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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Bush-led BLM Defies Public Opinion, Science, Oregon Governor, Approve Logging Plan

Agency moves ahead with WOPR scheme that would clear-cut 100,000 acres of old growth

BLM moves forward with clear-cut logging scheme leaving Obama administration, conservationists to pick up the pieces.

Portland, Ore Dec 31, 2008

The Bureau of Land Management today pushed forward with the last minute approval of the Bush administration’s Western Oregon Plan Revisions (WOPR), a logging plan that would increase clear-cutting on 2.6 million acres of forest. The plan has been sharply criticized in recent months by numerous federal scientific agencies, thousands of public comments, and more recently from Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski who issued a statement earlier in the month saying the WOPR was not consistent with state law.

“We’ve heard a lot about midnight regulations from the Bush administration, but the WOPR is about as last minute—and as bad—as it gets,” said Sean Stevens with the conservation group Oregon Wild. “It’s a New Year’s present to the timber industry; a big old growth stump wrapped in a bow.”

The WOPR is the offspring of a backroom settlement between the Bush administration and a logging industry lobby group, the American Forest Resources Council (AFRC). The proposal would remove western Oregon BLM forests from the science-based management of the Northwest Forest Plan. Federal scientists have continually questioned the adequacy of the plan in protecting clean water, and habitat for endangered species.

The WOPR includes several environmentally harmful provisions, including:

  • An increase in logging on publicly-owned lands by 400%, with more than two-thirds of the total timber volume coming via highly destructive clear-cuts.
  • The addition of 180 million tons more carbon to the atmosphere compared to an alternative where we allowed our forests to grow. This is equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions from 1 million cars driven for 132 years and is a huge step in the wrong direction in the battle to stop global warming.
  • Slashing in half important existing protections for rivers and streams, putting at risk clean drinking water for communities and vital fish habitat.
  • Slating for logging almost 100,000 acres of old-growth forest at a time when around 90% of our old-growth forests are already gone forever.

“Considering all of the damage that this plan could cause, it is encouraging that Barack Obama has consistently emphasized the role of science when it comes to decisions about our public lands,” said Jonathan Jelen with Oregon Wild. “This plan has already flunked its science test.”

The proposed WOPR plan comes at a time when forest stakeholders are increasingly turning to common sense restoration-based thinning projects on publicly-owned land as an alternative to damaging and unpopular old-growth logging. In fact, both Senator Ron Wyden and Representative Peter DeFazio have drafted proposals aimed at implementing more of these restoration-based projects for Northwest forests.  

“There’s more consensus than ever before that we need to move forward in addressing the health of our forests with restoration-based thinning projects,” added Jelen. “As we ring in the New Year, the BLM’s decision to continue pushing the WOPR could set us back decades.”

Decades of industrial logging in the Northwest decimated the region’s once abundant old-growth forests. Almost all of the remaining mature and old-growth forest can be found on public lands like those managed by BLM.

“The BLM claims they are taking old-growth ‘off the table’ with the WOPR,” added Stevens. “With 100,000 acres of old-growth clear-cuts written into this plan, they aren’t taking it off the table; they’re planning on making tables out of it.”

Contact:

Sean Stevens 503.283.6343 ext 211 (ss@oregonwild.org)

See the FEIS WOPR and the Records of Decision here: http://www.blm.gov/or/plans/wopr/

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