For Immediate Release
Groups Call on Oregon Senators to Oppose Anti-Public Lands Bills
Today, twenty-six conservation groups from around the state called on Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley to oppose any legislation that seeks to exploit legitimate public concerns over wildfire to undermine protections for America’s public lands.
These organizations signed onto the letter to voice their opposition to the “Resilient Federal Forests Act” (HR 2936), which passed the House of Representatives earlier this month. Congressmen Greg Walden and Kurt Schrader voted for the bill, while the rest of the delegation opposed it. Now the legislation heads to the Senate where Senator Ron Wyden will be a central figure in reconciling the various policy proposals addressing wildlife policy and forest management.
The letter highlights the threats this bill poses to America’s bedrock environmental laws, Oregon’s cherished national public lands, and the health and resilience of our public forests:
1. The Threat to Bedrock Environmental Laws
“(HR 2936) seeks to radically expand Categorical Exclusions (CE’s), which would allow the Forest Service to bypass the public involvement and environmental analysis required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)… These new CE’s would be over 400 times larger than the 70-acre exemptions currently allowed, effectively eliminating any meaningful scientific analysis or environmental review on logging projects up to 30,000 acres… The intent behind these CE expansions is simple: to systematically reduce the role that science and citizen oversight play in the decision-making on public lands.”
2. The Threat to Oregon’s Cherished Public Lands
“HR 2936 is the latest in a long series of attacks on America’s public lands. The legislation would shrink the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument by rescinding protections for Oregon and California (O&C) Railroad Lands within the Monument and requiring that these lands be managed for the primary purpose of logging…”
“The bill also mandates that Oregon’s public forests on O&C land produce half a billion board feet per year. This new minimum requirement would be roughly triple the current logging levels on these public lands, which is a goal that can only be met by aggressively clear-cutting old-growth forests, polluting streams and rivers, and emitting large amounts of greenhouse gases…”
3. The Threat to Forest Health and Resilience
“Despite their cynical attempt to co-opt the term “forest health,” bills like HR 2936 would actually degrade the health of our forests and make them more prone to extreme fire by targeting Oregon’s fire-resistant old-growth forests… In some instances, responsible management, such as carefully thinning small trees, can help restore forests degraded by decades of destructive logging and fire suppression; however, simply citing the threat of wildfire as an excuse to dramatically increase the scope and scale of logging in Oregon’s remote, backcountry forests is another matter entirely.”
The following organizations signed onto the letter:
Oregon Wild, Audubon Society of Portland, Crag Law Center, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Geos Institute, the Sierra Club, Cascadia Wildlands, KS Wild, Friends of the Columbia Gorge, WildEarth Guardians, Bark, the Cascade Forest Conservancy, Umpqua Watersheds, the Environmental Protection Information Center, the Klamath Forest Alliance, the Benton Forest Coalition, Central Oregon Landwatch, Audubon Society of Corvallis, Audubon Society of Lincoln City, Salem Audubon Society, Rogue Valley Audubon Society, Umpqua Valley Audubon Society, Lane County Audubon Society, Kalmiopsis Audubon Society, and the Cascade Volcanoes and Willamette Valley Broadbands of the Great Old Broads for Wilderness.