agency expects to put out a decision by the end of this month.

Becca Brooke with the BLM said they received about 200 comments on the plan.

“If we decide to proceed, we’ll probably be able to offer salvage sales for auction in July,” Brooke said. “So, the earliest that the public could anticipate seeing salvage on BLM lands here is early August.”

Brooke said only 30% of public comments are in support of the proposal, while the majority ask for a more rigorous environmental review. Conservation groups have voiced concern over potential harm to wildlife habitat and the McKenzie River.

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Biden’s Climate Chops Face A Big Test On Old-Growth Forests

By Mike Garrity

Counterpunch – May 14, 2021

As the administration lays out an aggressive climate and conservation agenda, the Forest Service has primed logging projects in carbon-rich forests.

In the Cascade Mountain Range of west-central Oregon, near the small town of MacKenzie Bridge, is an area of Willamette National Forest that’s home to a patchwork of mature Douglas fir and western hemlock. The oldest are between 120 and 150 years, towering more than 100 feet.

Few mature forests remain in the continental United States after decades of intensive logging. And, like so many before them, these trees could soon be gone as the U.S. Forest Service moves ahead with a plan that would allow about 2,000 acres to be cut down in what’s known as the “Flat Country” project.

The Biden administration is pushing an aggressive environmental agenda, pledging to both slash greenhouse gas emissions at least in half and to conserve 30% of America’s lands and waters by 2030. Those commitments include broad language about the need to “invest in forest protection and forest management” and to “fight climate change with the natural solutions that our forests, agricultural lands, and the ocean provide…”

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‘Make-or-break moment’ for forests

UN News - April 26, 2021

“Forests are at the core of our efforts to restore our relationship with the natural world,” the deputy UN chief said on Monday at the UN Forum on Forests.

Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said we were at a “make-or-break moment”, adding that woodlands provide vital functions, including as guardians of fresh water sources and biodiversity protection.

“Forests are at the core of the solutions that can help us make peace with nature”, she underscored, stressing that "we need all-hands-on-deck" to support of forests worldwide.

Moreover, failure to protect them would have a major, negative impact on damaging and rising carbon emissions.

The deputy UN chief said that forests must be adequately financed, including through alleviating debt burdens for those States which are expected to do more for woodland protection and sustainable agriculture overall…

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Lawmakers investigate reports of irresponsible tree-cutting after wildfires

By Cassandra Profita

OPB – April 29, 2021

More employees come forward with allegations of mismanagement in state wildfire cleanup project

More and more workers are lining up to blow the whistle on a state project that they say is irresponsibly removing trees along roads and properties that burned in last year’s wildfires.

Multiple people who have worked for Oregon Department of Transportation contractors have now come forward to flag problems with the state’s hazard tree removal project.

Lawmakers heard many of their concerns at a hearing before the Senate Natural Resources and Wildfire Committee on Wednesday and are now considering their options for trying to stop the work until it can be reviewed.

On Thursday, committee chair Jeff Golden, D-Ashland, sent a letter to Gov. Kate Brown asking her to suspend the state’s tree removal operation and order an investigation of the allegations shared in Wednesday’s testimony. He flagged concerns that mismanagement of the state contracts could jeopardize Federal Emergency Management disaster funding that the state is counting on to help pay for wildfire cleanup work…

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Bill Allowing 90 Percent of Idaho’s Wolves to Be Killed Passes House and Senate

By Olivia Rosane

EcoWatch – April 28, 2021

A bill allowing hunters and private contractors to kill up to 90 percent of the state's wolves passed the Idaho House on Tuesday.

The measure also passed the Idaho Senate last week, which means that the fate of around 1,000 wolves now lies with Republican Gov. Brad Little.

"If this horrific bill passes, Idaho could nearly wipe out its wolf population," Andrea Zaccardi, Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) senior attorney, said in a statement emailed to EcoWatch. "Unless we can stop this from becoming law, decades of progress towards wolf recovery will be lost…"

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'Watershed Moment' as Haaland Revokes Trump-Era Orders, Creates Climate Task Force

By Jessica Corbett Common Dreams

Apr. 17, 2021 11:18AM EST

As the Biden administration reviews the U.S. government's federal fossil fuels program and faces pressure to block any new dirty energy development, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland won praise from environmentalists on Friday for issuing a pair of climate-related secretarial orders.

"Today is a watershed moment in the history of the U.S. Department of the Interior," declared Jeremy Nichols, climate and energy program director for WildEarth Guardians. "With Secretary Haaland's actions today, it's clear the Interior Department is now working for communities, science, and justice. We are grateful for her leadership and bold action to put people over polluters."

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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…

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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...

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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...

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What is Forest Health?

By George Wuerthner

Counterpunch - June 8, 2021

In an article in the Bozeman Chronicle about the North Bridger Timber sale, the Forest Service justifies logging the forests based on what it calls “forest health”. The agency claims logging will “restore” resiliency.  But few ask what exactly constitutes a healthy forest ecosystem?

