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Highway (46 logging project) to Hell

A proposed logging project could affect thousands of acres of land that Friends of the Douglas-Fir National Monument is trying to protect. The public can comment on the project until Dec. 4.

The logging project, called the Hwy 46 Project, seeks to trim, thin and burn select forest areas in the Breitenbush Watershed, approximately 6 miles northeast of Detroit, Oregon. In addition to improving stand growth, the draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) says the project aims to reduce hazardous fuels and restore sugar pine population, as well as produce forest products for the local economy.

“Restoration thinning does provide logs and jobs in the forests and the mills,” David Stone, president of Friends of the Douglas-Fir National Monument says. “We aren’t opposed to the timber industry making money and thinning projects allow that to happen. As long as the purpose of the thinning is to set the forest back on path to becoming a natural forest.”

The group has not yet officially proposed the national monument, but says it fears the logging will homogenize the forest, open more avenues for invasive species and create swathes of damaged land. “Natural forests are all intact,” Stone says. “When you clear cut you create these patches of damaged tree stands. And when you get endangered species in a forest they don’t do well when their habitat is all cut up into patches.”

Three potential paths are outlined in the DEIS. Alternative one is to do nothing, letting the forest sort itself out. The DEIS provides projections for the impact not intervening in the forest will have. Alternative two — which the DEIS supports — includes allowing commercial logging of fire regenerated areas.

“Alternative two doesn’t allow the forest to be what it wants to be,” Stone says. “We want the protection of stream buffers. If they do re-planting, they need to vary the species … natural forests don’t grow one species, all in a line, all the same age.”

Alternative three, which the Friends conditionally support, allows for the logging of 2,652 acres of land — exempting “virgin natural forests” from logging — compared to the proposed plan, which calls for treating 3,515 acres in total.

“Friends of Douglas-fir National Monument is supportive of scientifically sound, ecological restoration thinning of plantations, where thinning will accelerate the return of a more diverse, natural forest,” Friends of the Douglas-Fir National Monument wrote in an alert. “However, we are adamantly opposed to any logging in virgin natural forests.”

Anyone interested in participating has until Dec. 4 to comment on the process at cara.ecosystem-management.org/Public//CommentInput?Project=47109