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News, notes, trip reports, and the lighter side (of the wilder side) of the Oregon environmental and conservation movement.
The Carmen Smith relicensing agreement ain't perfect, but there aren't any deal killers.
In Oregon, dams have also pumped cheap electricity into our communities. That's why Oregon Wild takes each dam relicensing process as it comes and works with interested stakeholders to find a balanced solution. The solution isn't always perfect, but we make sure that if we're signing on, we're not approving provisions that are unnecesarry and ultimately harmful for fish, wildlife, or people.
Yesterday, we signed on to a deal for the Carmen-Smith Project on the Upper McKenzie that fits the bill of a reasonable settlement--it's not perfect, but it is our best bet for helping fish and wildlife impacted by the operation of the dams on the river. The deal was inked by EWEB (Eugene Water & Electric Board) along with several Indian tribes, state agencies, and conservation groups (see the full list of signatories here).
The most important provisions in the deal (as described here by Susan Palmer at the Reg. Guard) are mitigation efforts at Trail Bridge Dam on the main stem of the McKenzie where a fish ladder downstream will help Chinook salmon migrate above the dam and into tributary streams where they can spawn. Additionally, EWEB will be required to place fish screens upstream of the dam to prevent endangered fish from being sucked into turbines on their way to the ocean.
After the conclusion of the negotiating process on the Carmen-Smith settlement, I immediately started thinking about the more contentious dam relicensing fight to the south--in the Klamath. The need to remove the four dams on the lower Klamath is clear, but groups have been struggling to come to an agreement that protects all of the Klamath Basin's amazing natural resources. Part of the problem has been an insistence by the Bush administration to reward political allies by sacrificing conservation values at two of the most important National Wildlife Refuges in the country.
Maybe with a new president and with an eye towards the balanced (although imperfect) compromise at Carmen-Smith, we can finally see progress in the Klamath in the coming year.
With the release of the BLM's plan to increase logging on a million acres of public forests, citizens feel compelled to speak up.
Not that Oregonians have ever been shy about expressing their views on forest management, but the Bureau of Land Managment's plan revision (WOPR) has brought out more concerned citizens than your average forest management plan. Over the past year, since BLM released their draft plan to drastically increase logging on mature and old-growth forests across Western Oregon, more than 30,000 comments from the public have been turned in and sorted through by the agency. While the vast majority of these comments were opposed to the logging of older BLM forests, clear-cutting, and reductions in stream protections, the BLM has gone ahead and finalized a plan that thwarts the majority opinion and best science.
No matter. Many people, rural and urban, still feel it's their duty to rally the public and inform folks about what's at stake and how they can continue to work to stop the WOPR's implementation.
For example, the WOPR & Beyond Coalition in Eugene is putting together a roadshow this fall to bring video and images of the forests threatened by WOPR to the masses. The kickoff event tonight in Eugene (Cozmic Pizza, 7pm) starts off with our own Doug Heiken talking about forests and climate change. A WOPR multimedia presentation follows, and more events are planned in Ashland (Oct. 28, 7pm, Headwaters Environmental Center), University of Oregon (Oct. 29, 7pm, Ben Linder Room in the EMU), Portland (Nov. 1 at the Red & Black), Corvallis and Salem (TBA). The roadshow culminates in a rally in Salem at noon on November 14, targeting the Governor and his responsibility to reject the BLM plan. (To learn more about these presentations, you can contact Samantha at email@example.com)
And BLM neighbors in rural Oregon have been rallying their neighbors, working tirelessly with the BLM, and participating in public forums to educate the rest of us about specific places under threat from BLM logging. (You can see some of these people and their special places at a Nov. 5 event in Eugene.)
While Oregon Wild staff are doing all we can to stop the BLM's new plan from going into effect, we don't have the capacity to do a lot of grassroots organizing. That's why I'm glad to know there are other groups and individuals out there working to protect our public lands too. We may not see eye to eye on every issue, but stopping the WOPR is one of the most important things we CAN agree on!
You can take action on the WOPR by going here and writing to Governor Kulongoski.
Local conservation groups are asking for help in securing environmental accountability when it comes to signing off on LNG pipelines.
