Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project Turns 25!
Spring Work Report
This June Blue Mountains Biodiversity celebrates 25 years of dedicated forest defense and biodiversity protection efforts. We have stopped tens of thousands of acres of timber sales across eastern Oregon National Forests; significantly modified tens of thousands of acres of other ecologically damaging timber sales; stopped all toxic herbicide use on the Malheur National Forest for 12 years, then negotiated a much more ecologically protective invasive plant management plan for the Malheur; stopped a biocide spraying plan across six National Forests that would have indiscriminately killed moth and butterfly species; trained hundreds of volunteers in forest monitoring skills; and reached thousands of people with our public outreach presentations, workshops, trainings, and media interviews.
Specific examples of our accomplishments include:
*2015: We negotiated a ground-breaking agreement with the Malheur National Forest to: set a timeline for phasing out the use of toxic herbicides; drop the use of highly mobile and persistent Picloram; greatly restrict the use of highly toxic Triclopyr; buffer all identifiable native edible and medicinal plants that are known to be gathered; and emphasize prevention and use the least toxic herbicide use first when herbicides are used. This break-through came out of our 2002 legal case that stopped all herbicide use on the Malheur for 12 years.
*2014: Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project and co-plaintiff Hells Canyon Preservation Council won a 9th Circuit Court Appeal of the Snow Basin timber sale on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, upholding the argument that the Forest Service can’t violate existing Forest Plan standards (in this case in order to log large trees) without adequate analysis. The sale was completely cancelled in 2016, saving over 10,000 large trees.
*2014: We also won our 9th Circuit appeal of the Wallowa Whitman Invasive Plant Management Plan, reducing herbicide use from a proposed 11,000 acres of spraying to less than 1,000 acres in 2012. This lawsuit strengthened case law for cumulative impacts analysis.
*2005: Our legal challenge of the High Roberts Fire Salvage timber sale was joined with the legal challenge by AFSEE, resulting in 2.7 million board feet of logging being dropped over 209 acres.
*Between 2008 and 2010 we temporarily stopped 10,000 acres of logging in the Five Buttes timber sale on the Crescent Ranger District of the Deschutes National Forest and the Deep sale on the Paulina District of the Ochoco National Forest. The Five Buttes sale victory was unfortunately over-turned by a timber industry appeal, opening up almost 4,000 acres of suitable Northern Spotted owl nesting, roosting, and foraging habitat to logging of old growth and mature mixed conifer forest that would render it unsuitable for the Threatened-listed Spotted owl. The Deep sale was later re-initiated as the Jackson sale about 10 years later, with changes that kept it from being a good legal case.
*2002: Asante Riverwind, BMBP’s co-founder, stopped a biocide spraying project against native Douglas fir tussock moth that would have killed all moth and butterfly species in the larval stage at the time of spraying—over six National Forests in Oregon and Washington over millions of acres. This litigation set legal precedent for case law on the Clean Water Act involving point sources of pollution.
*During the Salvage Rider of 1995-1996, with a lot of help by Niel Lawrence of the Natural Resources Defense Council, we managed to stop the lawless logging of roadless areas in eastern Oregon, including the M & O Roadless Area on the Malheur National Forest and the Fox Roadless Area on the Umatilla National Forest.
*In the mid-1990’s, through negotiations we managed to save the Aldrich Roadless Area from logging in the JOBS sale on the Malheur National Forest, also winning significant concessions for the other sale areas, including dropping sale units with the best wildlife habitat.
*In 1998 we won a precedent-setting court victory stopping the Big Tower post-fire “salvage” timber sale, helping to protect Bull trout habitat.
*1993-1995: we supported litigation by the Natural Resources Defense Council with Niel Lawrence that resulted in more protective Forest Plan standards being adopted in Blue Mountains Forest Plans. These include prohibition of logging trees equal to or over 21” at breast height diameter (dbh) except for OSHA hazard trees; increased buffers from logging on streams and creeks to prevent sedimentation and loss of shading and bank stability; Riparian Management Objectives to protect and restore fish habitat; and 30 acre goshawk nest buffers and 400 acre designated goshawk post-fledging areas.
