Furnish on NW Forest Plan changes

Guest viewpoint in the Register Guard.

New plans of the Forest Service and BLM are leaning toward increased cutting and reduced buffers next to streams.

Isn’t it a little early in the process (which hasn’t formally started yet) to be leaning anywhere – or to have any reliable information about how the agencies are leaning?


  1. That’s called a preemptive strike, Jon. You know that. And you probably know Furnish or at least his history.
    The NWFP could have been all right but its a failure, a complete wreck, a giant money pit that used to be a money fountain.

  2. Gee, guys, I’m curious to hear more about my “history” — especially as to NWFP implementation while on Siuslaw NF. As regards increasing harvest, everything I hear from the agencies is that chronic shortfall on PSQ needs to be addressed. And Gordy Reeves views on riparian reserve buffers are no secret.

  3. Thanks for the reminder that the Forest Service isn’t the only game in town. That sort of puts an early spotlight on the question of maintaining the “Northwest Forest Plan” as consistent approach to conserving northwest ecosystems. Does BLM making a unilateral decision mean that this Administration has already taken a position on breaking up the Plan (and is every national forest going to go its own way)? What is it that justifies a different decision based on the same best available scientific information? Or does the BLM’s preferred alternative foreshadow the Forest Service approach? (And what do the consulting agencies think about this?)

    • That last point is the key one — what do FWS & NOAA-Fisheries think about BLM’s proposal? BLM has yet to initiate formal consultation, but the DEIS telegraphs (in “Sub-Alternative B”) where BLM thinks regulators might push matters. The spotted owl’s poor demographic performance, which the DEIS tries to ignore by omitting the last 5 years of data, will likely compel FWS to up-list it to endangered status and require that all owl pairs and suitable habitat on federal land be protected. On the fish side, it’s hard to imagine NOAA-Fisheries signing off on halving riparian protection for salmon critical habitat. Restoration of PNW salmon has required major commitments from every player, especially electrical utilities and ratepayers, who are footing most of the bill. The notion that BLM, a minor league federal agency if ever there was one, will get a free pass is silly.

      • Not sure of the sequence of events here, but there should also be a discussion of the “inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms” (ESA listing factor) in the existing Plan (their effectiveness has been well-monitored, right?). Even if the current Plan is found adequate, weakening it could be reason for up-listing threatened species.

        It will be interesting to see the Forest Service comments on the BLM proposal, because of this relationship to the listing status, and because (if we’re going to have different plans for different places) it may shift more responsibility to the Forest Service to offset what the BLM is doing.

  4. I think buffers are insane. I was on a writing trip some years back to Oregon during the post-Biscuit “science wars” and was horrified at the chimney stripes mandated by PACFISH and INFISH standards. Someday, the foolhardiness of leaving fuels like that will be proven.
    And Jim, the fact you advise WELC these days is more than enough history. Sorry.

    • Hmmm… FYI I have not been a WELC advisor for several years. But that said, without knowing the content of my advice, how are you to judge my “history”? It seems a bit simplistic to define me simply by my being associated with WELC. Here’s a suggestion: if you want to know me, read my recent memoir Toward A Natural Forest, or call me and we can actually talk.

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