More Stories on O&C Lands


What I like about this issue (O&C bill) is that people are trying to work across political boundaries in a bipartisan way. It’s hard work, and we can see how little appreciated it is by observing what we read.

Having lived in Oregon in the 80’s and seeing some of the same political faces, it is fascinating to see what de Fazio and Wyden are up to. And because of the unique legal history of the O&C lands, what happens there cannot be readily exported. Nevertheless, it must be seen as threatening the current status quo by Pew and others because they are rising up with newspaper ads and probably other more subtle tools.

Here and
are stories from the Eugene Register-Guard.

The sweeping bill would jeopardize salmon, spotted owls, old growth and water­sheds — including those where most Oregonians draw their drinking water, said Sean Stevens, executive director of the Oregon Wild environmental group.

“It really is the worst attack on public lands across the country in a generation,” he said.

That’s pretty strong statement.. last I heard Idaho and Colorado Roadless were the “worst attack”-and the O&C land approach is not likely to work elsewhere due to the differing legal basis. So this seems like more of an ideological battle- with national groups coming in the fray with their newspaper ads.

We have discussed the spotted owl here on the blog.. in Oregon, where they shoot barred owls. Salmon.. well agriculture, urban development, and dams all have bad effects on salmon- and there are BMP’s for timber harvesting. Old growth…well, there seems to be plenty for many purposes, but we don’t know how much is “enough” do we? Drinking water.. well if Oregon’s state forest practices act doesn’t adequately protect water, that seems to be a greater problem than just with O&C lands. Which is related to the salmon issue as well.

If the Oregon Forest Practices Act is not strong enough to protect watersheds, then this is a problem far beyond the 2.4 million O&C lands, as can be seen by the white on this map. And if the green is the high-level FS quality protection..well then, how much is enough, or does it have to be all the green and how much more?

35 thoughts on “More Stories on O&C Lands”

  1. Sharon: If you truly want to see why we are having such problems in Oregon, look again at the white areas, which also include most our our major cities and major farms — we have essentially become a colony of the US, with most of our land and resources being controlled by the federal government. The Oregon Forest Practices Act has been in effect longer than I have been breathing air and has a wonderful record of sound, scientific management. The Tillamook Forest is one fine example, but the reforestation success on our private tree farms and industrial forestlands include many others.

    Federal rules and regulations — and resulting court cases — over the past 40 years have pretty much ruined many of the lives, communities, and industries that helped to house our nation’s families after the Great Depression and WW II. Socialism doesn’t seem to be working here at all. For another example, match up all of the forest fires in western Oregon during the past 40 years with these landownership patterns. Pretty much one to one between the federal lands (which we are being told have been affected by Global Warming) and don’t include the private lands (which apparently did not get the GW memo). This map is the bottom line as to why poverty and wildfires have come to characterize many Oregon counties in recent decades.

    • Bob; “The Oregon Forest Practices Act has been in effect longer than I have been breathing air and has a wonderful record of sound, scientific management.” I disagree. The OR FPA has been of concern to EPA, NMFS, and numerous NGOs for decades for failing to adequately protect aquatic resources. The state of OR fought hard to prevent adequate protection of water quality let alone the health of residents, and I believe the fp rules are weaker than they were before Earthjustice brought the first Coastal Coho ESA challenges.

      And; “Socialism doesn’t seem to be working here at all.” I could just as easily say “corporatism doesn’t seem to be working here at all.” How many closed mills would still be open if no log exports were allowed? Who is Oregon really a colony for–the Feds or the corporations/Wall Street?

      • louploup: Then we disagree. I don’t think those groups and laws did much of anything to affect fish populations — other than shutting down hatcheries and related fisheries — based both on my own experiences since the early 1950s and research by myself and others. Mostly the lawyers have made a lot of money and no doubt there are a lot more rules and regulations, but resulting wildfires and degraded (“filled with weeds”) streambanks have had little to do with “improved water quality” — whatever that might be.

        Yes, you could be making a similar statement just as easy, but who owns the land? Not Wall Street. And I’m mostly talking about the 23,000 small woodland owners and the hundreds of family owned businesses that have been adversely affected by these rules and related events.

