Conservation Column Jul-Aug 2015: BLM Needs Your Comments on Resource Management Plan

Debbie Schlenoff                                541.685.0610                             dschlenoff (at) msn.com


UPDATE: The BLM has extended the comment period for the Draft Resource Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement until August 21, 2015.

While hiking on a shaded trail next to a burbling creek, you reach for your guidebook to identify a striking wildflower.... To find the diameter of an immense old-growth tree, you and your companions encircle it, stretch your arms wide, and reach for one another’s hands.... When a flash of color catches your eye or a warbling note touches your ear, you reach for your binoculars, asking, “What kind of bird was that?” Have you ever done these things? Do you want people to be able to have these kinds of experiences in the future? If so, then reach for your keyboard, write your comments on the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) draft resource management plan, and email them to the BLM.

In April, the BLM released its draft plan for 2.6 million acres of land in western Oregon. Several alternative proposals are suggested in the plan. They all increase logging on our public lands. Rather than emphasize science-based projects (such as thinning in dense, young stands) or acknowledge that timber operations continue to deliver logs to mills, the BLM emphasizes ramping up timber extraction from the few remaining mature forests. Some of the alternatives will allow thousands of acres of clear-cuts, a particularly destructive practice that knowledgeable people tried to leave behind decades ago. The proposals will also reduce streamside buffers. These riparian reserves are necessary to provide drinking water and the shade and cool water essential to salmon. Rather than emphasize the maintenance of existing roads, the alternatives increase road construction, which would further degrade and fragment habitat, dump sediment into streams, and allow quicker access for invasive plants.

The economic analysis focuses myopically on timber production without adequately taking into account the value of the ecosystem services of intact forests—clean water, habitat, carbon sequestration, and erosion prevention, for example. Furthermore, outdoor recreation is a growing multibillion dollar industry with significant job creation potential.

There are many opportunities in the proposals to provide conservation for fish and wildlife. Unfortunately, they are scattered among the different alternatives. For example, the alternative that includes a relatively large streamside buffer allows significantly more forest to be logged. The BLM can do better. We hope for an alternative that synthesizes the many conservation values that will support this important ecosystem over the long term.

BLM is seeking to engage the public in its decision. Encourage officials to protect our public lands and to manage them for the ecosystem services they provide, for fish and wildlife habitat, and for recreation. Please consider submitting your comments. The deadline is July 23 August 21.

See http://www.blm.gov/or/plans/rmpswesternoregon/ for more information. Send your comments via email to blm_or_rmpwo_comments (at) blm.gov

Look for updates on our website and Facebook page. Or contact me for details at dschenoff (at) msn.com