Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Medford District BLM Timber Program Actively Increases Fire Risks throughout Southwestern Oregon

A stand of mature, fire-resistant forest proposed for group selection logging in the Bear Grub Timber Sale. Nearly every tree in this photographs is proposed for removal in a group selection "opening."
The Klamath Forest Alliance recently teamed up with the Applegate Neighborhood Network to publish a detailed analysis of recent timber sales approved or proposed by the Medford District BLM. The report, "Medford District BLM Fire/Fuel Analysis for Timber Sales Authorized under the 2016 Resource Management Plan for Southwestern Oregon," explores the potential impacts associated with these timber sales and highlights BLM's own analysis, which concludes fire hazards will increase following the majority of commercial logging treatments.




This report demonstrates that since 2016 roughly two-thirds of the acres approved for commercial logging by the Medford District BLM can be expected to increase fire hazards for at least 20 years. This can include group selection logging, regeneration logging and even commercial thinning that compromises canopy conditions. 

By removing large, fire resistant trees and replacing them with dense, young vegetation, fire hazards will increase and forest resilience will decrease in many areas subjected to BLM logging treatments. Unfortunately, if implemented, the currently approved and proposed timber sales on the Medford District BLM will increase fire hazards across Southwestern Oregon, threatening many rural homes with increased fire risks. 

Dense, young vegetation regenerates in a group selection logging unit cut in the BLM's 2016 Sterling Sweeper Timber Sale above Sterling Creek in the Little Applegate Valley. Four years after logging treatments occurred this stand is now drier, more windswept and choked with highly flammable fuel loads. Fire hazards have dramatically increased in this once fire resistant stand of mature forest.
Our analysis includes the following Medford District BLM Timber Sales:
  • Clean Slate Timber Sale outside Selma, Oregon
  • Oh Windy Timber Sale and Blown Fortune Timber Sale in the watersheds of both Cow Creek and the Rogue River
  • Griffin Halfmoon Timber Sale near Howard Prairie in the Greensprings
  • Bear Grub Timber Sale in the mountains between Ruch in the Applegate Valley and Talent, in the Rogue Valley.  

Take Action!
After reading our report please reach out to your public officials and demand that the Bear Grub Timber Sale be canceled. Ask that group selection logging, regeneration logging and heavy commercial thinning that both compromises forest canopy conditions and increases fire hazards be discontinued on public lands. These logging methods are inconsistent with the BLM's 2016 Resource Management Plan for Southwestern Oregon, which directs the agency to reduce fire hazards and increase forest resilience in both the harvest land base and in conservation reserves.

Contacts:

Elizabeth Burghard, Medford District BLM, District Manager:
eburghar@blm.gov

Malcolm McGeary, Natural Resource Director for Senator Wyden:
Malcolm_McGeary@wyden.senate.gov

Amy Amrhein, Southwestern Oregon Staff for Senator Merkley
Amy_Amrhein@merkley.senate.gov







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