        And to say that the State of Oregon “fought hard” to prevent “adequate protection of water quality” is just plain ridiculous (if Sharon wasn’t asking for more civility, I would have used a much more accurate adjective). No matter what “adequate protection” might mean. Here’s some work I helped with on coho about 20 years ago (and I’ve never seen Earthjustice anywhere near the woods, ever):

        If you can find the time to read it, I’d be interested in your thoughts.

          • I had a posting almost disappear this morning. I was signed out of WordPress while I was writing. To get it back, I hit the back button. I then had to sign in and then post my comment. One good safeguard is to select and copy your post, until after you are sure that the system took it. Losing a carefully-worded post is very frustrating.

            • Nope, I stupidly did not copy it first. Gone. WordPress Sucks. I’m not spending that hour again. Sorry, Bob. And I’ve tried to post this short redo twice and it disappears. WordPress REALLY sucks! I’ll remove the URLs and try again…

              Short version–Yes, we disagree. I don’t trust NCASI–it’s gray literature and is an industry funded shop. I have read that specific 1997 report. Here’s a couple more recent pieces somewhat supportive of your position that make more sense to me:
              Keying Forest Stream Protection to Aquatic Ecosystem Values in Multi-ownership Watersheds
              Brian R. Pickard

              Policy and Management for Headwater Streams in the Pacific
              Northwest: Synthesis and Reflection
              Paul W. Adams

              Also, you might not have seen them but it is not true that Earthjustice has “never [been] anywhere near the woods”. In the course of the coastal coho cases they produced extensive expert documentation of the devastation of aquatic habitat due to industrial forestry. As did the more recent Decker v. NEDC roads case.

              • Loup Loup..

                I hear that you don’t trust NCASI. But I trust George Ice who works there. He has been contributing to the field for years. And you think experts funded by Earthjustice to testify are not biased? Or less biased than NCASI? Really?

                Can you find the statements and post them so we can see who the individuals are and what they said? I think getting these arguments out of the courtroom would help illuminate the issue.

                I think this is fundamentally about corporate NGO’s fear of losing their power over western public land management, and all these water issues are really setting up for if Wyden gives in on clearcutting. At the end of the day though, I predict if Wyden comes up with something with whatever sized buffers and no clearcutting, they will think of something else.

                but that’s just based on experience.

                • I am not putting NCASI on the balance with Earthjustice or other “corporate NGOs.” As I’ve indicated in other comments, as a primarily grass-roots community and sustainable resource advocate, I have had issues with the national groups myself.

                  I am speaking more about NCASI as the purveyor of largely non-peer reviewed science (“gray literature”) versus the majority of academic scientists. The NGOs largely rely on the latter, and in a significant portion of the cases they bring, the courts agree with them.

                  Bottom line, our disagreement goes back to a fundamental difference in world views: Pinchot vs. Muir and all that. I know we need wood and other forest “products” but IMO, the Pinchot side of the public forest debate (and public resources on private forests) has been hijacked by corporatist interests. I do not believe this result is good for our democracy.

                  • I would like to hear more… who are these “corporatist interests” and what are the “public resources on private forests”?

                    I think I’ll ask the folks at NCASI about the “gray literature,” but I think the courts have a more sanguine view of the quality of peer review and the objectivity of journals than many of us who have worked in the science trenches do.

        • Bob: “. . . and I’ve never seen Earthjustice anywhere near the woods, ever.” Perhaps knowing that EJ used to be called Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund might help jog Bob’s memory. I worked as the outfit’s forester from the mid 80s to 1994. Too much time in the courtroom, but lots of nice woods work, too. Sorry I missed you, Bob!

          • Hi Andy: Actually, that was kind of a loaded statement. I usually go places in the woods where I don’t see anybody — including two of the three days I just spent with my kids near Wolf Rock, at the Blue River headwaters in Lane County. Problem is we were just about a 1/2 mile from the old RD cabin, a short and pleasnant drive from Eugene. Thirty years ago the place was packed with people — both loggers and recreationists. Same with the South Umpqua headwaters — spent about 25 days with an associate documenting 250,000-acres of contiguous forest and saw people on only four of those days — one or two appeared to be manning a meth lab, and we didn’t actually find any hikers until our last day, and they were from a local logging family. Almost all of the Wilderness trails had become obliterated with grass and forbs in the meadows and wind shake in the forested areas. Large areas of huckleberry fields tended by people for hundreds of years were disappearing under a forest canopy. Formerly popular campgrounds (e.g., Fish Lake) were vacant. The year I was supposed to start the research was delayed in part because of the two largest crown fires (Rainbow and Boze) in the forest’s history. I’ve never seen anyone from the environmental community at any of these places, but the fact is I’ve hardly seen anyone else, either. There seem to be a lot more people in certain areas of Wilderness, and none in most others. The woods are mostly vacant of people. This isn’t what we were told would happen.