The agency defines forest health as a lack of tree mortality, mainly from wildfire, bark beetles, root rot, mistletoe, drought, and a host of other natural agents. To the Forest Service, such biological agents are “destructive,” but this demonstrates a complete failure to understand how forest ecosystems work.

 

This Industrial Forestry Paradigm espoused by the Forest Service views any mortality other than that resulting from a chainsaw as unacceptable…

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Forest advocates press EU leader to rethink views on biomass and energy

By Justin Catanoso

Mongabay – June 15, 2021

·        EU officials are currently working to finalize REDII renewable energy policy revisions and amendments by mid-July for EU parliamentary review. One component of that review is to determine whether forest biomass burning will continue to be considered carbon neutral by the 27 EU member states.

·        Current science is clear: burning forest biomass to make energy is not carbon neutral, and the burning of wood pellets is dirtier per unit of electricity than burning coal. But the forestry industry and EU continue defending biomass, prompting an open letter from forest advocates harpooning the policy.

·        In the leadup to the updated REDII policy revision proposals, European Commission Exec. VP Frans Timmermans says he truly values forests, but simultaneously believes that cutting them down and burning them to make electricity remains viable climate policy. More than 50% of the EU’s current wood harvest is being burned for energy.

·        “Ecocide threatens the survivability of our forests. I certainly don’t underestimate the challenges we face, but still, I believe [burning forest] biomass can play a very useful role in the energy transition,” says Timmermans.

“Please get the science right,” forest advocates implored last week in an open letter sent to the most influential European Commission leader on climate, as the European Union reevaluates its renewable energy policies this month.

That letter comes at a crucial moment which will determine whether the continent hits its ambitious voluntary carbon-reduction target under the Paris Agreement, and also whether it does so without relying on an existing EU carbon reporting loophole that allows the burning of forest biomass to make electricity, with the resulting greenhouse gas releases counted as generating “zero emissions…”

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New Report: Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss Must Be Tackled Together, Not Separately

By Georgina Gustin

Inside Climate News- June 11, 2021

The two leading science groups studying ecosystems and climate urged protection of carbon-rich habitats and warned against solutions to warming that lower species diversity.

Slowing global warming and stemming the loss of biodiversity have been viewed as independent challenges for years.

But a new landmark report concludes that climate change and the rapid decline of natural ecosystems are intertwined crises that should be tackled together if international efforts to address either are to succeed.

The report, released Thursday, was written by 50 of the world’s leading experts on biodiversity and climate change, representing two major international scientific groups collaborating for the first time: the Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform on Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The findings emerged from a workshop held in December and months of subsequent research, and come as leaders gear up for two major upcoming United Nations conferences, one focusing on biodiversity and the other on climate change.

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The 'messy' alternative to tree-planting

By Catherine Early

BBC – May 25, 2021

Trees are excellent at taking carbon out of the atmosphere and trapping it in their trunks, roots and leaves. But what if planting them wasn't the solution?

At a former intensive dairy farm in Sussex, England, oak trees now tower up to 20 feet tall (6 metres), sucking in carbon from the atmosphere, providing habitat for birds, mammals and insects, purifying air and water, and protecting land from flooding. Alder, hornbeam, ash and birch trees are also thriving.

Twenty years ago, these trees weren't here at all. The transformation is the kind of story that many countries are aiming for with large-scale tree planting programmes, from India to the US to Ethiopia. But they might be surprised to learn of the secret to this farm's success – none of these trees were "planted" here at all.

Instead, the trees at Knepp Castle Estate in southern England were allowed to spread naturally. Birds such as jays can disperse as many as 7,500 acorns in four weeks. "Not a single tree was planted, no saplings were bought from commercial nurseries, no tanalised wooden stakes, no polypropylene tubes and plastic ties, no direct financial or carbon costs – no effort," says Isabella Tree, co-owner of Knepp Castle Estate….

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The Legacy of 'Silent Spring' Continues Nearly 60 Years After Publication

By Katherine Martinko

Treehugger – June 1, 2021

Rachel Carson shaped environmentalism by taking an eloquent stance against pesticides.

A book about pesticides hardly sounds like a page-turner, but in the skilled hands of Rachel Carson, it became precisely that—and so much more. "Silent Spring," published in 1962, is widely hailed as the single most influential book on the environmental conservation movement. Carson's cool, meticulous arguments against the rampant spraying of toxic chemicals on crops, forests, and bodies of water resonated with a public largely unaware of what was going on, spurring them to action.

Carson is best known for her criticism of DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane), a pesticide commonly used at the time, which Carson said would be more properly termed a "biocide" for its ability to kill everything with which it comes into contact. She captured readers' attention with a haunting opening chapter called "A Fable for Tomorrow" that described an idyllic American village where "a strange blight crept over the area and everything began to change" after pesticides were applied broadly. Birds stopped singing, animals sickened and died, trees failed to blossom—and yet, "the people had done it to themselves…"

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Environmental group sues over Southern Oregon post-fire tree removal

By AP Staff

OPB – May 25, 2021

An environmental group is suing the U.S. Forest Service claiming it unlawfully approved the removal of burned trees in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.

