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07/22/2009

Department of the Interior Withdraws Flawed Oregon Logging Plan

Sierra Club and others in the conservation community celebrated an Obama administration decision made last Wednesday to cancel a Bush-era plan that would have nearly quadrupled current logging on public lands in western Oregon.  The Western Oregon Plan Revisions (WOPR), as it was known, was withdrawn on the grounds that the previous administration had failed to follow procedure when drawing up the plans.  Specifically, the plan was developed without proper consultation of impacts on endangered species under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.

Western oregon

Courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service

The forests in western Oregon will now revert to being managed under the Northwest Forest Plan which governed timber sales from 1994-2008.  Additionally, the government will request that the District Court vacate a Fish and Wildlife 2008 revision of spotted owl critical habitat.  It was this faulty revision on which the WOPR was partly based.  If the court agrees, the designated critical habitat for the owl would again be the 6.9 million acres that were designated in 1992.

The Obama administration's move signals a return to scientific management of our public forests and marks an importatn step towards protecting Oregon's remaining mature and old growth forests from unsustainable logging and roadbuilding.  These last wild forests protect the climate, produce clean water, and sustain world class salmon runs and recreational opportunities that contribute to Oregon's diverse economy

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