        • IMHO, “Oregon seems to me to be a colony for well-funded national environmental NGOs” is an absurd statement. My experience is that, on average, local enviro groups are hard line in their opposition to national NGOs “selling out” in collaborative deals. In your framing of the politics, where do the large (and local medium sized) corporations fit? As you imply (“well-funded”), politics does not exist in a void apart from economics, and the political economy of Oregon is not based on gratifying national NGOs’ whims. The very fact of what de Fazio and Wyden are putting forward indicates how inaccurate your meme is.

          BTW, I agree with the first couple of comments (Ed Javorka and Andy Stahl) in response to your “sauce for the goose” post.

          • De Fazio knows what he put out won’t fly..putting out things that will never pass is just political theater (not to denigrate politics, I love the theater)

            Where Wyden comes out remains to be seen. But let’s look at the last 20 years or so and see who seems to be winning.

            Can we be more specific about “large and medium sized corporations?”

    • Bob

      This statement of yours is very important “Pretty much one to one between the federal lands (which we are being told have been affected by Global Warming) and don’t include the private lands (which apparently did not get the GW memo). This map is the bottom line as to why poverty and wildfires have come to characterize many Oregon counties in recent decades.”

      What do you have to put that in an easily understood visual form – It would be a very powerful statement that would definitively support many of my claims and expose the false premise that sound forest management reduces total wildfire acreage burned as demonstrated in figure #3 and my comments here:

      • Gil: I think Derek’s and Larry’s photos certainly illustrate these points. Not sure how to present the economic differences or human impacts graphically — other than graphs; and most people have trouble interpreting them, or too much insight to fully trust them.

        • Bob

          I was thinking more of an overlay of the map in the opening post. The overlay would show where the fires (?over 1,000 acres?) were and therefore the ownership/responsibility for the the fires. I thought that you were claiming that the fires were disproportionately on USFS lands. Did I misunderstand you?

          • Gil: Your graphic sounds like a good idea. No, you did not misunderstand me, and we don’t need to restrict ourselves to western Oregon — the same pattern has been shown throughout the western US and will be evident most years from 1987 forward. Most major fires start on federal lands, and most acres burned are in federal lands, and both numbers are significantly disproportionate to first started on private land or acres burned on private lands. I’m pretty sure the same patter exists with state lands, too, but less certain about Indian lands.

            Too, I’d use separate maps for 10,000+-acres fires and 100,000+-acre fires. Pretty confident the same patterns would emerge.

  2. Greenwire has a long article today entitled “War over logging in western Ore. heats up” — including an image of the “Welcome to Oregon – Home of the Clearcut” ad that reportedly appeared this week in the Eugene and Portland airports. Excerpt:

    “The media splurge includes a new full-page ad in yesterday’s Oregonian from nearly 20 environmental groups, asking Oregon lawmakers to “defend clean drinking water, older forests, fish and wildlife, outdoor recreation opportunities, and the future of Oregon’s economy.”

    In macabre humor, some environmental groups this week are posting illuminated ads at airports in Portland and Eugene and billboards along state highways in the shape of postcards that read: “Welcome to Oregon. Home of the Clearcut.”

    The ads, which are supported by Oregon Wild, the Portland Audubon Society, the Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity, show a hillside denuded of trees and welcome readers to visit, a site aiming to “draw attention to the shortcomings of the rules governing logging in Oregon.”

    • If I were Wyden, I would ask all the groups to put what they want in writing in a public venue where all can see….

      No rhetoric, no hype. Just get it on the table. So everyone can see everyone’s position. And if they have it written down and go back on it, they are out of the discussion.

      E.g., “our group would accept this if there were no clearcutting and 500 foot stream buffers..”

