Protest of Jazz Timber Sale

I had the pleasure of observing a protest of the Mt. Hood National Forest’s Jazz timber sale yesterday at the S.O. in Sandy, Oregon. Photo here. The group Bark organized the protest. Maybe 50 people were there (the USFS folks locked the S.O. doors and stayed inside). Bark’s video is here. For “street theater” they brought in a small wading pool, added water, let some kids splash in it, and then dumped in a few buckets of soil to illustrate how the local streams would look after the harvesting (the kids loved playing in the mud). A young woman in a salmon costume writhed in simulated pain and then “died.”

Portland TV station KGW covered the event; its video had a reporter at the protest and “on location” at a river a mile from the sale.

The sale is to be a thinning of old harvest units. USFS documents here, including Bark’s lawsuit and the district court’s decision in favor of the USFS. The decision notice describes the sale: “The Forest proposes a thinning project of approximately 2,053 acres of plantations ranging in age from 30 to 60 years old. The average tree size in plantations is 12 inches diameter. Variable density thinning is proposed to remove the smaller trees while creating skips and gaps.”

(Skips and gaps — a phrase used (coined?) by Jerry Franklin and Norm Johnson in describing t heir “ecological forestry.”)

Bark’s main concerns are that the USFS would recommission 12 miles of decommissioned roads, leading to potential erosion. The group’s leader conceded that 9 acres in the sale area are suitable for logging. Bark announced that it will file an appeal with the 9th Circuit.

My take: The stands need thinning. The agency plans to take great care around streams. This is about as benign as logging gets.

25 Comments

  1. Nine whole acres! How generous. And — what did they do with the muddy goo from the pool? Was that sent down the storm drain with the “drains to stream” painted adjacent? Oh, but that’s “noble cause” muddy goo. Good goo.

    • “[…] only 9 acres of the Jazz Thinning area have a Timber Emphasis land allocation, whereas, for example 734 acres are designated riparian reserves, 726 acres are late-successional reserves, 1,068 acres bare the “earthflow land” allocation.”

      Excerpt from Estacada News: “The beat goes on with contested ‘Jazz’ timber project” 23 April 2014 http://pamplinmedia.com/en/218199

        • Sharon, It looks like “noticing” simply provided an excerpt from the Estacada News and in that article it said, “only 9 acres of the Jazz Thinning area have a Timber Emphasis land allocation, whereas, for example 734 acres are designated riparian reserves, 726 acres are late-successional reserves, 1,068 acres bare the “earthflow land” allocation.”

          Besides, seems to me that bare vs bear is the least of worry when taken in context of the rest of the info in that paragraph.

          • I guess it is not clear that earthflow is an “allocation”..Then bearing an allocation and physically baring the ground are two different things especially for a thinning.
            Now if they are in fact old plantations then they are not late successional, unless they are very very old…and last I heard thinning gets you bigger trees faster , making more old growth like characteristics sooner. As a person who was actually around when these guys were clearcut and planted, I am not worried about thinning them with today’s restrictions.
            PS I was in Estacada the summer of 1971.

            • Sharon: I worked for LaRo Lbr in the ’70s, and we logged up Fish Creek and other spots for Avison in Molalla. We were logging thinning sales in those days. Small hemlock that was tight grained and clear on the butt log. And then I quit and fished for a few years, and then hooked up with Joe Grimm and we bought salvage sales, some on the Estacada RD in the late ’70 and early ’80s, and then Joe died in the night of a stroke and that ended. (Joe’s name was on a sale we were waiting for prices to rise on, in order to sell logs. When his widow decided that we needed to get it logged, as she had gotten some letters from the Mt Hood about it, her son and I went up to make a logging plan, and could no longer find two of the salvage units. We did find pieces of the boundary marker cardboard tags, with the sale name on them. And a couple with the subsequent sale boundary posters stapled over the ones for the sale we owned. Photos and notes were taken. The USFS had SOLD, in another subsequent sale, two of our unlogged units. Orem Doty was the Mt Hood timber staff head, and he quietly just closed the sale and let the widow off the hook of having to log it. B clause deal. Substantial change in sale after sale was sold by USFS, the change brought about by the USFS. LOL.)

