NEPA, ground truthing, and litigation: Tools in the toolbox that forest advocates use to fight timber sales on federal public land in Oregon. This week's WildChat webcast, a regular event put on by our friends at Cascadia Wildlands, featured a panel of experts who talked about using these tools.
I have to admit, as one of the panelists it was hard to squeeze even an introduction to NEPA (the National Environmental Policy Act) into 15 minutes, but hopefully the point came across: This is an extremely important tool groups like Oregon Wild use to hold federal agencies accountable and to protect our wildlife, waters, and forests.
Other panelists from Bark and KS Wild talked about using on-the-ground volunteer efforts to gather essential information for fighting timber sales that target our last native forests, how our groups use litigation, and some of the issues around logging in the name of wildfire prevention.
Watch the webcast (it's an hour long) here for a great overview of how this all works and how you can plug in.
In a strangely timely turn of events, one of the timber sales Cascadia Wildlands and Oregon Wild have been fighting - in the Thurston Hills on the edge of Springfield - was re-released the day before this webcast. From Cascadia's press release:
The project is moving forward despite Cascadia Wildlands and Oregon Wild’s successful legal challenge of the sale in Court last year. BLM now admits that logging will increase fire risks and hazards to the adjoining Springfield residences, but the BLM dismisses these risks as insignificant. Not only is this project a threat to community safety, but would also have dramatic impacts on recreation. The BLM has designated areas for trails, but plans to log directly through the newly designated trail buffers, likely preventing the area from becoming the regional running and mountain biking destination that was envisioned and planned for by the cities of Springfield and Eugene.
The approval of this sale in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic is part of a broader pattern of Federal agencies taking advantage of a global crisis to remove regulations and green-light extractive projects... . Instead of halting the proposal and permitting of these projects as our nation reels from the impacts of the Corona Virus, the Trump Administration is using it as an opportunity to advance its industry-friendly agenda.
As Thurston Hills, and many other public land timber sales, move forward, Oregon Wild will continue to utilize the tools at our disposal to bring science-based arguments against environmentally-damaging projects to the table, and to represent the values of Oregonians who appreciate our public forests for more than just timber.
Want to speak out against the Thurston Hills project? Consider a letter to the editor! Check out our tips here.