Action Alert! West End CE Timber Sale

Action Alert! Please help us stop heavy logging in the West End Categorical Exclusion (CE) on the Umatilla National Forest!

The Heppner Range District put out a very skimpy one-page scoping letter that deceptively implies that management of up to 3,000 acres in this over-logged area would consist of commercial thinning, small diameter thinning, and prescribed fire, when in fact they plan a sale with extremely heavy logging. The Forest Service is planning virtual clearcutting, which would leave very few trees per acre (i.e., 0-40 and 0-60 square feet of basal area retained).

The categorical exclusion the Forest Service is planning to use under the Farm Bill is intended for insects and disease epidemics, and excludes any further environmental analysis, public comment periods, and any opportunity for public objections. Yet the Forest Service field trip we recently attended, as well as BMBP’s on-the-ground surveys, revealed numerous proposed sale units that contain forest stands with no evidence of insect epidemics. Some of these stands contain the last remaining old growth moist mixed conifer wildlife habitat in the area. We found sale units on very steep slopes, and old growth units heavily used by Pileated woodpecker, black bears, mule deer, and elk.

Categorical exclusions were designed for projects with high levels of public support, such replacing road culverts to restore fish passage. Yet the West End CE sale would pose significant impacts to wildlife habitat, soil integrity, forest carbon storage, and recreation values in a forest that has already been severely over-logged. In recent decades, the Forest Service had moved away from clearcutting in this part of eastern Oregon because the forest fails to recover on such marginal soils.

We are asking you to help us stop the use of a Categorical Exclusion for this destructive sale and to stop planned heavy logging, including virtual clearcutting, by sending your comments to the Forest Service by November 12th.

We are asking the Forest Service to:

  • Drop this sale
  • Or use EIS to fully analyze the potential impacts and allow for informed public comments and objections
  • Drop planned heavy logging and virtual clearcutting for this and upcoming timber sales
  • Don’t log in old growth forests. (Although they would retain trees equal to or greater than 21”, such heavy logging would destroy structural complexity and greater canopy closure needed by old growth associated species such as Pileated woodpecker, marten, and Northern goshawk.

Please send your comments NOW (by November 12th) to:

You can mail comments to: Brandon Houck ATTN: Diane Shirley, Heppner Ranger District, PO Box 7, Heppner, Oregon 97836. Comments must be postmarked by Nov. 12th

You can also submit comments electronically to the Umatilla National Forest project webpage by selecting “Comment on Project” and “Get Connected Group” on the right side of the page. Include the project name “West End Farm Bill CE Project” in the subject line. The project webpage is http://www.fs.fed.us/nepa/fs-usda-pop.php/?project=56315

Unfortunately the Forest Service webpage (the only way to submit electronic comments) has been having trouble. If you tried to comment but were unable to access the Forest Service webpage, please let us know at paula@bluemountainsbiodiversityproject.org or send us a message on our FaceBook page.

Thank you for helping us show opposition to this sale!

Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project needs your donations and your volunteer time! Please contact us at 541-385-9167 or 27803 Williams Lane, Fossil, Oregon 97830

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