              So Joe and I had bought a salvage sale earlier, and weighted our bid on one species, most of the sale at higher elevation where there was some blue plate nobel fir. I think we bid the hemlock way up. No matter, we had a little line machine on rubber and would road side the logs and pick them up and haul to the mill with a self loader. At that time there was the Carter Recession and people were without work. The Estacada RD had sold or issued, whatever, 35,000 wood cutting permits (close to Portland metro area) that were good for ten cords each. The wood cutters were cutting up every log near the road and lots of dead trees near the road. Very little USFS law enforcement. So whatever the species we bid high, we would not haul during the week, and made darn sure the low bid species were all hauled, scaled and dumped, daily. We adjusted. We would come back monday morning and all the logs of the high bid species were gone. Just sawdust strips along the road. It got so bad that our self loader had a big log to load, so he left it so as to come back in the morning to get it, mid week. In the morning, the hydraulic fluid was stiffer and he could life more the first thing, and even then have to put one end on the trailer and then run ahead and put the other on the truck. When he came back for the afternoon load, maybe three hours later, that big log, all of it, was gone. Cut into firewood and hauled away. Mid day. Mid week. Big, clear second cut valuable log.

              Some time after that, I was called into a Federal court case of timber theft by another salvage logger. Our efforts evidently were not under scrutiny, and I was to be a witness for the defendant, and how and why I never did know. Maybe because I had qualified to bid on the sale. I was riding up the elevator with a USFS mucky muck, in the US Courthouse, and he asked me why I was there. I told him I had no idea. A witness, I guess, and I had not talked to any attorneys. It would be interesting. I got to testify that I had looked at the sale in question, and the timber that was missing (according to the prospectus and cruise) was never there in my field notes. I thought at the time I looked at the sale, that the “cedar beavers” had already stolen the cedar in question in the form of shake bolts and there was none there, or little, to buy or sell. And then I got to add that when the RD puts 35,000 wood cutting permits out there, at ten cords each, they have, on paper, disposed of at least twice the annual cut in the timber plan for the whole of the Ranger District. So how anyone can account for timber missing from a salvage, dead and down, timber sale, timber that did not show up in the scale tickets from a sale area, was something I could not get a grasp on. All I knew was that any logs on a landing over night or over the weekend would be gone on monday morning, only the sawdust trail of wood cutting left for evidence that they ever existed. But since it was not recognized as a problem, by the District, timber purchasers just had to exist with the deal and do whatever to make sure little was left for wood cutters over night or the weekend. My trick was to pound several feet of rebar into an Indian Paint infected silver fir cull, and leave it sticking out of the cull deck enough to be tempting. That ruined countless saw chains in a month’s time. Nobody figured it out or we would have had equipment vandalized. If someone hauled those logs off after the sale was over, to a chipping operation, I would hope the metal detector would have found it.

              I don’t know where the Jazz sale is, but we have to remember that there was a re-load up by the Lynx power station, operated by a timber purchaser who was ?Dwyer? Lumber Co., in Milwaukee, OR, at the time, and I believe Park Lbr. had a similar large operation lower down on the Clackamas just behind Estacada. Both were large, large timber sales with the intent to get some serious roading of the whole of the area post WWII. Those two outfits I know had 100 million plus cutting contracts and attendant roading requirements. That was over 60 years ago. There has to be a considerable number of acres and volume of large diameter, now, second growth to be thinned and stand managed on those lands, and then the cutting in the 1960s to 1988-90 of which probably half needs some logging treatment, and other stands need pre-com thinning. Just to get trees to growing and not becoming a mass of co-dominant white wood standing still, which that area is prone to doing without fire. I did plant trees on the BLM in the Hillock Burn country, and we had to net all the cedar. We ran out of tubes one day, and when we came back in the morning to tube the trees, they were all gone. Elk. Ate every cedar we planted. Overnight. I guess I have “overnight” thoughts about that end of the world. Bad stuff happens overnight there.

