More than 120,000 people and more than 170 organizations called on the U.S. Forest Service to strengthen its proposal to conserve old growth trees and forests on federal land. During a public comment period that closed on Friday, people asked for stronger provisions that eliminate commercial logging of old-growth trees and tighten other exceptions to ensure these trees stay in the forest.
When you’re out enjoying the spectacular national forests in Oregon, you’re probably not thinking about laws passed decades ago to require forest plans for these areas. But these plans, and the subsequent standards, guidelines, designations, and policies they create, make a huge difference in what you’ll experience at your favorite trail, river, or picnic spot. They certainly affect the lives of the wildlife that call these places home, the fish that swim in the streams, and the plants that thrive in the forest soil.
Waldo Lake and the forests and trails all around it is one of my “happy places.” Every summer, I love to paddle and swim in the clear, deep blue water and pick huckleberries for camp breakfast. I’ve hiked through the young forest on the north side of the lake, recovering slowly from the Charlton Fire that severely burned the high-elevation area. And I included the Black Creek trail, leading from the west side of the Waldo Lake Wilderness through diverse forests to the edge of the lake, in my ancient forest hiking guide.
A new report published in Nature underscores the need to preserve existing forests rather than just planting new trees to fight climate change. The report, from 200 scientists worldwide, stated that allowing forests to reach maturity and become old-growth has tremendous carbon storage and biodiversity conservation potential — a win-win natural climate solution.
Rain fell steadily on our drive into the mix of public and private lands southwest of Roseburg last month, the clouds and mist casting an eerie feel over the stark clearcuts we drove through on the way to a proposed logging unit in the 42 Divide Project area. In November 2021, the Roseburg District of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) sent an initial proposal for the 42 Divide Project out to the public for comments, calling for logging over 5,000 acres of forests up to 200 years old.
A year ago, Oregon Wild advocates joined activists from across the country and urged the Forest Service to restore protections and end old-growth logging on forests across the Tongass National Forest in Alaska.
This week, those efforts finally paid off! From the New York Times: