Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Update: Nedsbar Timber Sale

Unit 25-23 in the Trillium Mountain portion of the Dakubetede Roadless Area supports open groves of large, fire resistant Douglas fir. The unit is proposed for commerical logging in the Nedsbar Timber Sale, but it should be seen as a "reference condition," providing a model for forest health and resilience. Treatments proposed in unit 25-23 would reduce canopy cover to 40%, impacting Northern spotted owl habitat and likely increasing fuel loads due to increased "shrub response" in the understory. The unit is now marked for logging and is in need of community monitoring and review. The unit should be canceled.

Last winter the Siskiyou Crest Blog, Klamath Forest Alliance and the Applegate Neighborhood Network joined forces to oppose the Nedsbar Timber Sale, a large, landscape-scale logging project proposed in the Little and Upper Applegate Valleys of southwestern Oregon.

The Nedsbar Timber Sale was developed by the Medford District BLM in response to a Swanson-Superior Lumber Co. Lawsuit in U.S. District Court. The court decision required the BLM to increase timber production in Southern Oregon on Medford and Roseburg District lands. This decision has since been struck down by the U.S. Court of Appeals and is now null and void.

Unfortunately, the design, unit selection and development of the proposed action for the Nedsbar Timber Sale was heavily influenced by the now invalid Swanson-Superior court ruling. The now overturned court decision was interpreted by BLM to require aggressive and unsustainable timber production in the driest, most fire-prone watershed west of Oregon's Cascade Mountains. The agency had originally included nearly all available timber in the Little Applegate area, to satisfy the demands of the Swanson-Superior lawsuit. 

The original Nedbar Timber Sale proposal included "structural retention regeneration harvest" units — another name for clear-cut logging. This technique has not been used in recent years on federal lands in the Applegate watershed because it significantly increases fire hazards, and because it is extremely difficult to adequately "regenerate" conifer stands in the harsh climate and terrain found here in the rain shadow of the Siskiyou Crest. The BLM also proposed logging in important Northern spotted owl habitat, in late-seral and old-growth stands, and in roadless wildlands.

Unit 27-20 in the Trillium Mountain portion of the Nedsbar Timber Sale. Extensive road construction through roadless oak woodland would be required to log this isolated north slope stand. Many old-growth trees can be found throughout the stand, which contains high quality Northern spotted owl habitat. Unit 27-20 should be canceled.

Luckily, the Klamath Forest Alliance and the Siskiyou Crest Blog started the Nedsbar Community Monitoring Project and conducted extensive field work, surveying all 70-plus units in the timber sale. The information was publicized on the Siskiyou Crest Blog and incorporated into the efforts of the Nedsbar Community Alternative Working Group. Much was achieved through this process, including forcing the BLM to cancel numerous timber sale units, amend all "structural retention regeneration harvest" units, and drop some sections of proposed new road development.

The field work also provided vital information to area residents and activists who were creating an ecologically-based alternative to the Nedsbar Timber Sale, called the Nedsbar Community Alternative. This proposal would maintain all Northern spotted owl habitat, reduce fuels, encourage forest health, eliminate all proposed new road construction, and institute a 20” diameter limit to protect large, old trees. 

The BLM has agreed to analyze the Nedsbar Community Alternative in the upcoming Nedsbar Environmental Analysis (due out April 15, 2016), along with the BLM's proposed action. To be clear, they have agreed to analyze the Community Alternative, not to actually chose this ecologically and economically viable option. Despite strong community support for the Community Alternative, the BLM is currently designing a "proposed action" that includes many miles of new road construction and a large number of roadless, late seral, or old-growth logging units. Field Manager, John Gerritsma, is responsible for this decision. 

Unit 25-20 supports old-growth mixed conifer forest in open, diverse groves. This unit, located on the roadless, north slope of Trillium Mountain in the Little Applegate Canyon, provides excellent spotted owl habitat, fire resilient stands, and diverse stand structure. The unit is proposed for commercial logging, new road construction, and the development of new log landings in the Nedsbar Timber Sale. Unit 25-20 should be canceled.

After a long hiatus, the BLM has recently begun marking timber sale units and preparing for implementation of the Nedsbar Timber Sale. Additional Community Monitoring is needed to review the agency's tree removal mark, especially in the most controversial and intact forests proposed for industrial logging. Likewise, community members must continue to show broad-based support for the Nedsbar Community Alternative and opposition to the BLM's proposed action.

The BLM has refused to cancel numerous of the most egregious units proposed for industrial logging. These units are relicts from the original Nedsbar Timber Sale proposal, intended to maximize timber production at the expense of other important resource values. Numerous old-growth and late-seral units remain in the BLM's current proposed action. These proposed units would include uncut roadless habitat, miles of proposed new road construction, extensive impacts to the northern spotted owl, and dramatic increases in fuel loads due to heavy canopy removal and the associated increase in brush and other flammable regeneration in the understory.

Unit 14-30 in the Buncom Roadless Area is targeted for commercial logging in the Nedsbar Timber Sale. This uncut, natural stand contains large, old-growth trees, fire resilient stand conditions, minimal understory fuels, and excellent wildlife habitat. Much of the unit is also nesting, roosting, and foraging habitat for the Northern spotted owl. Unit 14-30 should be canceled.

Recently community members from the Nedsbar Community Alternative Working Group have proposed to the BLM, that collaboration continue on the west half of the Nedsbar Timber Sale on Upper Applegate Road and Grouse Creek, using the framework of the Applegate Adaptive Management Area (AMA). The AMA promotes community collaboration and innovative forestry practices. Focusing on the west half would allow us to emphasize shared goals and avoid the controversy involved with the numerous units concentrated in the Little Applegate Canyon that include intact native forest in roadless wildlands. These units lie within important wildlife habitat and are in the viewshed of the Sterling Ditch Trail. Unfortunately, the BLM has refused to accept this proposal, putting into question their commitment to collaboration and ecologically appropriate timber practices.  

As a community we need to keep the pressure on and advocate for real conservation-based solutions, not token gestures. Please consider contributing to the Klamath Forest Alliance by supporting our on-the-ground efforts or making a donation. We can not continue this important work without your support. Our current priorities include: surveying the trees marked for cutting in controversial units of intact, old forest, documenting the BLM mark, publicizing those results, advocating for cancelation of these inappropriate timber sale units, building support for the Nedsbar Community Alternative, and demonstrating the strong community opposition to the BLM's proposed action.  The units highlighted in this post have been marked, but have not been monitored by community members or Klamath Forest Alliance activists. We cannot be complacent and expect the BLM to do the right thing. They must be encouraged with valid science, community activism, public pressure, and effective, informed collaboration. Please support these efforts.

Please send the BLM a holiday email. Ask them to merge the west half of the Nedsbar Project with collaborative AMA efforts. Please also ask that units: 14-30. 14-31, 15-30, 25-20, 25-21, 25-23, 26-20, 26-21, 27-20, 28-10, 28-11, 33-30, 34-30 be canceled. Finally, express your support for the Nedsbar Community Alternative. Bring in the New Year with a little support for the wildlands of the Applegate Valley. Stop Nedsbar!

Send your emails to:
State Director, Jerry Perez
Field Manager, John Gerritsma
Silviculture, Kristi Mastrofini

Donate to Klamath Forest Alliance to support our work.

Please specify that your donation is for the Nedsbar Timber Sale

Unit 15-30 in the Buncom Roadless Area burned at low severity in 1987 and supports open, fire resilient characharacteristics. The stand needs no treatment and should be canceled.

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