            • Sharon says — “last I heard thinning gets you bigger trees faster , making more old growth like characteristics sooner”

              That is a misleading oversimplification. While it is true that thinning produces a few large trees faster, thinning involves a lot of trade-offs. Late successional conditions include a variety of features that are adversely affected by thinning such as dense canopy, snags, dead wood, etc.

              I do not know the merits of this project, but I am not willing to assume that all thinning is ecologically beneficial.

  2. Interesting. I watched the KGW coverage. Seems like the area is prone to landslides, and has some earth flow issues. But, hey, at least that part of Oregon never gets a lot of rain, right? And it’s not like there have been any landslide/earth flow issues in the Pacific Northwest recently that may have been triggered by previous logging. I mean, I’m certain that if a landslide killed 41 people in say, the Oso, WA area, that someone would have reported about it here on this blog. Oh wait, never mind.

    • Matthew,

      The risks of erosion and landslides is addressed at length in the EA. The district court had this to say:

      “Plaintiff’s concern over reactivating or accelerating movement of earthflows and the
      effects of road building has been adequately addressed by the EA. In the EA, an analysis was
      performed to study the project’s impact on the hydrologic recovery of earthflows. AR 21081-85.
      The Aggregate Recovery Percentage (ARP) Index was used to determine compliance with Forest
      Plan standards and guidelines. AR 21082. The Jazz project would affect parts of 12 different
      earthflows. AR 21083. The current conditions of these 12 earthflows are designated as
      hydrologically recovered.3 Id. At the recommendation of a slope stability specialist, all unstable
      and potentially unstable areas were examined and eliminated from the project. AR 21080,
      21085. The Forest Service predicts that the project is not likely to cause the acceleration of
      movement of earthflows. AR 21083. Additionally, the slope stability specialist found that the
      construction of new temporary roads “would have no perceptible effect on slope stability.” AR
      21081. The new and existing roads would be decommissioned after the project, resulting in a net
      beneficial effect on slope stability.”

      By the way, one of Bark’s stated goals is: “Bark will end all profit-driven extraction of resources and enabling infrastructure in Mt. Hood National Forest and surrounding public lands.”

      In my opinion, Bark is making a mountain (a mud slide?) out of a mole hill (a wading pool?) to further than aim.

  3. I am pretty sure none of the trees shown in the video are going to be cut, or might not even be near the sale. I am pretty sure they won’t notice any change to the river while logging takes place. I don’t think the sale has been advertised yet. It is just another example of no common ground, as with most forest environmental groups. (I think might good idea to log some of those big trees along the river.)
    I would protest this sale though, why make one sale of over 2,000 acres. Why not have 10 sales. Most of the Forest Service sales take over $50,000 cash just to bid on them, and a half of a million dollars or more to operate. It keep everyone one but the big guys from participating. This is the peoples forest and the people ought to be able to participate, more the better. I will never understand why they don’t make them smaller. More people can participate, bid values are usually higher and there is more stimulation to the economy. You know spread the wealth around a little.
    The landslides in Washington were horrible, but I don’t think you can blame them on logging. Yes landsides do happen after logging sometimes, but I don’t think this was the case in Washington. Looking at aerial photographs of the area it looked like the whole valley is pretty slippery, and had slipped at one time or another, and yes, been logged at one time or another. The area of the slide looked liked it had good forest cover on it.
    I have not seen landslides caused by thinning sales.

