Waldo Lake and the forests and trails all around it is one of my “happy places.” Every summer, I love to paddle and swim in the clear, deep blue water and pick huckleberries for camp breakfast. I’ve hiked through the young forest on the north side of the lake, recovering slowly from the Charlton Fire that severely burned the high-elevation area. And I included the Black Creek trail, leading from the west side of the Waldo Lake Wilderness through diverse forests to the edge of the lake, in my ancient forest hiking guide.
A new report published in Nature underscores the need to preserve existing forests rather than just planting new trees to fight climate change. The report, from 200 scientists worldwide, stated that allowing forests to reach maturity and become old-growth has tremendous carbon storage and biodiversity conservation potential — a win-win natural climate solution.
Rain fell steadily on our drive into the mix of public and private lands southwest of Roseburg last month, the clouds and mist casting an eerie feel over the stark clearcuts we drove through on the way to a proposed logging unit in the 42 Divide Project area. In November 2021, the Roseburg District of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) sent an initial proposal for the 42 Divide Project out to the public for comments, calling for logging over 5,000 acres of forests up to 200 years old.
A year ago, Oregon Wild advocates joined activists from across the country and urged the Forest Service to restore protections and end old-growth logging on forests across the Tongass National Forest in Alaska.
This week, those efforts finally paid off! From the New York Times:
New report identifies ‘climate forests’ at risk
Executive order launches process for protecting mature and old-growth forests on federal lands
Today, President Joe Biden will issue an executive order that directs federal agencies to conduct an inventory of mature and old-growth forests on America’s federal lands so that policies can be adopted to protect them. The administration framed the move as a key strategy to store carbon and address climate change.
A coalition of over 75 groups launched a new climate initiative on Tuesday called the Climate Forests Campaign. The campaign is calling on the Biden administration to engage in federal rulemaking to conserve mature and old-growth trees on federal lands. These trees are the most critical in the fight against climate change. The national campaign is specifically calling out timber sales like the Flat Country Project, which covers 4,000 acres of logging in forests up to 150 years old.