Our comprehensive public lands oversight campaign monitors old-growth timber sales, road construction projects, cattle grazing and other proposed activities on nearly 8 million acres of public land in the Klamath Siskiyou region.
We use the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Water Act, the Northwest Forest Plan and other laws and regulations to hold government agencies accountable in the management of our public resources.
old-growth logging projects are still commonplace in the
Klamath-Siskiyou. While KS Wild has a successful track record of
stopping old-growth logging in the courts, we continue to face many
timber sales that would level our ancient forests and degrade salmon-bearing streams. We encourage the public to join us in holding government agencies accountable for the management of our public resources.
By engaging with federal agencies such as the Forest Service, KS Wild is often able to steer public lands management toward restoration activities. We encourage a shift away from old-growth logging toward small diameter timber sales that carefully thin tree plantations and brush to reduce fuels in fire prone forests. In contrast, the Bureau of Land Management continues to target native forests and convert them to biologically deficient tree farms.
Ancient Forest Legacy
In the Pacific Northwest, nearly 90% of the old-growth forests over 150 years of age have been logged, paved over or converted to other uses. Thousands of miles of logging roads traverse federal lands, often bleeding sediment into salmon bearing streams. The remaining intact public lands are a natural legacy critical for wildlife, clean water and recreation. The Klamath-Siskiyou Ecoregion is recognized as one of the most diverse temperate forests in the world. With nearly one-quarter of its forests in mature and old growth condition, it contains much of the remaining ancient forests in the Pacific Northwest.
Protecting the Best
When managers propose to cut down ancient forests, KS Wild is often forced to appeal and litigate projects that would further degrade public lands. We have a successful track record of stopping old growth timber sales, road construction, mining and other destructive proposals through public pressure and the courts.
In 1971, Oregon became the first state in the nation to attempt state regulation of private timber harvest. While well intentioned, the Oregon Forest Practice Act has an Achilles’ heel: only the state board of forestry has the power to enforce its provisions. Unfortunately, when the citizenry is not permitted to enforce environmental standards, the law is quickly rendered ineffective by special interest lobbying. As a result, many parcels of state-regulated timberland resemble moonscapes more than healthy forests.
In 1973, California passed its own Forest Practice Act. Perhaps learning from Oregon’s experience, California permits citizen review of timber harvest. California also has state endangered species and environmental quality acts, all of which broadly apply to timber harvest on private lands. The Forest Practice Act requires nearly all industrial timber harvest projects to prepare a “timber harvest plan,” a document that is the rough equivalent of an Environmental Impact Report under the California Environmental Quality Act. It must analyze direct and cumulative impacts, consider alternatives, ensure compliance with applicable state and federal law, give notice to the public and allow for informed comment. And, of course, when it fails to meet these standards, the public may sue.
Despite these relatively strong legal tools, there’s a lot of slack in the system. In the absence of sustained and dedicated oversight by public watchdogs, the timber companies have enjoyed free reign when they cut on private land. There are many reasons for this: the Timber Harvest Act is not well known or understood; the parts of Northern California where it is at most issue are sparsely populated and heavily invested in extractive industry; these projects take place on private land to which the public frequently has no legal access; federal projects tend to overshadow private projects in the eyes of most environmental advocacy groups.
KS Wild monitors and comments on Timber Harvest Plans in Northern California. For example, we have submitted comments on a plan that proposed to harvest in winter using ground based yarding on slopes up to 65%, and we commented on a plan that proposed to land timber within feet of a steelhead bearing waterway.