BLM Forest Planning - Western Oregon Plans Revision WOPR 1 & 2

BLM Forest Planning - Western Oregon Plans Revision WOPR 1 & 2

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is the largest landowner in the Oregon Coast Range. The agency has major forest holdings in Tillamook, Benton, Lane, Douglas and Coos Counties. Important portions of large coastal watersheds are owned by the BLM. In total, the BLM owns 2.5 million acres of Western Oregon forest.

Starting in 2002, the BLM began a new set of forest plans for its forest ownership in Western Oregon. The goal of the planning process was to update the Northwest Forest Plan.

Here is a map of BLM & other significant public or tribal lands in Western Oregon:

Called the Western Oregon Plans Revisions (WOPR-1) by the BLM, the new WOPR-1 plans made major changes to the Northwest Forest Plan for five BLM Districts. The Coast Range Association was a leading organization commenting on WOPR-1. We severely criticized numerous bad provisions of the new plan. A key issue was that the new plans departed from the best available science.

When President Obama took office he set aside the illegal WOPR-1 plans. President Obama then set in motion a second planning effort we termed WOPR-2. That effort culminated in the new plan’s being adopted in August of 2016, these plans are called the ROD/RMP.

The 2nd planning effort came closer to the NWFP model except for the Aquatic Conservation Strategy (ACS). Two key problems existed. The BLM set aside mandatory ACS Standards and replaced them with discretionary Guidelines. Secondly, although extensive consultation occurred between the protective agencies (National Marine Fisheries Service and US Fish & Wildlife Service); the consultation’s Biological Opinion failed to explain how Best Available Science warranted changing Standards in the plan to guidelines.

During the almost sixteen years of BLM forest planning, our work was unrelenting to ensure the big trees were protected and the ACS remained whole. The CRA’s input into BLM planning took the form of clarifying the Best Available Science regarding the Aquatic Conservation Strategy. Our work produced two major reports, sponsored a major science panel of the Northwest’s best aquatic scientists and provided vast input into the BLM’s planning process.

Main Problems of the 2016 BLM WOPR-2

-Eliminating the strong water quality and habitat provisions of the Northwest Forest Plan, reducing streamside no-logging buffers by half or more (a loss of 300,000 acres of streamside reserves). These reductions threaten wild native fish, water quality, terrestrial wildlife, and aquatic recreational opportunities.

-Introducing loopholes that would increase logging in older forest, termed late-successional reserves, and eliminate survey requirements for sensitive wildlife that depend on old forest habitat to thrive. In addition, the aforementioned 300,000 acres of riparian reserves, which had been intended to grow into old forest and bolster habitat for old forest species, is now fair game for logging.

-Enacting the least ambitious carbon sequestration alternative analyzed. Over the next century, the status quo would sequester twice as much carbon. This during a time of climate crisis!

-Focusing on more intensive, clearcut-style logging on nearly half a million acres of forests, abandoning the direction towards restoration of forests and watersheds under the Northwest Forest Plan.

-Designating additional recreation areas where logging and off-road motorized use take precedence.

Where We Are Today

On August 10th, 2016 the Coast Range Association and six other plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against the BLM over the new district plans.

Here is the Brief filed by our attorneys at Earthjustice & the Western Environmental Law Center.

To date, two federal courts have ruled against all claims in our BLM lawsuit. We now head to the Appellate court. An appeal has been filed and the full brief is due in late July. The brief is available for download below.

Opinion: Forest Service and BLM Threaten Stream Protections in Oregon

-By Chuck Willer and Rowan Baker

September 2019 brief appealing suit against the BLM’s Western Oregon Management Plan:

View the May 5th, 2020 hearing for the Pacific Rivers v. BLM in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. From the court, “Plaintiffs appeal the district court’s summary judgment in favor of federal agencies in plaintiffs’ challenge to the Bureau of Land Management’s decision to amend 1995 Resource Management Plans for six BLM districts in Oregon forests.”

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