Southern Oregon Old Growth Forest Road Plans Canceled: Tree Sitters Claim Victory

JOSEPHINE COUNTY, Ore. — On Monday the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced that plans to build a road by logging company, Boise Cascade Wood Products that would have seen old-growth trees felled in Josephine County to make way for the road have been changed.

For the last three weeks, tree activists have been staying at the location of a road proposed within the BLM’s Salmon Run timber sale, including camping on a platform in a Ponderosa pine 100 feet above the forest floor, literally sitting in the tree to protect it. The protesters said the plan threatened old-growth trees.

See also: Tree Sitters Protect Southern Oregon’s Old Growth Forests From The Treetops


Tree Activists Claim Victory In Southern Oregon Old Growth Forest

Sam Shields, one of the protest organizers, confirmed that police issued 4 misdemeanor citations to activists for violating the camping limit of 14 days on BLM land. He acknowledged the updated plan issued by BLM and said the plan shows how effective their direct action is in halting old-growth logging.

The group sees the changed plans as a fantastic precedent for further action to be taken against the BLM’s ongoing practice of targeting old and mature forests on public lands. Shields said, “In three weeks we were able to do what nonprofits and formal commenting has been unable to do in years of advocacy on the sale.”

Another project, the Baker’s Dozen Forest Management project in Coos County, was also canceled by BLM earlier this month after it was opposed by conservationist groups. The Baker’s Dozen plan sought to set aside 1,695 acres for commercial and regeneration timber harvest but would have affected old-growth trees.


BLM Plan For Old Growth Forests In Southern Oregon

Part of the BLM’s Poor Windy Forest Management Project, the timber sales area includes about 11,000 acres slated for commercial timber harvest, while thinning forests to prevent big wildfires.  BLM spokesperson Kyle Sullivan confirmed that the Salmon Run project did not include timber sales of old trees.

The plans did provide for the removal of old-growth trees to make way for a road and were changed by the BLM and Boise Cascade Wood Products, removing the proposed 440-foot access road at the center of activists’ concerns. The revised plan now specifies the construction of another road that won’t disturb large-diameter trees.

See also: Federal Protection of Old Growth Forests in Oregon Extended

Sullivan said that the new contract was signed by the BLM and Boise Cascade on Monday, but the decision to remove the proposed road from the plan was made in early April following regular coordination between the parties. They confirmed that their Poor Windy project adheres to the law and sound forestry practices.

The tree-sitters claimed the road cancellation came about because of their actions. Shields said that it’s likely the tactic will be used more often in Southern Oregon.

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