“Endless pressure, endlessly applied,” always says the legendary conservationist Brock Evans. Now, more than ever. Some scared or evil members of the Oregon Congressional Delegation are trying to reignite the Northwest Forest wars. They will be beat back. More importantly, however, is that from these threats comes great opportunities to achieve great conservation successes—not in 2012, but very likely—in the 113th Congress (2013-2014).
• Westside Forests. The county funding crisis is precipitating a last-gasp effort of the forces of darkness (“FODs”) to dramatically increase clearcutting on western Oregon BLM lands. In 2012, conservationists will beat back this effort—and set up the opportunity for legislation that equitably funds the counties, creates jobs through watershed and forest restoration and dramatically elevates conservation protections on Western Oregon federal public lands.
• Voluntary Federal Grazing Permit Retirement Legislation. I continue to agitate for additional legislation and will try some gambits that I cannot reveal here. They may or may not work, but are worth a go. If they don’t go in 2012, the seeds will have been planted for later harvest.
• Sagebrush Sea and Greater Sage Grouse Conservation. Due to our (a coalition of conservation organizations that work on the Sagebrush Sea, including The Larch Company), prodding, BLM and the Forest Service will be amending their land and resource management plans by 2014. In an attempt to avoid the listing of the Greater Sage-Grouse under the Endangered Species Act, they want to have imposed “adequate regulatory mechanisms” that would allow the Fish and Wildlife Service to not list the species. The result will be a Northwest Forest Plan- or Sierra Nevada Forest Framework-type plan for nearly 70 million acres of federal public lands in the West. This is huge.
• More Voluntary Federal Grazing Permit Retirements. I am also assisting the Soda Mountain Wilderness Council to buy out more federal grazing permits, which will help soften the ground for monument expansion—and give a chance to the mardon skipper, among other species
• Other Projects. I’m also working on the Oregon Eastside Forests Restoration, Old Growth Protection and Jobs Act, Oregon Caves National Monument and Wild Rogue Wilderness expansions, Devils Staircase Wilderness and Molalla Wild and Scenic River designations, Opal Creek Scenic Recreation Area expansion and strengthening, industrial hemp recommercialization, obtaining federal Wild and Scenic River status for Oregon Scenic Waterways, etc.
Larch Occasional Papers. These papers are used to educate conservation colleagues, the media and policymakers and to generally aid in informing and/or provoking debate. On tap for 2012:
• An Overview of Land Management for Oregon Federal Public Lands Under the Northwest Forest Plan
• Oregon Private Timberland Valuation and Taxation
• Oregon Forestlands
• To List or Not To List (Under the Endangered Species Act); That is the Question!
• Land Designations, Classifications, Allocations and Overlays for Oregon Westside Forests
• Hydric, Mesic and Xeric Forests of Western Oregon
• Livestock Grazing and Unhealthy Forests in the Arid American West
• Alternative Congressional Conservation Designations
• Achieving Federal Grazing Permit Retirements
Writing for Home Power Magazine. When times are tough in the for-profit sector, the trend is to fire permanent employees and hire consultants. In the non-profit sector, it is just the opposite. Therefore, to put food on the table, I have contracted to write several articles on energy efficiency, renewable energy and related matters, often from a public policy perspective.
A Closing Word
Perhaps some of the reasons that consulting for public lands conservation organizations has been slow are that they are so much on defense, rather than the offense that I specialize in. It was either Prussian general Carl von Clausewitz (1780–1831) or The Manassa Mauler, William Harrison "Jack" Dempsey (1895–1983) who famously said that the best defense is a good offense. There is no time like the present to change reality. Political opportunities for conservation advancement inevitably arise. We must be ready to seize them.