Action Alert! Speak up to defend forests in the Ellis timber sale

Typical mixed-conifer forest in the Ellis sale

Help Us Stop the Enormous and Devastating Ellis Timber Sale!
Please send comments to the Forest Service no later than April 18th. Your comments make a difference.

Badger with old growth Douglas fir log. Downed logs provide crucial wildlife habitat.

The “Ellis Integrated Vegetation Project” timber sale would be of unprecedented size for a green forest timber sale, with commercial logging planned for between 46,247 and 84,750 acres in the Umatilla National Forest. The timber sale’s Environmental Impact Statement has five “alternatives” which propose a range of acres of logging, road related impacts, logging practices, and severity of impacts. Alternatives 2 is the Forest Service’s proposed alternative, and includes an astounding 84,750 acres of commercial logging (an unprecedented 77% of the 110,218-acre project area). Alternative 5 includes large tree logging with no upper limit to the number of large Douglas and Grand fir to be cut, and also proposes logging across 84,750 acres.  

Ruby-crowned kinglet in the Ellis sale

Recreational use of the area is high for bow hunting; rifle hunting; late spring through fall camping; ATV riding; hiking; Mountain bike riding; fishing and boating at Penland Lake; firewood collection; snowmobiling and cross-country skiing; and foraging for wild mushrooms, huckleberries, and medicinal plants.  There are three developed campgrounds, many dispersed campsites, a rental cabin, Penland Lake, Gibson Cave, and an interpretive site at the ridge of scenic Potamus Canyon, as well as hiking trails to and around Gibson Cave through apparently never logged forest.  Most of these recreational uses would be severely degraded by the planned timber sale.  The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla could lose their ability to use some of their treaty rights and cultural practices in the area if such all-encompassing heavy logging takes place at such a large scale.

We are deeply concerned by foreseeable widespread loss of suitable habitat for: Rocky mountain elk; woodpecker species—especially Pileated woodpecker and the declining Three-toed woodpecker; American marten; Northern goshawk and Cooper’s hawk; Neotropical migratory songbirds; Great Gray owl; and potential Pacific fisher and Canada lynx, as well as recovering Gray wolves.

Aquatic garter snake in the Ellis sale

Some of our other major concerns:

* The huge scale of the sale and the intensity of logging planned for the excessively expansive fuel breaks up to one and a half miles out to either side of roads, forming huge contiguous blocks of what would become barren open stands;

* Commercial logging within old growth forest and cool moist mixed conifer forest under alternatives 2, 4, and 5;

* Logging of an unlimited number of large (and inevitably mostly old) Douglas and Grand firs up to 30” dbh under alternative 5, which should not be legal since it was not discussed in the scoping stage of the public comment process;

* Extensive logging of undeveloped lands that have never been logged or roaded—from 16,785 acres under alternative 3 and 17,103 acres under alternative 4 to 27,515 acres under alternatives 2 and 5;

* Damaging commercial logging within Riparian Habitat Conservation Area buffers along streams and wet meadows and aspen under alternatives 4, 2, and 5 in violation of Forest Plan requirements;

Ember with old growth Douglas fir in the Ellis sale

* Significant long-term impacts to soils on a landscape scale that would be the worst under alternatives 2 and 5, less under alternative 4, and least for the action alternatives under alternative 3;

* Drastic logging loss of suitable marten habitat: 56% reduction of suitable habitat (loss of 14,021 acres) under alternatives 2 and 5, with less loss from alternative 4 and much less loss under alternative 3;

* Extreme loss of suitable Pileated woodpecker habitat to logging: losing 41,402 acres of 43,578 total acres of Pileated woodpecker source habitat, with 41,109 acres lost under alternative 4 and 35,285 acres lost under alternative 3;

* Construction of “temporary” roads that are rarely decommissioned under all action alternatives except alt. 3, and insufficient mileage of road closures and especially of road decommissioning under alternatives 3 and 4;

* Grossly inadequate analysis in the Environmental Impact Statement of effects analysis to forest values, with significant omissions of standard information that would inform public comments and decision-making, and failure to disclose scientific controversy and to use the full range of best available science.

We are asking the Forest Service either to rewrite the EIS with more detailed, in-depth analysis and release a new EIS for another 45 day comment period, or scrap this timber sale.

Margret with big old growth Douglas fir log in the Ellis sale

Alternative 3 is a reasonably good faith attempt to meet many of our concerns but would need to be scaled down significantly, avoid logging in undeveloped lands, and include significantly more road decommissioning and road closures. Alternative 3 was designed to focus thinning on dry forest that was historically more open; reduce the width and logging intensity of planned fuel breaks; avoid logging in old growth forest; avoid logging in most moist, cool mixed conifer and Lodgepole pine forest; not commercially log sale units within sight of the Scenic Byway; and not construct “temporary” roads.  Overall, alternative 3 has the least amount of commercial logging, but also the least amount of road closures and decommissioning.

Please help us stop the Ellis timber sale or significantly reduce the scale and intensity of proposed commercial logging, road construction, and re-opening of closed roads.

Another photo of the Ruby-crowned kinglet (also pictured above) in the Ellis sale

Comments are due on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement no later than April 18th!

Email comments to:

Or you can mail comments to: Doug McKay, Heppner District Ranger, P.O. Box 7,  Heppner, OR  97836

For more information or to acquire a copy of the DEIS, contact: Elizabeth Berkley, Project Team Lead, at (541) 278-3814 or

Thank you!  To volunteer with our summer timber sale field surveying, call (541) 385-9167

Please send donations to:  Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project, 27803 Williams Lane, Fossil, OR  97830 or through our website:  

Oregon checkermallow in the Ellis sale