    • The USFS is trying to gain some sort of economy of scale. All the “ology” work that has to be done in sale preparation is more valid for statistics and dollars of effort per unit in a large sale area, larger sample area, using the same number of samples. Money and budgets are finite. The whole world is now about economy of scale, and using fewer people. I have to guess the government models are working the same way. Use computer models more than ground truthed data. Then, you add the piece per shift demands of a competitive milling or conversion operation, and with a large sale area, and high piece count, the purchaser has more assurance of adequate wood from the investment on a per shift basis. I takes a whole lot of trees cut into 2.5 segments per tree or less, and those segments again halved at the mill, all to go through a one pass sawing or prepared block veneer process in volumes enough to justify the investment and returns. Wood is a commodity and commodities lend themselves to large installations, effort and expense savings processes.

      So for the benefit of Government and Business, large sales get more area treated, more logs to the mill in a shorter time frame, and both goals are legitimate concerns of large entities in business or government. After all, the greenies killed the small, independent mill group, perhaps once 400 strong, that existed on Federal timber. Now they have to live with mega mills and better funded resistance, more able to litigate on their own. Unintended consequences? Or was that the plan all along? A large Federal timber sale program will mostly impact, not favorably, small land owners with no capacity to mill logs, but only sell them. That is why export is so valuable to so many small entities and land owners.

      If you look at the private side timberland management, the managers go through the wood available on fee simple land, not in a tract basis for all ages of a rotation, but age rotation on the whole of the tributary holdings to the particular plant or operational division. The whole of it might be clear cut over a decade and then is not touched until the next cutting cycle. Operations move to another large tract. The wildlife value is large security cover area and early succession vegetation types over a large uninterrupted area. The Feds are providing the old growth habitats and the enviros are actively trying to put all the land possible into those older age types, with a modicum of success. Too bad they have to watch them do what they do naturally, and that is burn. Franklin, et al, figured it out, and are trying to un-ring their PNW Forest Plan bell with their “new” ideas of how and what to cut where. And meeting resistance all the way. Must be tough when your gods go backwards on you.

      It’s an election year. We will hear all kinds of pathetic statements from urban swells looking to influence rural voters who know so much more than those poor souls running for office. But they are what you will get, with their Ivy League law degrees and carpetbagger credentials. No hope. No change. Just words, meaningless words. The West is run by its urban majority, and the rural poor will still be just that. Hard to make a living selling SnoCones to tourists two month of the year. And the District Ranger will still commute 60 miles to the nearest urban area to live, and to be nearer the SO. Good roads and good tires provide that opportunity. And the kids don’t have to go to the substandard rural school. The disconnect from what once was is that complete.

      • You say “the greenies killed the small, independent mill group,”

        That’s what big timber wants you to believe. In fact, most of the small mills went belly up long before the conservation movement got toe-hold on federal lands. Most of those that failed after the owl was listed lost out during a period of intense industry consolidation. Big mills not only survived but grew, and they now have the capacity to mill more timber than all the little mills they replaced. Read your history.

        • What a coincidence….so the 80% reduction in USFS timber harvest just happened to coincide with the demise of small mills….so therefore, I presume there would have been no bidders for that 80% of timber anyway. Wow man…no harm done. And war is peace, love is hate, ect. ect.

          • What a coincidence, the 80% reduction in USFS timber harvest just happened to coincide with the demise of most of the ancient, old-growth forests on National Forests.

            And wow, what a coincidence that it also just happened to coincide with the establishment of NAFTA (1994) and the World Trade Organization (1995).

            But we’re positive global economic factors and the emergence/domination of the transnational timber corporations had absolutely no impact on small timber mills, right? It was entirely the fault of a small band of public forest loving hippies.

            I mean, it’s not like those same global economic factors and the emergence/domination of the transnational corporations have had any sort of impact on any other types of manufacturing and jobs in the US of A, right?

            The very real fact that the USA lost 5 million manufacturing jobs (that amounts to 1 out of every 4) since NAFTA and the WTO went into effect clearly doesn’t apply to anything within the timber industry. I mean, the fact that the U.S. Department of Labor has a NAFTA-Transitional Adjustment Assistance program and that tens of thousands of U.S. timber/wood products workers have successfully gotten NAFTA-TAA must just be some mistake or oversight, right?

