2017 Spring Work Report and Funding Appeal

Crescent Creek, a Wild and Scenic River in the Ringo sale

2017 Spring Work Report and Funding Appeal 

We at Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project have been alarmed by the recent attacks on the environment by Trump and the republican administration. To counter these attacks, we need to work together to defend forests and streams on public lands, fight for clean water and air, and work to uphold and strengthen our existing ecological protections. Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project has long been a strong and effective advocate for forests on public lands in eastern Oregon. We’ve stopped and significantly modified many thousands of acres of ecologically destructive projects over five National Forests, and brought lasting and beneficial changes to laws and policies through our legal forest defense campaigns.

Sawyer measuring a large fir in the Camp Lick sale

In light of the current attacks on the environment, we are placing additional focus on protecting streams and on slowing climate change. We are using our vetted and effective strategies to fight for upholding and strengthening stream protections, and to ensure that commercial logging does not gain a foothold along streamsides or in roadless areas. We are also working to preserve forest ecosystems in the face of climate change, and to build awareness about the ecological effects of climate change on forests and stream ecosystems.

Centi in the Flat timber sale

Our legal forest defense campaigns and strategies, including our extensive engagement in the public comment process, volunteer internship program and field surveys, public outreach and education, and related efforts are more important than ever for protecting and restoring public forests in eastern Oregon. We need your support as we move forward. Thank you for joining us in defending the mountains, rivers, and valleys in these special places, as well as all the plants and animals, lichen, fungi, and all species that find their homes in these landscapes.

Our recent work accomplishments and upcoming events since our November 2016 Annual Report:

Isobel in the Camp Lick timber sale

The Lower Joseph Creek timber sale: In cooperation with environmental allies, we saved over 8,000 large trees in the Lower Joseph Creek timber sale (Wallowa-Whitman National Forest (NF)). Large trees are defined as those ≥21” in diameter at breast height (dbh). In response to our objections, the Forest Service also agreed to substantially increase the size of no-cut buffers on most streams within the sale. Logging will occur further away from most creeks compared to what was originally proposed, in order to better protect water quality and streamside riparian habitats. The Forest Service also put in place more stringent restrictions regarding logging in Inventoried Roadless Areas, and clarified that no commercial logging will take place. These changes are significant steps in the right direction, and will better protect Threatened steelhead in the project area. While we are still concerned about logging in this project, we are very relieved that these improvements will significantly reduce negative ecological impacts.

Karen with an old growth fir in the Dove timber sale

The Dove timber Sale: In response to our objection on the Dove timber sale (Malheur NF), the Forest Service dropped all commercial logging (315 acres) within streamside “Riparian Habitat Conservation Areas”. In order to protect appropriate forest cover and habitat for deer and elk, the Forest Service also dropped 193 acres of commercial logging and another 663 acres of biomass logging. Other changes the Forest Service made to the Dove project in response to BMBP’s objection include:

Karen with an burned snag in the Dove timber sale
  • Restricted logging of trees to no more than 10.9” dbh on 8,706 acres of biomass logging
  • Dropped 70 acres of Lodgepole pine logging and modified another 114 acres of pre-commercial logging based on concerns identified in BMBP’s field surveys
  • Included a smaller diameter limit for logging Ponderosa pines on 4,016 acres of Shrub Steppe logging
  • Dropped 37 acres of commercial logging in Goshawk post-fledging areas
  • Dropped 47 acres of Lodgepole logging in connectivity corridors, and modified another 156 to include generally greater retention of trees
  • Agreed to exclude prescribed fire ignitions in Pileated woodpecker foraging areas
  • Agreed to buffer nest snags and roosting trees, and to retain a generally higher proportion of trees across 147 acres in areas designated as Replacement Old Growth that have associated Pileated Feeding areas
Tom Buchele, the lead attorney on the Walton Lake case, in the Walton Lake timber sale

Direct Forest Defense

Spotlight on Walton Lake: Last fall, the Forest Service withdrew their proposal to log an ecologically important old growth fir forest in the popular Walton Lake recreational area in response to the preliminary injunction and lawsuit filed by Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project and Earthrise Law Center. Unfortunately, the Forest Service has recently re-proposed virtually the same sale. The Walton Lake project still proposes to log hundreds of magnificent large and old growth fir trees as part of this sale. The Forest Service has already admitted in internal documents that logging would completely change the scenery of the area, and that they would essentially be clearcutting fir-dominated portions of the area. We submitted comments on the environmental assessment in April, and will continue to fight this project.

