BLM Scattered Apples Timber Sale Mediation

I was going to recommend that Congress task the US Institute of Environmental Conflict Resolution with developing a mediation process for FS fuels reduction projects or restoration projects, and looked up the link.

Lo and behold, they had this 2005 project information posted to their site:

BLM Scattered Apples Timber Sale Mediation
April – October 2005

Location: Oregon
Background

Together with a conservation group, residents of Williams, Oregon filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) over a timber sale. This led the BLM and other affected parties to request the assistance of the U.S. Institute. The U.S. Institute worked with contracted mediators to conduct an initial assessment of the situation.

They first determined that a negotiated agreement was feasible and then made recommendations on how to proceed. The parties agreed to a focused mediation of the Scattered Apples timber sale. Legal representatives for each party worked with the mediators to design the process, conditions, and basic ground rules for mediation.
Results and Accomplishments

The seven-month mediation resulted in an agreement that dismissed the lawsuit. The settlement allowed 75% of the original timber sale to go forward. It left in place 152 acres of old-growth trees that serve as habitat for species such as the northern spotted owl.
Timber sales cancelled or suspended due to legislative and legal efforts cost the federal government millions of dollars a year. Costs include contractors’ claims for the value of replacement timber and damages due to the effects of cancelled contracts on jobs, payroll, and taxes.
The mediated agreement was reached by investing $66,000 in mediation services in addition to the costs of stakeholder participation with their legal representatives.

Highlights/Innovation

This case is reportedly the first successful mediation of a BLM timber sale in Oregon. It highlights some of the alternative avenues available for resolving this kind of dispute. The settlement could serve as a prototype for other successful timber sale mediations.
The Scattered Apples settlement is innovative in that it includes a provision for continuing community oversight. The stakeholders can ride along with contract administrators during logging activities and visit harvested sites. Additional efforts to improve long-term communication and working relationships between stakeholders are ongoing.
In the words of plaintiff Lesley Adams, outreach coordinator for Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, the agreement “is a great example of the BLM working with conservationists and the community to come up with a plan everyone can support.”

Here’s a link to a report..

I guess this article is some of the “rest of the story”.. Oregonians, what’s your perspective?

4 Comments

  1. “I wonder why this didn’t catch on?” Maybe because it is a “slippery slope”? I can see it becoming another layer of delay and red tape. Many eco-folk no longer want to eliminate timber projects. Instead, they merely want to control every parameter. Example; cut all submerchantable ladder fuels, leaving all trees over 10″ in diameter.

    Another problem is that some serial litigators will never give up in their quest to eliminate timber sales, no matter what. Also, there is no payday in compromise efforts for eco-lawyers.

  2. We need some big trees to fill the demands for our markets. There are big trees that can be harvested on public land without ill effect on the environment. People who don’t like timbers sales will often go along with them if you agree to harvest only the small, lest valuable trees.
    Kind of leaves our little sawmill and several others out of business. It also leaves our customers out of material. Oh that’s right they can always go to Canada to get it. Guess we didn’t need these jobs in our rural communities anyways.

    • Bob:

      As we both know, there are millions of big trees and sound snags in western Oregon. The selective removal of hundreds of thousands of these trees would actually be a big improvement in the environment for many native plants and animals (“biodiversity”). The selective removal of these trees would also benefit hundreds of small businesses and thousands of families in our rural communities, as well as reduce costs and improve recreational opportunities for our urban citizens and provide our counties with renewed operating funds. Over the past 30 years it has deeply concerned me to watch “science” politically used and degraded to achieve these results. Yes, it is a huge benefit to Weyerhaeuser and other multi-national firms to keep large amounts of the public’s resources off the market, but it is at an even more enormous cost to our rural citizens and communities and to our nation’s treasuries and reserves. I still don’t get it.

  3. Sharon – Thanks for this great post

    Larry, BobS and BobZ – all good comments.

    To emphasize what Larry said, I think that it is possible that the reason that this didn’t catch on is because some anti sound forest management groups don’t want resolution because that means timber will be cut and any cut in excess of 0 is unacceptable.

    Maybe the USFS should just plead no contest and let the plaintiffs win and wait until all of the owls and forests are burned up or eaten and the public is so disgusted with the false environmental science that they turn the USFS loose to do what is best overall for the environment instead of letting radicals impose self defeating laws that ignore the macrocosm in a foolish effort to save a few microcosms.

    Anyway that you look at it we are going to pay a big price. Why not cut the costs and let the radicals fall on their faces? I think that I’m being facetious.

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