*1992: Karen Coulter, our Director, field-surveyed and documented planned logging of large old growth trees in the East End timber sale on the Heppner Ranger District on the Umatilla National Forest and got the sale reduced from 55 million board feet to 5 million board feet by taking a slideshow exposing the sale with Forest Service science refuting its assumptions across Oregon and then negotiating with the District Ranger. This was within the first full year of the Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project before we received any funding (other than Karen being paid by the Forest Service for sensitive plant inventory and old growth inventory through the Audubon Society’s Adopt-a-Forest program on the same district.) Our first grant was for $10,000 from the Foundation for Deep Ecology in 1993, the year our volunteer internship program began.
Beyond direct ecosystem defense, we have also been part of organizing and educational efforts to end corporate dominance over ecosystems and communities, including:
*organizing the End Corporate Dominance Conference in Portland, that started in 1998 and persisted for three years, attracting 800-1,000 people per year; publishing a people’s guide to the institutions leveraging corporate power called The Elite Consensus by George Draffan; and assisting the organization of the Alliance for Sustainable Jobs and the Environment, a labor-environmental alliance. We’ve trained hundreds of volunteers in forest ecology, wildlife and plant identification, map and compass orienteering, and understanding of environmental law and related public activism. We’ve reached thousands of people with our speaking presentations, workshops, activist skills trainings, and media interviews. We have also worked in alliance with various forest defense and environmental protection groups, as well as to support the treaty rights of indigenous Native Nations.
However we can’t continue our work to protect biodiversity and ecological integrity, and to support social change without public support, so we ask for your assistance in sustaining our work through a strong individual donor base. Below are some further reasons to support Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project:
Our recent work accomplishments and upcoming events since our November 2015 Annual Report:
Direct Forest Defense:
Comments: We submitted comments on: the Prineville and Vale District Bureau of Land Management’s Invasive Plant Management Plans (which propose hundreds of thousands of acres of toxic herbicide use, including very toxic and persistent herbicides); the Ursus, Melvin Butte, and Kew timber sales on the Deschutes National Forest (NF); the Gap timber sale on the Ochoco NF; the Magone sale on the Malheur NF; post-fire logging sales including the Grizzly Fire (Vale BLM), the Grouse Flat and Huntit sales on the Umatilla NF, and the Canyon Creek sale (Malheur NF); the Deep Creek and Tamarack livestock allotment management plans; the Summit OHV Trail System on the Ochoco NF; and the Blue Mountains Forest “Resiliency” Project that would log and burn over half a million acres across major portions of the Ochoco, Umatilla, and Wallowa-Whitman NFs.
Objections: We negotiated with the Forest Service on our objection to the Marsh project on the Deschutes NF (and negotiated, along with Oregon Wild, dropping a lot of the sale units within Big Marsh and a section of new “temporary” road). We recently filed our objections on the Kahler sale (Umatilla NF) and on the East Face sale (Wallowa-Whitman NF) and are about to enter negotiations. We also filed objections and are continuing to challenge the Bendire, Lime Hill, and Windy Ridge proposals on the Vale BLM district, which include aerial spraying of herbicides on over 31,000 acres.
Litigation: This year the Snow Basin timber sale on the Wallowa-Whitman NF was completely cancelled due to our lawsuit waged through the assistance of attorney Tom Buchele and law students of the Earth Rise Law Center! Tom Buchele and Earth Rise law students also wrote comments responding to the SEIS (Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement) stemming from our litigation with Earth Rise Law Center of the Wallowa-Whitman NF Invasive Plant Management Plan.
Speaking presentations: At the Environmental Law Conference in Eugene on March 4th and 5th, Karen Coulter gave three speaking presentations as part of panels on: why collaborative group process is bad public policy, citizen science (profiling our field work), and forest thinning and wild fire. On April 13th she spoke at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington on the history of deforestation and forest defense to an audience of 41 people.