Aquatic garter snake at Walton Lake

Comments and objections: We are engaged in the public comment process for numerous projects on public lands in eastern Oregon. Since last October, we’ve submitted comments or objections on 15 projects; we are tracking over 35 projects in different stages of planning.

We submitted scoping comments on the Flat and Ragged Ruby timber sales (Malheur NF); the Godman Thin and Mt. Top Defensible Space logging projects (Umatilla NF); the East Maury “Salvage” (aka post-fire) logging project (Ochoco NF), and the Blue Dollar grazing allotment (Malheur NF). We submitted EA/EIS comments on the Ringo timber sale (Deschutes NF), Walton Lake timber sale (Ochoco NF), the Ten Cent timber sale and Tamarack grazing allotment (Umatilla NF); and the Summit and Camp Lick timber sales (Malheur NF). We submitted objections to the Magone timber sale (Malheur NF), the Ten Cent timber sale (Umatilla NF), and the Sparta timber sale (Wallowa-Whitman NF). The Sparta timber sale re-proposes logging in areas that largely overlap with the Snow Basin timber sale proposal that we stopped in Ninth Circuit Court. We are currently working on an objection to the Scott Mountain Prescribed Fire in the Wilderness proposal on the Willamette NF. As part of submitting our objections, we also attended objection resolution meetings for the Dove and Magone timber sales, and the Ochoco Summit Trail proposal (regarding Off Highway Vehicle trails).

Fall colors in the Ragged Ruby timber sale

Public outreach 

Action Alerts: We keep the public informed and help them have their voices heard on issues affecting public lands. For example, we send out Action Alerts inviting the public to comment on specific timber sales and other projects we are engaged with, and provide information and talking points. Since last fall, we have sent out Action Alerts on timber sales such as Walton Lake (Ochoco NF), Ringo (Deschutes NF), Sparta (Wallowa-Whitman NF), and the Flat, Summit, Camp Lick, and Ragged Ruby timber sales (Malheur NF).

Brenna measuring an old growth fir in the Camp Lick sale

Meetings: Our engagement with the public comment process includes meetings with the Forest Service and local collaborative groups, and related public outreach and education. We attended two very productive field trips with Forest Service scientists to look at and discuss areas where we have serious concerns about proposed logging in sensitive ecological areas. We also attended three collaborative group meetings, four collaborative subcommittee meetings, and two Forest Service open houses. We also attended Pacific Wolf Coalition meetings, including the in-person meeting in Seattle.

A Stick and A Stone performing at our annual benefit. (Photo by Aru Fish)

Our annual benefit was a success! We had a lovely evening with almost 100 people, filled with great music, raffle prizes, food, and wonderfully friendly community and great conversations; we raised over $1,700. Leading up to the benefit, we gave two radio interviews on KBOO and one on XRAY.FM to discuss our work and to promote the event. Special thanks to volunteers Brenna Sahatjian and Isobel Charle for their amazing organizing work!

The DIY Craft Fair held at the People’s Co-op in December donated proceeds from the event to BMBP. We were honored to be the beneficiary of this event, which highlighted arts and crafts from talented local artisans. Plus, we had a great time tabling at the event!

Candy stripe in the Ringo timber sale

Speaking events, workshops, and panel participation: In March, Karen gave a panel presentation on how we use our field surveys to increase ecological protections and benefit forests during the PIELC law conference in Eugene. In April, Karen gave a training on timber sale surveying at Evergreen State College’s Rising Spring Convergence event. This spring, Karen and Paula also helped lead climate-change related discussion groups at the People’s Forest Forum hosted by Bark.

