During the final days of the Trump administration, the Forest Service rolled back protections for large trees on National Forests in Eastern Oregon.
This decision was rushed through illegally, without adequate public process.
The protections for large trees in eastern Oregon–known as the 21” Screens–were put into place in the mid-1990’s because of the well-documented deficit of large trees across the landscape due to logging and mismanagement. The Forest Service has rolled back these protections across millions of acres on six National Forests east of the Cascade crest: the Deschutes, Ochoco, Malheur, Umatilla, Wallowa-Whitman, and Fremont-Winema National Forests.
Take action to defend large trees and old forests!Call or email Senator Jeff Merkley’s office to ask that he takes a stand and fights for the protection of large trees in Oregon.
Ask Senator Merkley to work with the Biden administration to reinstate the 21″ Screens protections for large and old trees. Large trees and old growth forests need more protection, not more logging!
Logging large trees will further threaten old-growth forests, and the species that depend on them. Also, the agency’s decision to roll back protections for large trees is exactly the wrong direction for addressing climate change.
Some suggested talking points:
There is still a deficit of large trees on the landscape across eastern Oregon and southeastern Washington.
Many species of wildlife depend on large trees, snags (standing dead trees), and large logs in order to survive. The 21” Wildlife Screens were meant to protect this crucial wildlife habitat.
Species such as Pileated woodpeckers, American martens, White-headed woodpeckers, numerous owls and bats, Black bears, and numerous others very much depend on large trees. Logging large trees will further threaten old-growth dependent species, especially species which are already imperiled or at-risk or depend on fir trees, complex canopies, and mature forests.
Large wood structure is essential for streams and riparian areas, and is key for providing necessary habitat for salmon and other aquatic species.
Large trees make up only 3% of the trees in these forests, yet store approximately 42% of the carbon.
Here are additional resources on the 21″ Screens and the Trump administration’s decision to rollback protections for large trees:
BMBP’s recent update on the 21″ Screens can be found here.
A panel presentation on the Screens can be found here. Panelists Veronica Warnock (Greater Hells Canyon Council), Rob Klavins (Oregon Wild), Paula Hood (Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project), and Rory Isbel (Central Oregon Landwatch) discussed the outgoing Trump administration’s decision to roll back protections for large and old trees under the 21” Screens, and the importance of eastside forests in statewide efforts to protect wildlife, biodiversity, connectivity, and carbon.
Dr. David Mildrexler’s presentation on his research on the importance of large trees in carbon storage east of the Cascade Crest in Oregon and Washington can be found here. Dr. Mildrexler’s research found that large trees (those 21” in diameter or larger) only make up 3% of the trees, yet account for 42% of the above-ground carbon in these forests.
Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project has been working closely with Earthrise Law Center, Greater Hells Canyon Council, Oregon Wild, and Central Oregon Landwatch to oppose the rollback of protections for large trees on eastside forests. In addition, 29 conservation groups and 115 scientists have joined in voicing their unified opposition to the Trump administration’s rollback of the 21″ Screens.
For a more in-depth look at some of the ecological issues and science behind why protecting large and old trees in eastern Oregon is important, please check out this expert report by Dr. Dominick DellaSala and Dr. Bill Baker.
This letter from local, placed-based conservation groups in Eastern Oregon requesting that the Biden administration review the decision to roll back the 21″ Screens under the Climate Executive Order.
A video about the big trees in eastern Oregon and Washington can be found here.
You can also see the Green Oregon action alert page on the 21″ Screens here.
Oregon Wild’s ‘Forever 21?’ blog on the 21″ Screens contains extensive background information and history on the 21″ Screens.
Thank you for speaking up for large trees and old forests in eastern Oregon!
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