As many energy-conscious Oregonians know, our fair state is becoming the new hot spot for LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) pipelines. Today, on the Columbia, conservation groups are fighting for river protection.
While Governor Kulongoski and state agencies have threatened to sue over an incomplete environmental impact analysis for the NorthernStar LNG terminal at Bradwood on the Columbia River at the federal level, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) has recently said it will soon issue a decision that could give salmon impact approval to NorthernStar’s request to take 12 billion gallon of water from the Columbia River each year. There is no doubt that this loss will impact salmon and their habitat.
Take action today
to ask Governor Kulongoski and ODFW to wait until there is a complete
environmental impact analysis before making any decisions on how NorthernStar’s
request to use 12 billion gallons a year of water as “ballast water” dead weight
to weigh down and stabilize outgoing LNG tankers.
With your help we can stop ODFW from jumping the gun on NorthernStar’s water rights.
Need more information, visit Columbia Riverkeeper's webpage on this issue.
Email contacts and sample email:
Michael Carrier, Governor’s Natural Resources Director:
Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife:
Roy Elicker, Director, firstname.lastname@example.org, (503)947-6044
Chris Kern, Assistant Fisheries Manager, email@example.com, (971)673-6031
Jill Zarnowitz, Water Policy Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org, (503)947-6092
Dear Governor Kulongoski and Director Elicker:
I am shocked that Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife would consider making a final decision on how NorthernStar’s request for over 12 billion gallons a year in Columbia River water rights before there is even a complete and accurate environmental impact study. I appreciate your strong positions on the inadequacy of the current Environmental Impact Statement for the NorthernStar project. It does not make sense, however, that ODFW would make its final decision on NorthernStar’s water right request before an adequate environmental study is even prepared. With the federal government ignoring its responsibility to protect Oregon and Columbia River salmon from the proposed LNG projects, it is critical that the State of Oregon do everything in its power to hold the LNG companies to a high standard. Any premature decision by ODFW on the proposed water right undermines Oregon’s credibility on this important issue.
Thank you for considering this request, I sincerely hope that both the Governor’s office and ODFW will ensure that ODFW does not take any actions that support approval of NorthernStar’s water rights until a complete impacts analysis is completed.
[name and contact info]
The BLM releases the final version of their old-growth logging plan. This blogger's task: distill 2,000 pages into one post.
Okay, so I am not going to try to give you ALL of the details of the new FEIS WOPR. Mostly because that would be, a) boring, and b) I haven't read the whole thing. (It is 2,000 pages long, after all).
What I can tell you is this thing is a stinker. Just a little bit of background if you aren't already in the WOPR loop. WOPR stands for Western Oregon Plan Revision and it's a plan drawn up by the Bush administration and the BLM outlining management for 2.6 million acres of Oregon's forest. I know what you're thinking: letting the Bush administration draw up a plan for forests? Sounds like a bad idea.
Well, with their track record it is a bad idea. Especially when these forests already had the imperfect but science-based management outlined in the Northwest Forest Plan. However, the Bushies and the timber industry used a sue-and-settle scheme to force the BLM to rewrite their plan.
And thus we have the lump of coal that is the WOPR.
Here are a few details about the plan, courtesy of our forest expert Doug Heiken, that just might blow your mind:
- 375% increase in timber harvest compared to current logging levels
- timber harvest equivalent to 100,400 log trucks per year, or 1 million log trucks over a decade
- 27% of the remaining old growth on BLM land would be clear-cut over the next 100 years (that's almost 100,000 acres for those of you keeping track at home)
- protection for rivers and streams would be slashed in half compared to the existing plan
- Over the next 100 years, the plan will result in 180 million tons more carbon in the atmosphere compared to a "no harvest" alternative, equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions from 1 million cars driven for 132 years
- the so-called "regeneration" harvests in the plan (some 70% of the volume comes from regen harvest) are real clear-cuts with NO green tree retention
- almost 1300 miles of new roads
It may sound strange, but when the timber industry threw out a request to remove protections for the murrelet, they might have been picked off.
We are right in the heart of football season, so I think the pigskin reference is apt. Besides, the one consistent descriptor you will hear about the threatened bird in question, the marbled murrelet, is that it is shaped like a tiny football.
