The Applegate Siskiyou Alliance (ASA) is proud to support and work as active members of the Climate Forest Coalition. The Climate Forest Coalition is a network of conservation organizations from across the country promoting the protection of mature, late successional and old-growth forests on federal lands as a natural and effective climate solution. The group is currently coordinating a national campaign to highlight the immediate threat old forest logging poses to our federal lands and our climate. We are also working to ensure that President Biden’s Earth Day Executive Order on forests is utilized to protect forests and store carbon on the landscape, as both a climate mitigation and adaptation strategy.
To that end, the coalition has recently published a report, Worth More Standing: 10 Climate Saving Forests Threatened by Federal Logging. In this report, activists and conservation organizations reviewed timber sales from across the country and unsurprising to us, they found some of the worst timber sales right here on the Medford District BLM. In fact, the Medford District BLM is the only land management agency in the country with two timber sales on this unfortunate list, including the IVM Project and the Poor Windy Timber Sale north of Grants Pass, Oregon.
ASA has worked extensively to oppose the IVM Project due to its impact on mature, late successional and old-growth forests, as well as its impact on northern spotted owl habitats, Late Successional Reserve (LSR) forests, Riparian Reserves, and carbon rich, climate mitigating forests, here in the Applegate Valley and throughout southwestern Oregon.
The IVM Project is a landscape scale logging proposal, focused on logging LSR forest, previously set aside to help recover populations of the threatened northern spotted owl and preserve its old forest habitat. It also eliminates numerous public involvement opportunities, public comment periods and current requirements for site specific environmental analysis and review. Simply put, the IVM Project is intended to authorize timber sales specifically in old forest habitats, without openly considering the potential impacts or the input of local communities.
The first timber sales proposed for implementation under the IVM Project are the Late Mungers and Penn Butte Timber Sale above Williams and Murphy, Oregon in the Applegate Valley. Reportedly, the BLM also intends to begin planning large timber sales in the Middle Applegate LSR, under the IVM’s administrative framework. The Middle Applegate LSR extends all the way from Williams to Ruch, on the forested slopes south of the Applegate River. Where exactly within this vast landscape the Middle Applegate LSR Timber Sale will be proposed is unclear, and just like the Late Mungers Project above Williams, the BLM is not required to engage or inform local communities of their plans until after they have been fully designed, marked on the ground and tentatively approved with an internal document called a “Determination of NEPA Adequacy.”
What is clear, is that forests in the Applegate, like forests across the country, provide important habitat values, watershed values, scenic values, and recreational opportunities. Forests also provide one of the most effective, natural climate solutions available to combat climate change and store carbon on federal lands. Research has demonstrated that old forests can act as climate and fire refugia, buffering ecosystems from the most damaging effects of climate change.
Permanently protecting and preserving these mature and old forests on federal lands is an important first step towards climate resilience and must be a significant priority if the Biden Administration is serious about its efforts to address climate change. Immediate action must also be taken by high level officials in the Biden Administration, the Department of Interior and the Department of Agriculture to cancel damaging old forest timber sales and logging projects like the IVM. The Medford District BLM will not stop logging old forests or work to ensure their timber sales are consistent with President Biden’s Executive Order unless they are forced to do so.
We are asking President Biden and his cabinet level officials to carry out his campaign promises and meaningfully address the climate crisis by enacting permanent, enforceable administrative rules protecting all mature and old forests on federal lands. Please sign our petition to protect the forests of southwestern Oregon from the IVM timber grab. Speak for the trees and protect our climate! STOP THE IVM!