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BLM’s Controversial “WOPR” – What Happens Next?

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 By Chris ThomasContact
January 14, 2008

Salem, OR – The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has been swamped with more than 20,000 public comments about its Western Oregon Plan Revision (WOPR) that would increase logging and remove some stream and wildlife habitat protections in Western Oregon forests. Although the public comment period has ended for now, the plan is far from being finalized.

After the BLM updates the controversial plan, the public will have one more chance to comment, in September. Before that, however, the governor's staff will review it to make sure the plan meshes with current state policies and laws.
Joe Kirkvliet, resource economist for The Wilderness Society, sees at least one potential problem area: Increased logging doesn't fit the state's greenhouse gas reduction mandate.

"This plan will actually put carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, to the tune of over 8 million tons of carbon. At today's prices, this is over $80 million worth of carbon that would be removed from Oregon's forests and put into the atmosphere."

In the meantime, Kirkvliet notes, with every step in the WOPR approval process, more time passes. He says the homebuilding slump already has changed the economics upon which the plan was based.

"They took as the price of stumpage (the price they're going to receive for the timber they sell) the 2005 levels. That means their projections of the revenue counties will get are extremely optimistic, and highly unrealistic."

Kirkvliet believes Oregon's rural areas would do better to keep their forests intact and focus on diversifying their economies, attracting retirees and business owners who appreciate the great outdoors. The WOPR timeline can be viewed online, at www.blm.gov.

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