The Coast Range Association with eight other plaintiffs appeal in federal court BLM’s 2016 Forest Plan
The Coast Range Association and eight other plaintiffs (Pacific Rivers lead plaintiff) filed an appeal in our lawsuit against the BLM’s Western Oregon Management Plans. Kristen L. Boyles and Jaimini Parekh of Earthjustice and Susan Jane M. Brown of Western Environmental Law Center are the attorneys for the Plaintiff-Appellants.
The appeal is focused on the Aquatic Conservation Strategy. Specifically, why a Biological Opinion by the National Marine Fisheries Service approved the new Plan without proper scientific explanation.
Here is a quick summary of the Appeal:
The BLM’s Western Oregon Resource Management Plan (RMPs) weakens aquatic protections for threatened and endangered salmonid species. In other words, the case is directly about everything the Coast Range Association said the BLM would do to increase timber cutting when they began their new planning process. Specifically, the RMPs eliminated nine key objectives of the Aquatic Conservation Strategy of the Northwest Forest Plan. The RMPs eliminate previous restriction on new road construction in Key Watersheds. The RMPs halved the prior Riparian Reserve widths.
All of the above is allowed if the science warrants such changes. But that’s not what occurred. In fact, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) assessment of the new plan objected to weakened aquatic protections arguing the lower protections were contrary to the Best Available Science. But then NMFS gave the go ahead for the new plan.
As such, NMFS violated the Endangered Species Act by failing to explain why it green lighted the new BLM plan with a favorable Biological Opinion contrary to its own science assessment.
Also, the BLM’s Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the new plan failed to analyze the direct, indirect and cumulative effects of succeeding from the prior Northwest Forest Plan in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
The above failures, and more, by NMFS and the BLM were extensively documented in written comments provided by the Coast Range Association at every stage of the BLM’s planning process.
We will continue to provide updates on the appeal process as we learn more. To learn about CRA’s past work on BLM’s Resource Management Planning visit our BLM webpage.
Oceans and Forests are Connected
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Oregon’s current forestry regulations are inadequate. We all know that. Common practices such as clearcutting, steep land logging, aerial herbicide spraying, and logging near streams have little regulation under Oregon law and rules. Under-regulation sacrifices public health and forest productivity for the profit of Wall Street forest owners. Forestry laws on private land in Oregon are the weakest of the three west coast states.
In Salem, lawmakers are under the power and influence of big timber corporations. The timber industry in Oregon gives more money to state lawmakers than in any other state. Time and again Oregon’s lawmakers in Salem have shown they are unwilling to stand up for the public’s interests and against damaging forest practices.
Several conservation organizations across Oregon have decided to try a different forestry reform tactic – use the ballot measure process and go directly to the people. A ballot measure provides voters an opportunity to directly decide how Oregon forestry should be reformed. This past summer Initiative Petitions 35, 36 and 37 were proposed to give citizens that voice.
The proposed ballot measures address three basic issues:
1. Stream buffers
2. Chemical use – aerial spraying
3. Steep land clearcutting
Of course, all ballot measures must be assessed by the Secretary of State for conformance to Oregon’s constitutional provisions. In late September, Secretary of State Bev Clarno ruled the three forestry measures spoke to multiple issues contrary to Oregon’s Constitutional provisions. The measures were all rejected.
An October 4th Oregonian article by Rob Davis reported on the ballot measure rejections. Davis writes “The three ballot measures — Initiative Petitions 35, 36 and 37 — are substantially the same. They call for tightening the state’s aerial spraying laws, which today offer some of the West Coast’s weakest protections for people and fish. They call for more logging restrictions in steep, landslide-prone areas. They would prohibit conflicts of interest for state forestry board appointees, who today can set policies that benefit their own companies.”
The article continues: “But the Secretary of State’s elections division last week rejected the initiatives proposed by environmental advocates, including the group Oregon Wild, saying they related to more than one subject. The Oregon constitution says each ballot initiative can only address a single policy topic.”
Here at CRA we applaud work to address Oregon’s forestry issues through a ballot measure. All the issues the measures address are real and need fixing. However, the Coast Range Association’s strategy is to leapfrog the Salem political situation and go directly to the most pressing issue facing the planet – the Climate Emergency. Appropriate solutions to the climate crisis will have huge implications for Northwest forest management and ownership and will, we believe, make many issues facing us today moot. With limited resources, the CRA is working to describe a Green New Deal (GND) for Western Oregon. A GND for Western Oregon will not only solve today’s forestry issues but transform the purpose and management of current corporate forest lands.
Find out more about our Green New Deal work by visiting our website.
Update on CRA Oregon’s Forests and the Climate Crisis Talk
The Coast Range Association’s Chuck Willer gave an engaging and powerful talk on October 5th to the East Side Democratic Club. Around 25 interested and engaged folks attended the the talk. Connections with other organizations were made and the presentation was well received. Attendees were receptive to Chuck’s discussion of a Green New Deal for Oregon perspective.
Reach out to us to host this important talk through your organization or in your community. We are in a Climate Crisis and the Coast Range Association provides a unique and thoughtful perspective about the scale and urgency needed from Western Oregon to respond to the crisis.
Contact Andrew at email@example.com to schedule Chuck’s timely talk.
Economics in the Era of Climate Crisis
Coast Range Radio’s most recent episode (Economics in the Era of Climate Crisis – Episode 4) provides a detailed analysis of the differences between neoclassical economics and modern economic thought in relation to the implementation of a Green New Deal. This episode helps to remove the blinders imposed by neoclassical economics to allow us to begin imagining how we can address the Climate Crisis at the appropriate scale and make a better world possible.