Media interviews: Karen did a cable T.V. interview on the connections between climate change and deforestation, a KBOO community radio interview on what we’re losing as wild lands and biodiversity are diminished and promoting our benefit, and a KBOO news interview announcing our benefit. We also have interviews scheduled on April 21st with a Florence, Oregon community radio station on our work and the history of deforestation in the Pacific Northwest; on Portland community media cable T.V. about Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project on April 22nd; and on May 18th with a Moscow, Idaho community radio station about our work, looming threats to National Forests, and our upcoming field surveying training of volunteers of the Friends of the Clearwater.
Public outreach events: On March 25th we held a benefit for Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project at the Velo Cult bicycle shop in Portland with the help of several volunteers, Velo Cult, and donated concerts by musicians in three bands—Cinder Well, Brenna Sahatjian, and Mistaken for Ghosts, and gave a slideshow about our work, raising over $1,400 to support our continued efforts. We also are also giving an outreach slideshow and film screening about our work, and discussion about forest defense activism at the Bark office in Portland on April 25th.
Upcoming activist trainings: We are giving forest surveying training to: activists from Wisconsin and Cascadia Forest Defenders at a proposed clear-cutting timber sale near Eugene May 1st and 2nd; on May 5th to the Great Old Broads for Wilderness in Brownsville, Oregon; and to volunteers for Friends of the Clearwater in Idaho forest May 20th through May 22nd.
Work toward greater organizational sustainability: We are forming our own 501 (c) 3 non-profit status, have formed a new board (with our first board meeting on May 3rd) to better support our administrative tasks and fundraising toward greater organizational stability. We also had our annual strategy meeting with six volunteers participating on March 27th, and Karen participated in a Rosehip Collective medical response training on April 3rd for better medical response decision-making during our field season in the forest.
Movement-building: We and Bark staff and volunteers are trying to raise the profile of the need to stop the deforestation effects of timber sales in the Pacific Northwest as part of climate movement efforts to slow the pace and escalation of climate change. We participated in a climate change rally organized by Bark in Portland on December 7th, and in a larger climate change rally organized by multiple organizations on December 12th in Portland. We also participated in a rally in Salem on March 17th with other environmental organizations to protest the Oregon governor’s signing of recent legislation attempting to block litigation against recent wolf de-listing by the state of Oregon.
We have much more to do! Please support our upcoming field season, when we train volunteers to help us gather critical information about forest conditions in proposed timber sales to support our comments, objections, and potential litigation. This is the backbone of our work, which gives us a sense of place, the passion to fight for the forest, and greater credibility with the Forest Service and the courts. The field season is also our opportunity to train new activists in forest monitoring skills, forest ecology, wildlife and plant identification, legal and public opportunities for intervention, and map and compass orienteering. This summer we expect to be surveying four new timber sales and parts of two sales we already started last year on the Malheur National Forest; two new timber sales on the Deschutes NF; part of a sale we started last year on the Umatilla NF; a cattle allotment on the Malheur; and potentially spot-checking an enormous 610,000 acre ti
mber sale across large sections of the Ochoco, Umatilla, and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests. We need both volunteers and funding to cover thousands of acres, traveling great distances, and to later copy survey sheets and print out photos for comments and objections on these sales. We also need to continue our other ongoing work on sales already field-surveyed during the field season, largely through our Co-Director Paula Hood’s efforts.
Please donate as much as you can to:
League of Wilderness Defenders (for a tax deduction), Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project, 27803 Williams Lane, Fossil, OR 97830. Or through our website: bluemountainsbiodiversityproject.org
We also appreciate in-kind donation of non-perishable food to help feed hungry volunteers and of field equipment such as cameras, binoculars, GPSes, compasses, and measuring tapes.
Call us if you want to volunteer in the forest this summer: (541) 385-9167