            • So we spend our FS timber sales dollars putting together sales for multinational companies like Interfor, who have bought that last couple of sales on Mt Hood. I still think if you broke these sale units up local loggers could buy them and the mills would still get the logs. I know it would be more paperwork for the FS but they are pretty good at paperwork.
              I still think you could create more economy for the local rural communities by having small salvage sales of large trees than all the thinning put together. They is always some fool wanting to run his own sawmill.
              And yes the NWFP did cause the demise of most remaining sawmills that depended on federal timber,and help facilitate the growth of the mega mill. The environmental community continues to work to make sure our diverse timber resources are not available to small operators.

              • Here in California, it was the California Spotted Owl and Clinton’s Sierra Nevada Framework Plan that reduced harvest levels to 1/30th of the peak 80’s levels, imposing diameter limits of 20″ in most areas, and even down to 12″ in other areas. Since Sierra Pacific Industries has plenty of their own lands, the smaller mills either went out of business or were bought up by SPI. They are now the sole bidder on so many projects over the last decade. Luckily, the amended SNFP returned the diameter limits to the original CASPO guidelines. It seems like it is working well, with less litigation and more site-specific multiple use projects.

              • Hello Bob: For the record, our organization has long supported the concept of breaking up larger National Forest timber sale contracts into smaller sale units so local, more independent loggers and companies, could directly purchase them. The Forest Service and the larger timber mill owners always seemed to oppose this concept.

  4. My question is where is the middle ground that is achievable? Twelve miles of road is something to look at considering the problems FS acknowledged when it decommissioned the twelve road miles some time in the past. It seems that if the roads are thoughtfully addressed and perhaps mitigated by plans to decommission more than twelve miles following the sale (or some other net decrease in roaded miles or road related problems) the legitimate concerns of non-technical people whose medium just happens to be theater might be resolved. The need for the thinning doesn’t appear to be their concern. Step up to the plate.

    • According to the EA, the agency would reconstruct 12 miles of existing road alignments and then decommission them again, and decommission another 5 miles that weren’t previously decommissioned. So the result is a net increase in decommissioned roads.

      Here is an excerpt from the EA that shows that the agency adopted a middle ground, in part by using helicopter logging to avoid recommissioning 6 miles of road:

      2.3.1 One suggestion was to not build new roads or reopen old road alignments to avoid impacts to streams and aquatic resources (s. 1.6.1.1).

      This option was considered. During development of the proposed action the potential for reconstructing more roads than are included in Alternative B, was considered
      (s. 3.12). These were the roads that access units 16, 20, 28, 36, 40, 60, 116, 150 and 152. These roads were considered and eliminated from the proposed action due to aquatic risk and cost issues. Approximately six miles of road were considered but eliminated and logging systems were changed to helicopter. Even though helicopter logging is very expensive, it was thought that when mixed with the remaining lower-cost units, the project would still be viable. Section 2.3.5 has additional discussion of helicopter feasibility.

      With the proposed action, new temporary roads were strategically located on gentle slopes and would not cross any streams. The existing road alignments proposed for reconstruction have some stream crossings; however, they have been designed to minimize impacts to aquatic resources (s. 1.4.6.3). Road work included in the proposed action includes only those road segments that do not pose an adverse impact on aquatic resources and are needed to efficiently achieve the vegetation health and diversity objectives discussed in section 1.3.

      Each road proposed for reconstruction and use was strategically assessed for resource impact and economic viability. Fisheries specialists on the interdisciplinary team and with the National Marine Fisheries Service found that the proposed action and project design criteria are sufficient to protect aquatic resources (s. 3.3.3). The proposed road construction and reconstruction would be consistent with Forest Plan standards and guidelines and the Aquatic Conservation Strategy.

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