Appropriate given that both fly. Although, the murrelet can nest dozens of miles inland from the Pacific Ocean where they spend most of there time. While my all time favorite QB, Joe Montana, could throw the ball quite a ways, I don't think he could complete a pass from Newport to Corvallis.
Anyways, back to the issue at hand. A few months back, the American Forest Resources Council (AFRC) filed a petition with the US Fish and Wildlife Service asking the feds to remove the murrelet from the Endangered Species List. The folks in the timber industry have long wanted to strip away protections for the tiny seabird that nests in old-growth forests (I bet you can guess why they want to remove protections for old growth).
AFRC thought that a 2004 finding by USFWS stating that murrelet's didn't need protection in the Northwest would help them to remove protections for the bird altogether. Nevermind the fact that that 2004 decision was all doctored up by the political meddlings of the now infamous Julie MacDonald.
So, when the timber industry's suit to have the murrelet's status revoked reaches its conclusion, they might end up with a little pie in their face.
Michael Milstein's article in the Oregonian puts it well:
"...The Fish and Wildlife Service said this week that it will consider the industry's arguments but said the analysis supporting the 2004 finding was flawed.
That means the agency could decide the birds in the Northwest deserve protection after all. The agency could go further and find that the species also needs protection in Alaska, where numbers have declined 70 percent in the past 25 years...
...The timber industry could face an unwelcome surprise, however, because the agency will review the murrelet's status across its entire range, including Alaska. Murrelet populations in Alaska do not fall under the Endangered Species Act, but they are declining sharply.
The agency could conclude that federal protection also should include those birds. The reviews are expected to take about a year."
The Clean Forest Project hosts a cleanup of an illegal dump site on October 11, 2008.
Though many in the Klamath Basin are gearing up for birding season in the region while others are getting in one last canoe trip down the Williamson, some are preparing for winter in a different way... The Clean Forest Project, a regional group from Grants Pass, are doing their part to restore the Klamath, one site at a time.
The Clean Forest Project is holding an event from 9am to 2pm on Saturday, October 11th at the Braymill Cinder pit in Klamath County. Volunteers are needed to help with the cleanup of this illegal dumpsite.
Clean Forest Project works in partnership with land managers, businesses and the community to address the growing problem of illegal dumping on public land in Klamath County. Illegal dumping contaminates drinking water, endangers wildlife, threatens the health of people who recreate in our forests and contributes fuel to an already severe wildfire situation.
Oregon Wild supports the mission of the Clean Forest Project: To mobilize the communities of Southern Oregon to care for their public lands by participating in forest-wide cleanups of illegal dumpsites and restoration of land damaged by illegal dumping; reaching out to and educating school children to be good citizens and stewards of their public land; tackling other important stewardship opportunities as they arise.
Directions to event: Hwy 97 N To Chiloquin Exit. Right to Sprague River Road. Turn Left. Approx 4 miles to site...look for signs
What to wear: Long sleeved shirt, long pants, sturdy shoes and come prepared for the weather!
What to bring: Any tools you have.
What we provide: Clean Forest Project will provide lunch, beverages and sunscreen.
If you're in the area, lend a hand! Need more information? Email Ani at Oregon Wild at email@example.com.
The shoreline trail around Waldo Lake is newly dedicated in honor of former Congressman and long-time wilderness hero, Jim Weaver.
The Oregon Wild Waldo Lake Family Camp Out may have been canceled last week, but a large gathering of another sort offered up a celebratory mood on the north shore of Waldo Lake today. A crowd of about 50 people - including Governor Kulongoski, Lane County Commissioners Pete Sorenson and Faye Stewart, and some long-time wildland advocates - gathered to dedicate the shoreline trail around Waldo Lake in honor of former 4th District Congressman Jim Weaver.
Earlier this year, Peter DeFazio (current 4th District Representative), championed legislation to rename the trail after his predecessor. For any relative new-comers (like me, with a mere 9-year stint in Oregon so far), Jim Weaver represented the 4th District from 1975 to 1987. He was a true champion for Oregon's wild places - repeatedly working to protect places like Waldo Lake, French Pete in the Three Sisters Wilderness, Cummins Creek, and Bull-of-the-Woods. In total, he finally helped gain Wilderness protections for 861,500 acres in the 1984 Oregon Wilderness Act. That must have felt good!
