Ellis timber sale

Ellis timber sale: More than 56,960 acres of heavy logging in one sale!

We need help to defeat the largest timber sale proposed so far in Eastern Oregon under the guise of “restoration” for resiliency and reducing future wild fire severity.

Volunteers surveying Upper Touchet Timber Sale in Umatilla National Forest, July 2018.

The Ellis timber sale is an enormous timber sale with heavy logging down to very low basal areas, and includes clearcutting.

The proposed timber sale would take place in the Umatilla National Forest 7 miles west of Ukiah, OR. Commercial logging would additionally occur on up to 33, 730 acres (283 miles) of road and trail corridors 300 to 500 feet from either side of the roads or trails, along with small diameter thinning, burning, and pruning. The timber sale would cover about 60% to 90% of the 114,834 acre project area.

BMBP is planning to field survey the Ellis sale during the summer of 2019.

We are concerned by potential impacts of the Ellis project to ecological integrity and biodiversity and forest structural complexity. The Forest Service should not be logging in late and old forest structure, including designated Dedicated Old Growth Areas and Replacement Old Growth Areas. The area already has a great deficit in mature and large trees in the area compared to historical conditions. Often, the Forest Service improperly uses project-specific Forest Plan Amendments as a loophole, despite court rulings that the way the Forest Service is using these amendments is illegal. The Forest Service needs to stop using Forest Plan amendments to effectively violate Forest Plan standards. 

Roadless areas and undeveloped lands provide high-quality wildlife habitats, support numerous at-risk species, and are essential for protecting clean water. The Forest Service should not log within these areas.

We are also concerned about potential logging within streamside corridors (“Riparian Habitat Conservation Areas”). Riparian habitats are delicate habitats that are sensitive to disturbance. They are disproportionately important for many wildlife species, and are essential for protecting clean water and aquatic species. We are very worried that logging in streamside corridors and above creeks will negatively impact aquatic and riparian species, including fish listed under the Endangered Species Act such as Sensitive Redband trout, Sensitive Columbia Spotted frog, and Sensitive salamander, mussel, and macroinvertebrate species.

New road construction and the opening of closed roads in this sale would further fragment forests and damage water quality and wildlife habitat. The roads systems on National Forests are already out-of-control, severely bloated, and causing widespread harm. The Forest Service does not need any more roads, and should start decommissioning roads instead of reopening them or building more.

Further logging in the Ellis sale will harm numerous species and their habitats. This includes species such as Pileated woodpecker, suitable habitat for Lewis’ woodpecker, White-headed woodpecker (old wild fire burned forest), and Blackbacked woodpecker (recent wild fire burns), and suitable habitat for Three-toed woodpecker (mature Lodgepole pine forest). We are also concerned about degradation or destruction of suitable habitat for American marten and possible Pacific Fisher habitat. Logging in this sale would degrade or destroy elk and deer security cover, including forest thermal and hiding cover. Neotropical songbirds and rare and sensitive plants may also be threatened by this sale.

Toxic herbicides have no place on public lands. Toxic herbicide use on Ventenata grass (which is proposed), should be dropped, as it could likely poison other native grasses.

Cumulative Impacts: The Ellis sale area overlaps multiple timber sales that were logged within the last 27 years, a very short rotation for commercial logging that is not supported by ecological science. The sale proposal includes an undefined acreage of clearcutting. It is clear that the over-riding purpose of this sale is not restoration or wild fire reduction, but forest structure removal for private corporate profit. Among many other ecological issues at stake due in relation to the cumulative impacts of this sale, soil productivity and integrity are a serious concern from repeated logging.

Climate change: Logging will exacerbate negative effects on forests and streams associated with climate change. Climate change is warming streams, shrinking species’ ranges, causing habitat loss, and increasing forest disturbance. Logging will worsen these and related issues. To help preserve forests and biodiversity in the face of climate change, the Forest Service should be creating protected core habitats with strong connectivity between them, NOT going forward with widespread logging. Also, mature and old forests store more carbon than logged forests. The Forest Service should drop logging in order to sequester carbon, and thereby slow or lessen climate change impacts.

We suggest scrapping this over-management project entirely or adopting a “restoration only” action alternative with no commercial logging.

For more thorough information and  talking points for the next public comment period for this sale, we have provided longer write up on the Ellis Timber Sale as a pdf below:

Ellis sale action alert-long version

The USFS materials about this sale, including maps, can be reviewed here.

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