Andy Kerr

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

Western Oregon BLM Federal Public Forestlands:

How Much Logging Do the Various Parties Want?

The recommended levels of logging by various stakeholder interests range by a factor of 10. Depending somewhat upon the kind of logging proposed, the higher the proposed cutting level, the greater the likelihood of species extinction, watershed destruction and ugly scenery.

You can't tell the players without a scorecard. The table below summarizes how much timber—in billions of board feet and by the primary method of logging and in what forest types—each major stakeholder is recommending/suggesting/offering/demanding:

At the request of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Dr. K. Norman Johnson (College of Forestry, Oregon State University) and Dr. Jerry F. Franklin (School of Forest Resources, University of Washington) have made volume estimates for various programs of logging that would range between 98–242 MMBF/year in the long term or 174–338 MMBF for the next 15 years.

These options to the Secretary of the Interior are summarized in the table below. To achieve the increased log sales and meet a politically desired level of logging, BLM would have to do the following to the degrees necessary:

·      Diminish and fragment currently protected Late Successional Reserves and Riparian Reserves by moving previously logged stands to Matrix.

·      “Final[ize]” Riparian Reserve boundaries by decreasing or increasing them as appropriate, but with the expectation of a significantly smaller acreage of Riparian Reserves, as the current requirement that also provides for the needs of terrestrial species would be relaxed.

·      Diminish existing conservation protections for the red tree vole, a primary food source for the threatened northern spotted owl.

·      Generally accept a higher risk of extirpation or extinction of species such as the northern spotted owl, marbled murrelet or various imperiled stocks of Pacific salmon.

All stakeholders generally say they want stability. For many, it is stability in timber supply—sell as much each year as the year before and the maximum the land will yield. For conservationists, it is stability in species conservation, ecosystem services and watershed functions within a natural range of variability. The latter is more achievable than the former. Here are some words of wisdom from retired Forest Service Chief Jack Ward Thomas:

In summary, the timber supply from federal lands is one drought, one insect and disease outbreak, one severe fire season, one election, one budget, one successful appeal, one loss in court, one listing of a threatened or endangered species, one new piece of pertinent scientific information, one change in technology, one shift in public opinion, one new law, one loss of a currently available technological tool, one change in market, one shift in interest rates, et al., away from “stability” at all times. And, these changes do not come one at a time, they come in bunches like bananas and the bunches are always changing. So, stability in timber supply from the public lands is simply a myth, a dream that was never founded in reality. It is time to stop pretending.

Here is a memorandum that fully details and documents the above.