      My experience with some of these groups is that they say they don’t like something, but they actually don’t like the whole idea at all, ideologically, in this case, of more self-determination by the people and elected officials who live there. So if you give them something, they just go on to the next thing. Until you say “no” and then they say “we can’t support it.”

      • “So if you give them something, they just go on to the next thing. Until you say “no” and then they say “we can’t support it.”

        Ding ,ding, ding, ding, ding….we have a winner!!!

        What I’ve experienced is that if they write something down, they use enough “weasel wording” to ensure they always have an “out”. Matt linked to some “widely agreed upon” restoration principles in some comment recently that I read as “‘feel good” ideals with no actionable emphasis. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve worked with some of the organizations represented by the authors. It seems that many are on-board with more (pick you euphemism – restoration, treatment, fuel reduction, etc.) logging until it comes down to “this” acre and “that” tree. Then, it seems like Sharon’s quote above applies, which is very frustrating.

        At the end of the day I would rather see folks using their time to pursue legislation that may actually work (oh, and make it easier for us poor Agency folks to “follow the law”) than to try to find the proverbial “pot-of-gold” that would be common ground. In the meantime, the Agency folks are getting more skilled in legal wranglings. Off topic to this post, I realize, but still appropriate.

        • JZ: “What I’ve experienced is that if they write something down, they use enough “weasel wording” to ensure they always have an “out”.”

          And again, I could apply “they” to the timber industry in your sentence; they will rarely commit themselves to an enforceable metric. I’ve been working on/around these forest resource disputes for almost 40 years; it is extremely difficult to obtain an enforceable “deal” outside of litigation. Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try: just sayin’.

          • Louploup, I admire you perserverance. Personally, I’ve only been in “the game” 5 years or so…but in that time I’ve made myself a student of all the prior attempts at the whole idea of “common ground”…No disrespect, but your turnabout of my my statement reinforces my comment (and yours). Litigation and legislation. Of course we’ll keep trying to solve disputes…its fun, challenging and feels good.

  3. Opposition continues to put new restrictions on the ballot, and narrowly losing, in some cases. I find it odd that steep clearcutting is allowed, with tiny buffers above major rivers. Here in California, such a buffer would be 150-300 feet, if we actually did clearcuts, anymore. I think a standard buffer for Forest Service Region 6 is 147 feet, for a perennial stream. I’m not sure about rivers in Oregon NF’s.

    It was relatively recently that Oregon required replanting after harvest, too. There is quite a contrast between replanted forests, and “natural” forests, in coastal Oregon. I wonder what kind of rare animal will be found that prefers unmanaged clearcuts. *smirk* edit: aka “native forests”

    • Larry: Oregon was the very first State to require reforestation, in 1941. When seed trees, aerial seeding, and hand seeding proved ineffective in many locations (“mice’), Oregon became the very first State in the nation to adopt a comprehensive Forest Practices Act, which requires handplanting to meet mandated stocking levels, in 1971. That’s “relatively recent,” all right, except when compared to the other 49 states, including California.

      Clearcutting Douglas-fir and several other shade intolerant species is the most efficient, ecological, historically accurate (wind, fire, landslides, bugs, and volcanoes), and economical method of harvesting and regenerating these types of forests. Including riparian buffers (“weed farms with ready transport systems”). Redwoods and mixed conifer stands are different. We don’t have a sales tax, either.

  4. “If the Oregon Forest Practices Act is not strong enough to protect watersheds, then this is a problem far beyond the 2.4 million O&C lands.”

    Yes, indeed. It is a huge problem, far beyond the O&C lands.

    And that is why there is so much principled and science-based opposition to the Sagebrush-rebellion-style de facto forest privatization proposed by DeFazio and Walden, from Oregon Wild, local independent foresters, sustainable wood brokers, recreation businesses, and yes, urban residents who are the co-owners of these public lands.

    And that’s why this is part of the Senator’s perspective:

    “Wyden’s chief concern with the House bill is that it would place 1.6 million acres of O&C land into a trust that would be managed by the state. Wyden likened that to a privatization plan for federal lands that would put them beyond the reach of federal environmental laws.”

    For several concrete reasons, I disagree with the Senator’s perspective that increased logging is the solution to some [moving target] public problem.

