Oregon’s Ancient Forests Win! Logging plans withdrawn at last

As I sat down at my computer yesterday morning and looked at my overflowing email inbox, a new unread email subject line caught my eye: “Secretary Salazar to Announce Decision on Pacific Northwest Forest Management.”

The day had come! The Obama Administration would finally decide the fate of Oregon’s ancient forests, which have been under serious threat from a Bush-era plan that proposed to more than double the amount of logging on some 2.6 million acres of Bureau of Land Management forests.

A few hours later we learned that the Obama Administration would formally withdraw the Western Oregon Plan Revisions, or WOPR.

The Obama Administration had reviewed the six plans that the Bush Administration had put in place and determined that they did not adequately comply with the Endangered Species Act. The administration also asked that a Bush-era plan that would have jeopardized habitat for the imperiled northern spotted owl be vacated.

All in all, a very good day’s work!

But in fact, The Wilderness Society, in collaboration with other conservation groups, has worked for years to limit logging trucks of in these western Oregon forests, with their towering trees, rushing rivers and awesome array of wildlife. TWS, along with other conservation organizations, brought forth a major legal challenge that demonstrated the lack of science involved in the Bush decision. We also wrote numerous official comment letters addressed to the government and organized a public education campaign to bring attention to the plight of these forests.

Yesterday, our work to keep sound science, the law and good public policy at the forefront of forest management decision-making processes for American’s beloved national lands was realized.

I am joined by the entire staff here at The Wilderness Society in saying that we are pleased that the Obama administration held to its commitment of making science the foundation of its decision-making processes.

What happens next to these forests? With the withdrawal of WOPR, western Oregon forests will once again be managed under the Northwest Forest Plan, conserving them for all of us to enjoy now and in the future.

This is a huge win for the coastal forests of western Oregon. Many, many people helped make this happen, including The Wilderness Society’s WildAlert community, who helped to tip the balance by generating more than 130,000 letters in support of preserving these treasured forests.

Stay tuned as we learn about the next steps the Obama Administration will take regarding western Oregon forests and as we continue to protect American’s special public lands.

If you'd like to see more of the Oregon forests that have been affected, visit us on Flickr.

photo: Oregon old growth forest. Courtesy Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, www.kswild.org.