Movement and Coalition Building:

Karen gave a non-violent direct action training in Portland, and a strategic Campaigning workshop at the Social Justice and Equality Center. We were also present at protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Trump Inauguration, the Women’s March, the March for Science, and the Justice and Equal Rights march.

Karen with old growth fir trees in the Ragged Ruby timber sale

Other updates


Thank you to everyone who has donated to support our ecological protection work—we could not do our work without your support. Donations both small and large are crucial to funding our work. We’d also extend our thanks to the Burning Foundation; Charlotte Martin Family Foundation; the Astrov Fund, the Clif Bar Family Foundation, Oregon Deep Ecology Fund through Vanguard Charitable, and the Tirdof Fund for their support. Thank you to Japanese Auto for ensuring the maintenance and safety of our vehicles.

Marta with an Engelmann Spruce in the Ragged Ruby timber sale

Developing volunteer involvement

This spring BMBP held our annual strategy meeting, which included long-time and committed volunteers and supporters. We are very grateful for caring and involved volunteers, many of whom take on tasks such as leadership roles during the field season, helping to solicit in-kind donations including food for the field season, comment writing help, and more. Our annual strategy meetings are also an opportunity for reviewing our campaign priorities, discussing how well we accomplished our goals from the previous year, and ideas for new strategies.

Fall colors along the Middle Fork of the John Day River, adjacent to the Ragged Ruby timber sale

Upcoming events

In August, we plan to do outreach at campgrounds and at a large music festivals during the days leading up to the solar eclipse. Karen is also planning to speak at the Soil Not Oil Conference in California this fall.

Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project is gearing up for the field season! We will be out in the field starting the beginning of June, and will be field surveying several timber sales this summer. We will be field surveying the Black Mountain (Ochoco National Forest (NF)), Rattlesnake (Malheur NF), Green Ridge (Deschutes NF), and Glass (Umatilla NF) timber sales. We will also complete field surveys for the Ragged Ruby (Malheur NF), and Sunset (Umatilla NF) timber sales we started previously. Timber sales are thousands of acres in size (often 4,000 to 12,000 acres and sometimes larger).

Columbia white-tailed deer in the Ragged Ruby timber sale

We have much more to do! Please support our upcoming field season, and join us in defending and restoring streams and forests on public lands in eastern Oregon. We are a volunteer-based organization, and our volunteers field survey thousands of acres of timber sales every summer. The information they collect is essential for our negotiations with the Forest Service and for our court cases.

Donations are needed to fully support our ecological protection efforts:

Kecia on a large old growth fir stump in the Flat timber sale

$10,000 helps pay for our two staff members to keep working
; $5,000 helps cover our transportation costs, including gas & truck repairs, for our field season & outreach; $ 2,000 may cover the legal expenses for trying to stop harmful logging or toxic herbicide use
; $1,000 helps cover our phone communications
; $500 helps cover photo documentation or copying
; $100 may cover postage costs; $50 contributes to field survey equipment; $25 subsidizes food for volunteers.

In-kind donations needed: working cameras, a laptop, dbh tape measures, and food and tea for volunteers!

Please help as much as you can.

Mariposa lily in the Camp Lick sale

Volunteers are needed for surveying timber sales and lawyers and law students are needed to help with litigation and appeals. Call (541) 385-9167 to volunteer.

Send $ donations or in-kind donations to:

Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project , 27803 Williams Lane Fossil, OR 97830

You can make a one-time online donate by clicking here. You can also become a monthly supporter of our ecological protection work by clicking here.

Bracken with hardwoods and old growth fir trees along Cougar Creek in the Camp Lick timber sale. Commercial logging is proposed along this and many other creeks within this sale.

Thank you for your support!

Rock formation adjacent to a Flat timber sale unit
Karen in the Ragged Ruby timber sale