The morning's speeches by former Weaver staffer Joe Rutledge and by Governor Kulongoski emphasized the pristine beauty of Waldo and its surrounds (cue the sunshine to sparkle on the water and Diamond Peak's far-off snow) and how hard Weaver worked to protect Oregon's wild places for future generations. Among the high praise, the Governor credited Weaver for drawing the connection between the environment and the economy at a time when this was unheard of.
A very grateful Weaver, surrounded by his family, accepted the honor and cut the ribbon for the new trail sign. Still politically charged and passionate about the work he's been so long invested in, Jim Weaver seems certain to pass along his fighting spirit to his grandsons - for whom he worked so hard to protect Oregon's wild places.
I felt honored to be included in such a celebration of a true wilderness champion. And I felt honored to be a part of this great organization when Weaver referred to Oregon Wild staff (back when we were ONRC) as "Great young environmentalists. Dedicated people." Surrounded by so many who have worked so long and hard for places like Waldo Lake, I can't help but look forward to a time when I can look back on the successes I was a part of. Better get back to work...
A talentless photographer finds irony in being this year's Oregon Wild Outdoor Photo Contest Coordinator
I wish I could take a picture.
I mean, a good picture.
I generally consider myself an artistic person; the crafty, creative-type since childhood. But taking a good picture? That’s something I simply can not do. I took a photography class once and I quickly discovered that the part I did best was film development. In development there are rules: add this much of that chemical and agitate for so many minutes, etc. I got it. Sadly though, each roll of carefully developed film revealed only disappointing, boring shots that not even my mother could find much praise for.
Now that I live in this most magnificent state, this particular inability of mine is especially frustrating. When I’m lucky enough to get out of the city and be graced by the presence of the 500+ year old giant cedars in the coast range, I wonder, how can someone use a camera to capture the grandeur of this place? When I stand among the ponderosas and bended junipers and see the snow-tipped peaks of Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson, Black Butte, 3-Fingered Jack, Mt. Washington, the Three Sisters, Broken Top, and Mt. Bachelor – all from the top of Lookout Mountain in the Ochoco National Forest – I wonder, how can someone use a camera to capture the vastness of this diverse and delicate landscape? When I spend a summer evening at Mt. Hood’s Mirror Lake, surrounded by wildflowers, seeing the setting sun’s pink glow illuminating our iconic mountain reflected on those peaceful waters, I wonder, how can someone use a camera to capture the sweet stillness of this, as-of-yet, still threatened gem?
I simply don’t have the eye for it – I seem incapable of using the camera, one of the most innovative and fascinating tools that humankind has ever invented, to its highest potential. Given the beauty surrounding us in Oregon, that’s a real shame.
Though I don’t yet seem able to snap Oregon in the perfect photo, perhaps you can. Maybe you are the person who can capture the serenity of rafting down the Wild Rogue, or the feeling of awe in seeing coho salmon return to spawn in their native headwaters in the Alsea, or the impressiveness of thousands of Tundra Swans resting and refueling in the Klamath National Wildlife Refuge before they head back down the Pacific flyway.
If you are one of those talented folks that I admire so deeply, we want to see your photos in our annual Oregon Wild Photo Contest!
This year Oregon Wild is fortunate enough to have a gifted panel of volunteer photo contest judges to take on the seemingly impossible task of selecting photo winners in each of our four categories: Wildlands, Wildlife, Waters, and Endangered Places. Winners will reap the benefits of amazing prizes from our incredible and generous sponsors. Among those prizes are gift certificates to Pro Photo Supply and Lensbabies, a full day rafting trip for 2 on the Deschutes River with All Star Rafting & Kayaking, private fly fishing lessons with Educational Recreational Adventures, workshops at Newspace Center for Photography and Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center, a 4-person tent from REI, a 3-day llama packing trip with Wallowa Llamas, and relaxing massage services from Common Ground Wellness Center. Makes you want to take a great photo, doesn’t it?
