BLM Should Manage Forests for the Benefit of Everyone
Medford, OR – As Secretary Salazar visits southern Oregon public forests, local conservation group KS Wild urges the Bureau of Land Management to balance the needs of the land and the surrounding communities.
“We can use a restoration thinning approach to our public lands and still get out a decent amount of timber to feed local mills,” said Joseph Vaile, Campaign Director of KS Wild, which worked with local stakeholders on the Pilot Joe and other forest management projects in southern Oregon. “Our public forests are not an appropriate place for a private industrial model of forestry that places maximum timber production above all other values.”
Many public lands managers have begun to approach public lands management from a perspective of where the work is needed and provide a commercial byproduct rather than maximizing timber harvest. The Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest has nearly met or exceeded their timber targets for six years in a row by thinning dense fire suppressed forests and the tree plantations that were created by widespread clearcut logging in the 1970s and 1980s.
“We hope the BLM considers all the incredible social and ecological values of these public forests in future management. These public lands are important for recreation, clean water production and wildlife habitat. As a society we can manage BLM forests under a restoration framework that can also provide timber to mills, instead of applying a model that maximizes timber production at the expense of other values to our public forests,” said Vaile.
For people that are skeptical that such an approach can work, the proof is in the pudding: Boise bought the Medford Pilot for three times the assessed value. Pilot Joe is a promising start in developing community driven timber sales that produce volume and have a foundation in forest ecology. “We are hoping that we can monitor this pilot, learn what we did right and what went wrong and apply the lessons to future management,” said Vaile.
Pilot Joe is part of the Middle Applegate Pilot, a collaboratively developed project based on the principals of Drs. Johnson and Franklin. “All diverse stakeholders are at the table in this project. While many interested parties aren’t happy with all the outcomes, this is an on-going process that is working to build compromise and balance all of the public’s values,” said Vaile. For example, KS Wild is concerned with larger trees that were logged but not marked for cutting and the selection of older forest stands for logging in the project area.
Conservationists pointed out that nearly all private forests and county forests, most state forests and over half of federal forests have already been managed for maximum timber yield. We are just now beginning to implement timber sales on the unlogged portions of the federal land base with a collaborative, restoration approach.
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