Victoria Wingell, Oregon Wild, (503) 847-9505, [email protected]
Steve Pedery, Oregon Wild, 503-998-8411 [email protected]
Madeline Cowen, Cascadia Wildlands, 206-653-4959 [email protected]
Patty Hine, 350 Eugene, (458) 209-6295 [email protected]
Hundreds of activists join together in Eugene to call for mature and old-growth forest protection.
Eugene, OR – Over 200 concerned community members gathered on Earth Day for a rally and demonstration in support of a proposed new national rule to protect mature and old-growth trees and forests on federally managed public lands. As thousands of acres of these forests on public lands are threatened to be logged, members of the public were joined by Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis and Eugene City Councilmember Matt Keating to urge federal agencies to protect mature and old-growth forests as a cornerstone of U.S. climate policy.
“We are fortunate to have the commitment of the Biden Administration to protect our forests, but as a mayor committed to climate, I recognize the urgency of the moment,” said Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis. “Trees are threatened from logging in our state and across the nation. We know that retaining and protecting theses forests is a key step to addressing climate change.”
Just shy of the one-year anniversary of President Biden’s executive order directing the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to define, inventory, and protect the nation’s mature and old-growth federal forests, the agencies on Thursday released a new inventory and map of these forests, as well as a notice of proposed rulemaking. The rulemaking process will include a public comment period to gather input from Americans on mature and old-growth protections, and what policies the agencies should adopt to protect them. Activists say this a welcomed first step towards permanent protections for the trees and forests most critical to fighting climate change, but worry some of these areas could be logged before a new rule is adopted unless swift action is taken.
Victoria Wingell, Forest and Climate Campaigner at Oregon Wild said, “Thousands of acres of mature and old-growth forests across the state are still threatened by logging right now, despite the White House’s steps to protect them. If we are to have a fighting chance at combating the climate crisis we are all facing, we need the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to take the magnitude of this threat seriously and withdraw these egregious timber sales. It’s clear that we need this new national rule now more than ever.” These projects include the Ragged Ruby project in the Malheur National Forest and multiple BLM projects: Evans Creek, 42 Divide, and IVM.
“As we celebrate yet another Earth Day characterized by compounding biodiversity and climate crises, we ask federal agencies to permanently protect mature and old-growth forests as one of our most powerful natural climate solutions,” said Madeline Cowen, grassroots organizer with Cascadia Wildlands. “Older forests filter our drinking water, remove climate pollution from the air we breathe, and increase our resilience to uncharacteristically severe wildfires. These forests are worth far more standing.”
"In the Pacific Northwest, mature and old-growth forests are our first line of defense against climate change," said Steve Pedery, Conservation Director at Oregon Wild. "Keeping these trees standing means they can continue to capture and store the pollution that causes climate change, provide future generations with clean water to drink, and protect vital habitat for fish and wildlife."
This Earth Day rally follows the withdrawal of the Flat Country timber sale last year, after activists across the region organized in opposition. The Flat Country sale would have logged 1,000 acres of trees 98-170 years old and had been previously identified by the Climate Forests Campaign, a coalition of more than 120 organizations working to protect mature and old-growth trees and forests on federal land, as one of the most egregious examples of mature and old-growth logging projects planned in the United States. The coalition’s report highlighted 21 additional mature and old-growth logging projects on Forest Service and BLM-managed forests currently expected to move forward.