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BLM Plan Under Fire

On April 12, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) publicly released its proposed plan to increase timber harvest and environmental protections in Western Oregon forests. The plan claims to strike a balance between timber interests and protecting wildlife, but local environmental groups have called BLM’s new plan and “balanced approach” into question. 

The proposed BLM “Resource Management Plan” will include a 37-percent increase in timber harvest, according to Cascadia Wildlands, Oregon Wild and Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands Center.

 “This plan is going to ramp up logging in Western Oregon by almost 40 percent, and it’s imperative that we begin to look at our public forest lands as more than piggy banks, as they’re the lifeblood of our region,” says Josh Laughlin, executive director of Cascadia Wildlands. “They provide us our clean drinking water, incredible recreation opportunities, salmon and wildlife habitat.” 

Enviro groups are concerned that the BLM’s plan will threaten a clean source of water. This threat, says Doug Heiken of Oregon Wild, is due to an increase in logging and road building, as the federal forestlands “are upstream from the water intakes” in cities that serve 1.8 million Oregonians.

Another concern is for wildlife. Heiken explains that endangered wildlife species such as spotted owls, salmon and marbled murrelets will be at risk due to an increase in logging of old-growth reserves and through cutting stream buffers in half. 

Sarah Levy, a public affairs officer with the BLM, says that 96 percent of trees 200 years and older and 91 percent of trees 120 years and older will be protected.

In regard to timber management in wildlife habitat, Levy says that the plan is “in accordance with the Fish and Wildlife Service Recovery Plan for the northern spotted owl.”

A 30-day public review period began on April 8, and the full plan can be viewed at blm.gov/or/plans/rmpswesternoregon/feis