Given my photography ineptitude, my role as this year’s Outdoor Photo Contest Coordinator has been frustrating at moments, but far more inspiring. Like each person who will see these photos on our website or outreach materials, I’ve been impressed by the great talents of people like you who are able to capture a timeless and breathtaking image of Oregon. So send in your photos today – the deadline is Tuesday, September 30 – inspire me, and remind me (in those rare moments that I forget) why we work every day to keep Oregon a special place to live, work, and play.
P.S. You can check out last year's winners here.
“Someday, and that day may never come, I'll call upon you to do a service for me.” –Marlon Brando in The Godfather.
It’s not often that you get to walk through the woods with someone who has forgotten more about forest science then you will probably ever know. So when you get the chance to hear the wisdom of the Godfather of northwest forest science, you better listen up.
That’s exactly what I and a dozen other conservationists and foundation reps did last week in Washington’s Olympic National Forest with Dr. Jerry Franklin.
Franklin is a professor of ecosystem analysis at the University of Washington and a co-architect of the Northwest Forest Plan. In the spring, Franklin’s students will get to soak up four decades of knowledge in his Old Growth and Forest Management course. He’s published scientific studies on wildlife habitat, forest fire, riparian vegetation, and more recently on forest restoration.
Forest restoration is where that quote up top comes into play. Franklin has been a leading advocate for setting aside the conflicts of the past, protecting old-growth forests, and getting to work on the extensive restoration opportunities available on our public lands. Franklin wants the Service (USFS) and the BLM to do him a “service” and start restoring forests that have been hammered by mismanagement.
This is exactly what Oregon Wild is working to do with our old growth campaign.
Up in the Olympics last week we toured a few restoration projects that have already been completed and heard from Forest Service staff about the opportunities and challenges they face. Getting the fire fighting budget under control was one of the main topics of conversation when it came to brainstorming ways to find the resources to do some of this restoration work. Of course, some of these restoration projects will be self-funded and supply wood products to local mills and jobs to local communities. But all this can only happen if the Forest Service is given clear direction that old growth is off the table and restoration thinning is the name of the game.
We also got to see some decommissioned roads and roads converted to trails. These projects are part of that broader restoration framework. The thousands of miles of logging roads that slice through our National Forests have created a whole new hydrological network and have had disastrous consequences for watershed health.
Dr. Franklin isn’t done checking out the forest with Oregon Wild this summer. This week, Franklin and fellow forest scientist Norm Johnson will be out at our Glaze Meadow project with Tim Lillebo getting the inside scoop on the old-growth restoration project we designed with the Forest Service and Warm Springs Tribe. Work is expected to start on the project this fall.
For the month of September some Oregon Wild staff are taking on their carbon footprint and biking to work.
The Oregon Wild parking lot is looking pretty empty these days. Our porous pavement looks dry and exposed in the September heat and there are empty spots stretching from Greeley Ave. back to our recycling bins. Now before you get worried that we’ve all left our posts watching over Oregon’s wildlife, wildlands, and waters consider this: September is the Bicycle Transportation Alliance’s annual Bike Commute Challenge. That’s right friends; Oregon Wild has once again taken up the challenge to bike to work for the whole month of September! And while the parking lot is looking empty our back hallway has become an unofficial and crowded bike garage. Others have pulled their bikes right into their offices propping them against their desks or shelves.
As conservationists we don’t just bike to work to enjoy the fresh morning air, or smell the roses. We do it because we believe whole-heartedly in the possibility of a positive connection between our everyday choices and preserving wilderness in Oregon. Every time one of us rides our bike to work we produce less carbon and therefore allow our old growth forests to work on storing carbon from other sources. While our forests are capable of trapping 50% of carbon emissions produced in the state, anything we can do to reduce the amount of total carbon produced will take us one step closer to really fighting climate change.
Not to mention it’s a lot more fun than sitting in traffic! When I can’t be hiking along the banks of a cold river on the slopes of Mt. Hood, or meandering through old growth on the way to a high Cascades lake, I’d rather be riding my bike. Just this past weekend I went to visit my good friends in Corvallis and in an unprecedented move decided biking 70 miles was a great idea. Not only did I enjoy rolling through Oregon’s wine country, I felt really good about leaving my car at home. To me traveling by bike and protecting Oregon’s special places go hand in hand!