Green Ridge timber sale (Green Ridge “Landscape Restoration Project”), Sisters Ranger District, Deschutes National Forest Project area: 25,000 acres. Acres of proposed logging: 22,636
Species threatened by proposed logging within the Green Ridge sale: We are extremely worried that logging in this sale would degrade or destroy habitat for: Northern spotted owls, Northern goshawk, American marten, Bull trout, amphibians, Great grey owls, Black-backed and Three-toed woodpeckers, and Pacific fishers.
Northern spotted owls: The US Forest Service (USFS) is proposing to log in 1,217 acres of Northern spotted owl dispersal habitat. This will cause further fragmentation and loss of important spotted owl habitat. USFS proposals to target forest “fuels” is unfortunately logging that reduces Northern spotted owl habitat. Spotted owls need complex, multi-layered forest canopy structure– USFS logging to reduce “fuels” will reduce the habitat components that spotted owls rely upon.
Ecological issues such as wildfire: The Forest Service claims Grand firs and other less fire-resistant trees are present in larger numbers and higher densities across the landscape than they were historically, as a consequence of fire suppression. However, the Forest Service abuses this rationale by applying it overly broadly and aggressively, including to areas with ample evidence of historic mixed-conifer and high-density forests, such as those in north and east facing slopes; deep gulches and narrow valleys; forests on soils that hold more nutrients and moisture (such as ash soils); and other areas that show historic evidence of supporting mixed-conifer forests in general and Grand fir in particular. The Forest Service is using flawed assumptions that lack adequate scientific backing in order to log large trees across many thousands of acres—despite the documented deficit in large trees across the landscape and their importance to wildlife, including ESA-listed species such as Northern spotted owls. Over the last 27 years, BMBP has documented widespread evidence of historic high-density, old growth fir in areas where the Forest Service proposes extensive logging of mature and large Grand fir.
Streams and water quality: The Green Ridge sale proposes to log within streamside corridors across 1,700 acres. Logging next to streams can harm water quality and wildlife habitat. We are opposed to logging adjacent to streams because of the well-documented and inherent degradation of water quality and riparian habitats. Logging in streamside corridors can exacerbate water quality degradation; increase road-related impacts and fragmentation; cause further deficits in mature and large trees; degrade complex, mature, and mixed-conifer forests; decrease connectivity; degrade wildlife habitat; and threaten ecological integrity.
To make matters worse, the Forest Service claims that they do not have any stream temperature data for streams within the Green Ridge sale. This is extremely problematic because it will be impossible to determine the effects of logging next to streams on water quality or aquatic species that rely on clean, cold water.
BMBP is committed to upholding environmental protections for streams and streamside habitats, and ensuring that logging along streams does not gain a foothold on public lands in eastern Oregon. The USFS is currently proposing to log in streamside corridors in numerous timber sales, with such proposals commonly included in many of the large timber sales on public lands in eastern Oregon. We have spent hundreds of hours on the ground, field surveying the proposed logging projects within streamside corridors.
Improper use of Forest Plan Amendments to skirt ecological protection standards: The USFS is proposing to decrease hiding and thermal cover for deer to levels below those mandated by the Forest Service’s own Forest Plan standards. This means that the Forest Service would log forests to the point that they would be so open that they would not provide the necessary canopy cover for deer to hide from predators, humans, and other disturbances or threats. Thermal cover is meant to ameliorate both summer and winter temperature extremes. The existing Forest Plan standard states that hiding cover for deer should be present on at least 30% of the area, and thermal cover should make up 40% of the area. However, the Forest Service is attempting to improperly use a Forest Plan Amendment as a loophole to skirt their own regulations. The Forest Service is proposing to leave less than 30% hiding cover in the Lower Metolius Watershed, and to further reduce thermal cover, including in areas that are already below Forest Plan standards.
Roads: While we are heartened that the Forest Service will be decommissioning 39 miles of roads within the project area, we are concerned that approximately 15 miles of new “temporary” road will be constructed, including across multiple streams and in steep and relatively unfragemented areas.
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