Today, Cascadia Wildlands, Oregon Wild, and the Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center (KS Wild) filed suit challenging the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Archie Creek post-fire logging plans. The agency plans to log mature and old-growth stands on public land along the North Umpqua River, including northern spotted owl habitat, protected streamside forests, and within old-growth reserves and Wild & Scenic River corridors in violation of environmental rules and the agency’s own management plans.
“The Bureau of Land Management rushed meaningful analysis of the impacts of this project in order to get out the cut,” said Susan Jane Brown, senior attorney and Wildlands & Wildlife Program director at the Western Environmental Law Center, who represents the groups. “When the agency blindly pursues logging at the expense of wildlife, clean water, old-growth forests, and carbon storage, it betrays their role as a steward of public lands.”
Despite the agency’s acknowledgement of the widespread negative impacts of post-fire logging, BLM refused to consider and analyze numerous public values that will be adversely affected by the Archie Creek project including landslide risk, the North Umpqua River, future increased fire risk and severity, recreation, and imperiled fish species. The agency’s decision only analyzed two issues, one of which was the amount of timber volume it would generate.
“This overzealous timber sale will involve logging and road construction that will impact key tributaries of the North Umpqua that provide salmon, clean drinking water, and year-round recreation,” said Doug Heiken, conservation and restoration coordinator for Oregon Wild. “Claims that there will be no impact effects from clearcutting recently burned forests are simply untrue and unjustifiable.”
The agency’s resource management plan is premised on logging approximately 2,000 acres of recently burned forest throughout the entire western Oregon region over a 50-year period. The BLM is now proposing over five times that level of post-fire logging along the North Umpqua River alone. This scale of logging, especially in fragile post-fire forests, will result in adverse environmental consequences for decades to come. BLM’s proposed logging would occur in conjunction with logging on adjacent private lands and lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service, underscoring the need for environmental analysis that addresses the cumulative impacts of all logging in the area regardless of land ownership.
“BLM is using the fire as an excuse to throw out the rulebook and harm wildlife, recreation, and water quality,” said George Sexton, conservation director for KS Wild. “Logging to meet arbitrary timber targets is not an appropriate reason to destroy public lands that belong to everyone.”
The organizations are represented by attorneys at Western Environmental Law Center, the Law Offices of Charlie Tebbutt, and Cascadia Wildlands.