The Klamath Forest Alliance's lawsuit accuses the agency of improperly "categorically excluding" the Slater Fire Safe Re-entry Project from environmental analysis, Capital Press reported.

The complaint alleges that logging trees along 146 miles (235 kilometers) of roadsides without an “environmental assessment” or a more rigorous “environmental impact statement” violates the National Environmental Policy Act.

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Big and Bad National Forest Clear-cuts Continue

By Mike Garrity

Counterpunch – May 14, 2021

Many politicians think they can get away with misleading the public. For example, Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) and Montana Republican Governor Greg Gianforte claim the Forest Service no longer clear-cuts our national forests. Obviously, as the picture shows, the timber industry is still clearcutting national forests with the Forest Service’s blessing. Case in point, Montana’s Custer Gallatin National Forest just signed a draft decision for the South Plateau logging project – literally on the border of Yellowstone National Park – that calls for clearcutting 5,551 acres or 8.6 square miles of forests in grizzly bear and lynx habitat. To haul out all of this timber, the Forest Service plans to bulldoze in 56.8 miles of new logging roads.

Clearcutting is occurring throughout the Northern Rockies. The Kootenai National Forest’s Black Ram logging project calls for clearcutting 1,783 acres in grizzly bear habitat and in federally- designated lynx Critical Habitat. The Flathead National Forest wants to clear-cut 468 acres of grizzly and lynx habitat between Swan Lake and Flathead Lake…

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Flattening a Forest

By Henry Houston

Eugene Weekly – May 13, 2021

Retired forestry professors, an environmental group and a lawmaker speak out on a proposed logging of mature forestland

 

During a recent trip to the McKenzie River area, Congressman Peter DeFazio tells Eugene Weekly that he’s seen more logging trucks in that one day than he’d normally see in a year.

But logging trucks could soon haul away more than the controversial Holiday Farm Fire-related salvage timber. The U.S. Forest Service is proposing forest management actions scattered across a project area of 74,091 acres near McKenzie Bridge, according to sale documents. Called the Flat Country Project, the project in the Willamette National Forest concerns opponents who say the agency would be logging mature forests, affecting diverse ecosystems and affecting a space that could be a part of capturing carbon emissions….

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ODOT to hire independent arborist to review hazard tree removal project

By Cassandra Profita

OPB – April 30, 2021

In response to allegations of mismanagement, the Oregon Department of Transportation plans to hire an independent arborist or forester to review the state’s post-wildfire hazard tree removal operations.

Mac Lynde, ODOT’s director of Oregon’s Debris Management Task Force, told lawmakers in a hearing on Friday that the agency is working to sign a contract in the next couple of days with someone who can do a professional “quality assurance review” of how contractors are identifying and evaluating hazard trees along roads and properties.

“We’re working aggressively to get that underway quickly,” he said. “It’s an important step we want to ensure transparency of the operation but more importantly that we are delivering the quality product that Oregonians deserve...”

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Salvage does not aid ecological recovery of forests

Jerry F. Franklin and K. Norman

Statesman Journal – April 23, 2021

There are many reasons why people may wish to salvage trees after wildfires like those that occurred in the western Cascades last September, including getting logs to the mill, recovering the economic value of the burned trees and reducing hazards to the public along roads and around houses and communities. 

While these economic and social values are important, it is critical to understand that timber salvage will not contribute to the recovery of westside forests, but will instead interfere with natural recovery processes, over the short and long term.

Forests in the Douglas-fir region of western Oregon evolved under a regime of infrequent, intense disturbances and are well adapted for dealing with such phenomena. These forests have evolved with infrequent but high severity fire, such as occurred last summer. They have a natural ability to immediately mitigate wildfire effects and initiate the long-term recovery of their functional capabilities, including watershed protection and provision of wildlife habitat…

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Contemplating Earth Day’s 51-year midlife crisis

By Dominick A. DellaSala

Mail Tribune - April 18, 2021

At 51, Earth Day is in a midlife crisis. So, let’s look at its past, present, and future.

Born in 1970, Earth Day was an outcome of the tumultuous ’60s. Rachel Carson’s seminal book, Silent Spring, sounded the alarm about pesticide residues in people and nature. Cleveland’s infamous Cuyahoga River, awash in oil and sewage sludge, was on fire. Our nation’s symbol, the bald eagle, was facing extinction.

In response to public outcry, President Richard Nixon (R) created the EPA and signed the Endangered Species Act, two of the nation’s premier eco-achievements. At the time, just five nations had satellite launching capabilities and Apollo astronaut Neil Armstrong took that “one giant leap for mankind.” Returning astronauts shared their outer-worldly experience…

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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…

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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.

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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:...

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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...

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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.