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US Supreme Court rules on Trump's tax returns; Houston mayor cancels Texas GOP's in-person convention; Louisiana has elections; and DC council gives people incarcerated for felonies the right to vote.

OR Forests: Cut or Conserve?

October 10, 2008

Eugene, OR - The "Western Oregon Plan Revision" (WOPR) is just that - a "whopper" of a plan. It's hundreds of pages long and contains details about how the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) intends to manage the almost 2.6 million acres it controls in Western Oregon.

The final plan was released on Thursday, and conservation groups are already calling it a step backward, because it more than doubles the allowable timber harvest on the land and reduces buffer zones that prevent logging damage around streams. It also defers logging of some old-growth areas for 15 years, rather than making them strictly off-limits.

Doug Heiken, conservation and restoration coordinator for the group Oregon Wild, says there are ways to yield a decent timber harvest without compromising the environment - but they're not included in the plan.

"That's the win-win solution that the Bush Aministration is ignoring. They want to go back, reignite the 'timber wars' and fight over old-growth forests, when everyone else wants to work on commonsense solutions."

The next step in the process, Heiken explains, is an examination of the WOPR by the governor's staff to see if it complies with Oregon law. He predicts it will be in violation of the air quality targets to fight climate change, which were set last year by the legislature.

"If we adopt the WOPR, it's going to make it more difficult to meet those targets. However, if we adopted a more commonsense approach, we would be much more successful in reaching air quality goals, because we would be storing more carbon in growing trees."

The plan has 500 million board feet of timber per year being harvested off BLM land in 18 Oregon counties. The BLM says some rural Oregon communities, long dependent on the timber industry, need the revenue.

The draft version of the WOPR received about 30,000 comments this summer. While there's no public comment period for this report, Governor Kulongoski has 60 days to respond to it. The entire plan can be viewed online, at Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR