Umpqua Watersheds Blog

Conservation, UW Blogs

Conservation Update

Published March 16th, 2020 in Conservation, UW Blogs

By Diana Pace

Elliott State Forest

The Elliott State Forest (ESF) is 93,000 acres of the Central Oregon coast range and the only significant state owned old growth forest in Oregon. Oregon State University (OSU) and the College of Forestry are in negotiations with the state for the future management direction of the ESF. In December 2019, the State Land Board, OSU, conservation and other organizations met in Salem and Reedsport where Geoff Huntington and Jenna Stillman of OSU presented the Elliott State Research Forest Guiding Principles Draft Plan. Coast Range Forest Association, Coos Watershed Association, Audubon, Trout Unlimited, Local Coos Tribe and Umpqua Watersheds expressed their concerns, questions and priorities in a harmonious and in depth discussion on the Plan.

Areas of concern were: 1) forest, water, fish and wildlife health; 2)carbon sequestration, research and experimental design; 3) recreation; 4) setting land aside for protection and 5) thinning. The community organizations recommended that the college use a diverse and interdisciplinary research advisory committee integrated with other university departments using the best science for environmental stewardship and best logging practices. The conservation groups expressed opposition to any aerial spraying.

The meeting outcome and discussions were relayed to OSU Dean Davis by Mr. Huntington where he responded with answers to the areas of concern and interest. In the Research Forest Proposal and Management Plan being developed by OSU, the organizations are asking for a commitment to protect old growth and mature forests and use of the forest to sequester, mitigate and store carbon. OSU plans more meetings and discussions with the organizations.

Blue and Gold Roseburg BLM Timber Sale

On January 6, 2020, six members of Umpqua Watersheds joined Cascadia Wildlands on a trip to field check the timber sale near Tyee. Local UW associated participants consisted of a former BLM wildlife biologist, a fisheries expert, a wildlife biologist extremely familiar with the area, and members of the wilderness committee. BLM provided no scoping notice, public hearing, hike or open house. We field checked as many of the sale units as we could along Yellow Creek, Little Canyon Creek and Bear Creek and sent comments to the BLM. We found steep rocky sites, degraded waterways, Northern Spotted Owl (NSO) habitat, and adjoining degraded private lands with large clear-cuts.

Three priority issues were presented in the field check report to the BLM.

  1. This land is abused and degraded due to the checkerboard ownership pattern and the cumulative impacts from clearcutting and extensive road systems.
  2. Historic NSO nest sites are in the proposed harvest area and immediate vicinity.
  3. A huge stream restoration investment project was made in Yellow Creek in the past and this sale would add to the cumulative negative effects on restoration in the area creeks and on watersheds that are clearly impacted with roads and clear-cuts.

On the field trip was Janice Reid, a retired Wildlife Biologist and UW board member. She has studied the NSO in this area for over 30 years. The project area has known NSO nest sites and Janice sent detailed information and comments about this sale to the BLM. The checkerboard ownership pattern has in the past, and continues to this day, resulted in the removal of available high quality NSO habitat on private land. A NSO State designated core area is now located on the list of units in the sale. Janice reports that the USFWS was not consulted by the private company when the core area for the owl site was designated and the private land immediately surrounding the BLM owl site was harvested. Consultation with the USFWS is required under the ESA and does not occur very often. Janice also points out that the lack of communication among agencies is detrimental to management of natural resources in the checkerboard ownership lands. Janice further pointed out that removal of known NSO nesting sites is “take” and is in violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. In 1991, just after the NSO population was listed under the Endangered Species Act as Threatened, Judge William Dwyer described forest management activities as “A deliberate and systematic failure of administration officials and federal agencies to maintain a viable population.” Thirty years later, we are seeing the same thing.

According to Francis Eatherington, former UW Conservation Chair, this area adjoins the 1997 “Diamond Back” Sale that UW appealed, won and blocked. Yellow Creek Ridge has huge trees that could be over 400 years old. I put in a call to Roseburg BLM for an update and am waiting to hear back. I will keep you posted.



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