After an Oregon District Court ruled that the Bureau of Land Management’s basis for selling wood on roughly 18,000 acres, including old-growth forest, in violation of the Endangered Species Act, additional information has come to light.
The judge rejected the Service’s argument that the threatened northern spotted owl species wouldn’t be harmed by old-growth cutting on 15,848 acres of habitat in the Poor Windy and Evans Creek timber auctions. Although we are happy with the outcome, it illustrates how confident our public land managers have grown in their pursuit of the mighty board foot.
When they are prepared to claim to the American people and a federal judge that logging thousands of acres of habitat used by a threatened species like the northern spotted owl will result in no “harm,” according to Sangye Ince-Johannsen, an attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center.
Every Oregonian should be concerned about the agencies’ exclusive concentration on extraction over stewardship, but today I’m thankful that the law sometimes prohibits it. According to George Sexton, director of KS Wild Conservation, “This decision should serve as a wake-up call to the BLM.” “Instead of pursuing after contentious old-growth timber sales in the backcountry.
The BLM has to engage with stakeholders to thin second-growth wood plantations to lessen fire hazard.” Judge Aiken also determined that the Bureau and the Service had illegally neglected to consult regarding the effects of the East Evans Creek and Milepost 97 wildfires, which were still actively burning the timber sale area as the Service finished its evaluation, according to the Western Environmental Law Center.
In a small but crucial east-west habitat bridge, the Milepost 97 fire lowered canopy closure below 40% and destroyed 4,706 acres of northern spotted owl habitat. These are arid, fire-prone terrain, and Cascadia Wildlands representative Nick Cady said, “We opposed this big logging project because it would raise fire risks and hazards for the surrounding population.”
“The agencies keep pushing logging projects that are endangering our communities, and it is past time that fire impacts guide our land management choices, particularly on public lands,” a community member said. According to the Western Environmental Law Center, Judge Aiken criticised the agencies for failing to consider how these logging projects’ habitat loss may affect the competitive relationships between the barred and spotted owls.
The Service “was not faced with scientific uncertainty, but unanimity concerning the adverse impact of reduced [nesting, roosting, and foraging] habitat and the threat of the barred owl to the spotted owl based on the barred owl’s ability to out-compete for food and shelter,” Judge Aiken wrote in his order at page 23.
“[The Service] finally downplayed the effect of the action and its conclusions are not supported by the facts,” says the court in the order on page 22. “In presenting an explanation opposed to the evidence after evaluating major parts of the situation. “The authorities need to understand that any habitat loss from logging would raise the likelihood of extinction when two territorial species are contending for the same rare old-growth habitat,” said Doug Heiken, a spokesman of Oregon Wild.
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