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Proposed OR BLM Plan Could Affect Forest Protections in Northwest

The proposed management changes to BLM land would affect western Oregon, including parts of the Rogue River, above. (Emily Berlant)
The proposed management changes to BLM land would affect western Oregon, including parts of the Rogue River, above. (Emily Berlant)
April 14, 2016

PORTLAND, Ore. - A new proposal from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) could replace the Northwest Forest Plan for forest lands in western Oregon, and set precedent for other parts of the Pacific Northwest to move away from the plan as well.

The Northwest Forest Plan guides land use in the Pacific Northwest, and is in its 22nd year of a 100-year plan. The BLM has worked with the U.S. Forest Service on federal lands in California, Oregon and Washington for nearly a quarter-century to protect water quality in forest waterways and shield endangered species' habitats.

Megan Birzell, Northwest forest campaign manager for The Wilderness Society, said the BLM proposal in Oregon could throw coordination in the region out the window.

"While it only affects the 2.6 million acres of BLM lands, it starts to unravel the entire Northwest Forest Plan that covers a 24.6 million-acre region from the Canadian border down through Northern California," she said.

Birzell said the BLM's proposal to replace some parts of the plan could influence the Forest Service to adopt independent plans in the coming years. She said the many years of the Northwest Forest Plan have yielded improvements for the forests and there is no reason to abandon it now.

"We've actually seen water quality improve over two-thirds of the region," she added. "We've seen water temperatures decrease, which is very significant in a time of climate change, and so we're really looking to build on these successes as we move forward."

Starting Friday, there will be a 30-day protest period in which people can submit their objections to the proposal.

The full BLM proposal can be read online here.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR