Old growth Ponderosa pines killed by herbicides outside of Sisters, Oregon

These pictures were taken in June of 2019 next to HWY 20 just outside of Sisters, Oregon. We passed at least a dozen such piles of logged trees, which included many old growth Ponderosa pines– likely hundreds. It was heartbreaking and infuriating. This stretch of road was lined with beautiful old growth Ponderosa pines, most of which are now being cut down.

In 2018, the Forest Service approved the decision to log hundreds of these large, old growth Ponderosa pine along HWY 20 in the Deschutes National Forest. The Ponderosa pines are dead, dying, or otherwise affected by the Oregon Department of Transportation’s application of the herbicide Perspective. Apparently, no one read the label on the herbicide, which specifically warns of harm to non-target plant species, including Ponderosa pines.

Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project is extremely concerned that key questions and issues were not addressed by the Forest Service’s very limited public comment period for this project. The timber sale was done under a “categorical exclusion”, which severely limits environmental review and public comments, and eliminates the opportunity for the public to object to the project.

Logging along Highway 20 just outside of Sisters, Oregon. Hundreds of old growth Ponderosa pines were killed by negligent toxic herbicide use, with the Forest Service and Oregon Department of Transportation failing to adequately consider warnings on the herbicide label which stated that trees such as Ponderosa pines may be vulnerable to the herbicide.

For example, we still do not have clear answers from the USFS about issues such as:

* What is the Forest Service doing to ensure that old growth trees along roadside corridors are protected from irresponsible herbicide use and logging across the region? This is not the only example of spraying and/or logging of old growth trees along highways: https://bluemountainsbiodiversityproject.org/roadside-old-…/

* Why isn’t the Forest Service calling for compensation from ODOT for the value of the trees– money which could be used for much-needed, ecologically sound restoration projects?

* Why wasn’t the public warned of toxic herbicide use in this area of heavy recreational use close to Sisters, Black Butte, and other residential communities?

* Why was there no public comment process asking for public input for this use of herbicides, particularly in such a popular area with a walking trail?

* BMBP strongly advocated for greater public input and a full environmental review for this logging project, and are still very concerned about the ecological impacts of this sale.

Its also interesting to note that a few years ago, community outcry saved the old growth trees in this scenic corridor from being logged. There were proposals to widen the road and sell many of these same trees in a timber sale. Local activists were extremely relieved to have stopped the sale….only to lose them now to irresponsible herbicide use.

Here are some interesting articles about recent attempts to restrict the use of Perspective in Oregon, largely a result of the HWY 20 logging project:

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