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Groups File Protest against BLM Plan for Western Ore. Forests

The Bureau of Land Management has proposed changes to its forest management plan that would increase logging in western Oregon. (Bureau of Land Management)
The Bureau of Land Management has proposed changes to its forest management plan that would increase logging in western Oregon. (Bureau of Land Management)
May 17, 2016

PORTLAND, Ore. - Conservation groups filed a protest yesterday against the Bureau of Land Management's latest proposal to change forest management in western Oregon.

The BLM's revision eliminates some protections against logging near streams, and could put the state out of step with the Northwest Forest Plan, the 100-year plan coordinated with Washington state and California.

Susan Brown is an attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center, which filed the protest on behalf of 22 conservation groups.

"Our concern there is that by essentially pulling out of a range-wide, regional plan, the BLM is leaving a huge hole in conservation and protection on those federal lands, and that may have all kinds of repercussions," says Brown.

The Northwest Forest Plan was adopted in 1994. If the BLM moves ahead with its revision, 2.6 million acres of land would be removed from the regional plan.

Brown says the Northwest Forest Plan faced a similar challenge in 2008, when the BLM proposed the Western Oregon Plan Revision, which would have increased logging on BLM-managed land.

However, a federal judge declared that revised plan illegal in 2012. Brown says the newest proposal feels like a rehash of the last, unsuccessful revision.

"We seem to be having these conversations over and over again, and I wish that there was a more proactive attempt to really try to manage these lands in a way that would work for more of the public than what the BLM is attempting to do now," she says.

The conservation groups' protest says the BLM's newest plan reduces the buffer zones between logging activities and streams in certain areas, which could threaten water quality and wildlife.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR