“Words are the bricks of our world and they have the power to change it.”
—Enock Maregesi, “East Africa: Writing for Kiswahili Language Revolution,” The Citizen (2016)
So far it’s just words, but for those who favor more protective conservation measures, the new forest management plan looks like a giant step backwards. In August, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) approved a new Resource Management Plan (RMP) for Western Oregon. Unfortunately, the approved plan will replace the carefully considered, science-based 1994 Northwest Forest Plan on millions of acres. It reduces streamside protective buffers by half or more, a loss of 300,000 acres of streamside reserves and a threat to the clean, cool water needed by salmon and other fish and wildlife. An increase in road construction and off-road vehicle access will further fragment and degrade habitat. Logging levels will increase by 37 percent. In the nearly half a million acres managed for timber, logging will be of the more destructive clear-cut variety.
The proposed plan includes 2.6 million acres of federally managed public forests. The recreational opportunities of this public land; the essential habitat for fish, birds and other wildlife; and the many ecosystem services such as clean water, clean air, climate change mitigation, and landslide and erosion control, should not be traded away for short-term profit. Many people in federal agencies have worked for years to find programs that balance the demand for logging with environmental values. The direction of the new proposal puts that strategy and our forests at risk.