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Planning for Changes, Challenges in Western OR Forests

May 14, 2012

MEDFORD, Ore. - A series of eight public meetings begins this week in Medford and Grants Pass to round up comments about how to revise the Resource Management Plans for public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). These plans guide all kinds of decisions, from protecting wildlife and water quality to the types of timber harvest and recreation that can take place in each of six regions.

BLM project manager Kim Titus oversees the Resource Management Plans (RMP) revision for western Oregon. She says people do not have to be experts in order to show up and share their opinions.

"What kinds of things concern them that they would like us to address as we move forward in this planning effort? We're really wanting to hear from folks who live in the area, folks who recreate in the area. If you enjoy BLM lands in western Oregon, we're hoping you'll attend these meetings."

Since the first plans were made, Titus says, there is new information to consider about forest health and habitat for endangered species. She says the BLM also wants to do more to contribute to local economies, and she wants suggestions for what the agency calls "new and innovative approaches" to managing western Oregon forests.

These 2.6 million acres of public land already are part of the Northwest Forest Plan, which has been in place since the mid-1990s. It isn't going away, but the new plans allow for more specific priorities by region.

Chandra LaGue, Old-Growth Campaign coordinator with Oregon Wild, sees the comment period as an opportunity to build on the larger original plan, as well.

"If the BLM wanted to improve upon the Northwest Forest Plan by, once and for all, taking old-growth forest logging off the table and focusing on areas where there is broad public and scientific support for restoring forests, that would be a direction they could go."

This week's meetings will be held at BLM offices in Medford on Wednesday and Grants Pass on Thursday. Both begin at 5:30 p.m. Other meetings are scheduled in Klamath Falls, Salem, Springfield, Coos Bay, Roseburg and Portland. Public comments can be submitted in writing through July 5.

The meeting schedule and information about the RMPs are available at www.blm.gov.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR