Andy Kerr

Conservationist, Writer, Analyst, Operative, Agitator, Strategist, Tactitian, Schmoozer, Raconteur

Western Oregon BLM Federal Public Forestlands:

What's Wrong With the Three Clearcuteers (DeFazio, et al.) Proposal

Congressmen Peter DeFazio, Greg Walden and Kurt Schrader ("The Three Clearcuteers") are proposing to transfer nearly 1.5 million acres of federal public forestlands in Western Oregon that are managed by the Bureau of Land Management to a timber trust for the benefit of counties and corporations. The legislation would also transfer ~218,000 acres of National Forest System lands to a timber trust.

I have prepared a one-page PDF entitled Current and Proposed Federal Public Land Allocations and Increase or Decrease in Conservation Management for BLM and Certain USFS Lands in 19 Western Oregon Counties if DeFazio Timber Trust Legislation Enacted.

The Three Clearcuteers (Reps. DeFazio, Walden and Schrader) proposal for the management of the O&C lands would effectively privatize and severely industrialize 1.5 million acres of federal public forestlands in Western Oregon.

The future management of the O&C forests is of great importance to Oregonians (60 percent of Oregonians live within ten miles of Western Oregon BLM lands), as well as to national stakeholders of our public forests. Three quarters of the BLM’s O&C lands contribute to the quality of domestic drinking water. These lands and waters are very important for wildlife and fish. Only 9,000 acres (or 0.4 percent) were not identified as likely habitat for terrestrial species of conservation concern. 10 different salmon, steelhead and trout stocks listed under the Endangered Species Act depend upon BLM lands in western Oregon.

The Three Clearcuteers (Reps. Peter DeFazio, Greg Walden and Kurt Schrader) proposal would affect 2.4 million acres (3,750 square miles) of Western Oregon BLM lands and would, among other things:

• Effectively privatize and totally industrialize ~1.5 million acres of BLM holdings including 0.2 million acres of National Forest lands in Western Oregon;

• Harm fish, wildlife and water and landslide prone slopes by subjecting these federal public forestlands to the grossly inadequate protections of the Oregon Forest Practices Act;  

• Weaken or eliminate the application of the Endangered Species Act for the effectively privatized holdings; and

• Somewhat improve the management on 0.9 million acres of federal public forestlands with trees older than 125 years.

If the Three Clearcuteers proposal were introduced and became law, it would result in, among other things:

• Higher water bills for many Oregonians as treatment costs would likely increase as sediment loads increased due to clearcutting on an over-built and under-maintained road system;

• Logging an estimated 510 million board feet a year, a near tripling of recent average annual logging levels (186 million board feet/year), or 33 square miles of new clear-cuts each year.

• Transferring the effective conservation burden for the Endangered Species Act-listed northern spotted owl, marbled murrelet from federal public lands where it primarily resides to non-federal (state and private) timberlands;

• Eviscerating existing administrative protections for late-successional reserves, riparian reserves and inventoried roadless areas.

• Additional ESA listing for other imperiled species; and

• Increased water pollution through significant increases in chemical use in order to suppress native vegetation and favor ecologically simplified tree farms.

The Geos Institute prepared this critique of the Three Clearcuteers proposal. This legislative proposal is an affront to all things decent and good about the public lands, the public waters and the public’s fish and wildlife.

On balance, the legislation would result in very large net loss of conservation values. Gaining statutory protection for the oldest of the remaining late-successional forest and a few modest Wilderness Areas and Wild and Scenic Rivers does not come close to compensating for the sacrifice of 1.5 million acres of public forests that would be effectively privatized and totally industrialized.