Scoping Comments Needed for the “Morgan Nesbit Forest Resiliency Project” timber sale by April 7th
The Morgan Nesbit plans to log 17,585 acres in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. The proposed Morgan Nesbit timber sale is located in a spectacular large planning area overlapping the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area and the Wallowa Valley Ranger District of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, and is adjacent to the Eagle Cap Wilderness Area about 20 miles southeast of Joseph, Oregon. Commercial logging is planned for the highest percentage of never logged forest in a timber sale that we have surveyed outside of Inventoried Roadless Areas. During two seasons of field surveying the proposed logging sale units, we have witnessed a great deal of verdant, lush moist mixed conifer forest with precious stream systems, creeks, and fens; and abundant wildlife, including elk; deer; coyotes; Gray wolves heard; Black bear foraging sign, scat, and claw marks; woodpecker species; and many other bird species. We have photographed beautiful scenic views of the deep canyons from never logged forest on steep slopes slated for logging.
Heavy logging, including clearcutting, is planned for many never logged areas, great wildlife habitat, and extremely steep slopes directly over major-fish-bearing creeks and their tributary streams.
There is much at stake, as the Morgan Nesbit logging would fragment an important wildlife corridor linking the Eagle Cap Wilderness Area to Hells Canyon. Rare and far-roaming wildlife species that may be using this forested corridor may include Canada lynx, Pacific fisher, Wolverine, American marten, Gray wolf, moose, and possible Grizzly bear from the Wilderness Area and recovery efforts. Logging is planned for extremely steep slopes directly over major-fish-bearing creeks and their tributary streams on easily displaced ash soils, threatening loss of suitable habitat for Threatened Mid-Columbia Steelhead trout and Bull trout from sedimentation of the streams. The area encompasses home land territory of the Nez Perce tribe. Planned extensive heavy logging and intensive removal of biomass could threaten their cultural uses and treaty rights. Cultural uses of the land that could be impaired include loss of suitable elk habitat and creek degradation that could impede recovery of Chinook salmon.
Planned commercial logging includes 708 acres of devastating clearcuts, 14,097 acres of commercial thinning up to “high intensity”, 917 acres of commercial thinning with clearcuts up to 5 acres in size over 20% of a sale unit area, and 461 acres of destructive commercial logging within Riparian Habitat Conservation Areas. The total commercial logging planned encompasses 17,586 acres. The Forest Service is also planning to log large—and inevitably often old—trees, with logging of Grand firs (the dominant overstory species for most of the moist mixed conifer forest) up to 30” diameter at breast height. As they are adopting the Forest Service amendment scrapping the 21” dbh limit for logging live trees, it is unclear if they would be logging large trees of other species, as the amendment allows this under a voluntary guideline instead of an enforceable standard.
“Shaded Fuel Breaks” of non-commercial thinning are planned for 100-1,000 feet from roads on each side, add up to excessive loss of hiding cover over 6,448 acres, in addition to 3,131 acres of non-commercial thinning in commercial logging sale units, and prescribed fire over a huge area: 74,840 acres, regardless of whether it is dry forest or naturally moist mixed conifer forest.
Such excessive logging and biomass reduction would be likely to result in extensive loss of forest cover, leaving clearcut barren ground and great loss of forest density needed by many species for protection from predators (including hunters) or protection from competition for prey. These affected species include: Rocky Mountain elk; Gray wolf; American marten; Pileated woodpecker; Northern goshawk; Northern Pygmy owl; and various neotropical migratory songbirds that rely on multi-layered forest canopy.
Although this timber sale is called the “Morgan Nesbit Forest Resiliency Project”, most of the management proposed would impair forest resiliency to natural disturbance such as wild fire, insect outbreaks, tree diseases, and unprecedented climate change. The only management proposed that could constitute restoration is 307 acres of aspen enhancement by felling, girdling, and topping conifer trees (potentially including large trees); 136 acres of wet meadow enhancement by felling conifer trees and non-commercial thinning; and replacement of 11 culverts to increase fish passage.
Please let the Forest Service know your concerns about the “Morgan Nesbit Forest Resiliency Project” timber sale, by sending scoping comments by April 7th!
Submit comments electronically to the project’s webpage at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=58961. Select the “Comment/Object on Project” link in the “Get Connected” group at the right-hand side of the project webpage.
Or mail comments to: Brian Anderson, Wallow Valley District Ranger, P.O. Box 905, Joseph, OR 97846
Additional information can be provided by contacting Alison Arnold, the Forest Service Environmental Coordinator at email@example.com.
Thank you for helping show public response to the Morgan Nesbit timber sale!
To donate to support our timber sale monitoring, field surveying of proposed timber sales, and potential litigation, please see our website at bluemountainsbiodiversityproject.org or contact Paula Hood at (510)715-6238 or by email at paulahood@firstname.lastname@example.org.
To donate in-kind field surveying equipment or food for volunteers, or to find out more about volunteering with us, leave a message with your name and address for Karen Coulter at (541) 385-9167 or send in-kind donations to: Karen Coulter, Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project, 27803 Williams Lane, Fossil, OR 97830.