    But I do very much appreciate the distinction he makes from DeFazio’s truly radical, anti-government proposal.

    • Kevin, I think you and Wyden are using a bit of rhetoric “sagebrush rebellion style forest privatization”. State lands are held in trust and we would not call them “privatized” would we?

      Are states “anti-government” when they manage state lands through trusts?

      And the idea of “science-based” opposition.. there are plenty of scientists with different perspectives on this issue. If we’re talking about inviolability of property rights (urban residents have the property right as co-owners, to effectively stop locals from their traditional uses of the land) that doesn’t sound like a scientific issue. It sounds like a power/property rights issue.

      • You ask “Are states “anti-government” when they manage state lands through trusts?” No, but land management agencies often act counter to the public interest because of pressure from those with power who are focused on making money. It’s been like this since the public domain was created over the industrialists’ howling objections.

        At the suggestion of someone on a prior post, I have been reading Jack Ward Thomas’ “Journals.” He nails it when he says F.S. has had a “Faustian bargain” with industry to “get the cut out.” State agencies are worse since they are primarily mandated by state law to make money for beneficiaries as opposed to meeting “multiple use” standards like the F.S. I’ve been involved in this fight in Washington since the 70s (and watched the same fight play out in Oregon) and think I have a pretty clear view of the political dynamics at play.

        And what does “effectively stop locals from their traditional uses of the land” mean? IMO, the fight has little to do with “rural interests”; it has to do with corporate control over the land base and the resources thereon. The enviro NGOs could have never existed and the rural communities (especially in Oregon) would still have been screwed by over harvesting, chemicals poisoning, and exporting of jobs (logs).

        I agree with you that the question is “a power/property rights issue” but disagree with how you frame the power and rights.

        • louploup: “The enviro NGOs could have never existed and the rural communities (especially in Oregon) would still have been screwed by over harvesting, chemicals poisoning, and exporting of jobs (logs).”

          Wow. Not sure where you are getting your information, but your historical perspective is certainly weird. Was the Biscuit or B&B “over harvested?” What does that even mean? Certainly on federal lands (which many of the rural communities have depended on), cut has never even equaled growth, much less exceeded it. Bugs and wildfires, though . . .

          Chemical poisoning?!? I used to be a licensed herbicide applicator. My pregnant wife was tested for 2,4,5-t exposure and my crews were systematically tested for exposure to herbicides we were using. 35 years ago. By comparison, rural communities have no measurable exposure. No one was “poisoned,” or even close. What science fiction books have you been reading? This is just absurd nonsense. Repeating dumb things over and over doesn’t make them true, no matter how often or loudly it is repeated.

          Exporting logs also creates jobs. Lots of them. Just like wheat, cars, and computer parts. So much for your economic insights.

          When you base a conclusion (“screwed over”) on fallacious information, you come up with wrong conclusions. Every time. Including this time.

    • As do BMP’s, on Federal ground. Back in 1997, I was tasked with doing BMP reports (to send to one of the local water entities in western Nevada) on lands with recent management projects. I don’t think my boss was too happy with my truthful criticisms of our sale administration activities. It wasn’t my first incident, either! Some people just can’t handle “transparency”. Of course, an 80,000 acre wildfire and subsequent flooding does tend to amplify water quality issues (and mistakes!)

      • Larry: I think a really big problem is that the 80,000-acre wildfires tend to hide management mistakes — not amplify them — for most people. In the early 90s a lot of time and money was being spent in western Oregon piddling around in our creeks and small rivers, throwing giant chunks of wood in the water and hand pulling weeds with “volunteers.” When I (and others) wrote and spoke about the giant amount of misdirections taking place “for the fish” we were either ignored, laughed at, or vilified. When two major floods took place in 1996 washing most of this stuff out to sea (as predicted), it was termed an “anomaly” and people went back to doing the same stuff all over again. No lessons learned, and the goofy pre-1996 projects had been washed away, and little evidence remained of all the wasted time and money. Active efforts by myself and others to at least document and monitor these projects were rebuffed and not funded. The exact same process is taking place with wildfires. How to fix this nonsense? I think Botkin’s book addresses these issues, but I don’t know if it is going to have an effect. If people aren’t going to learn from their mistakes, and either ignore them or rationalize them, how do we keep from repeating them?


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