Wyden’s O&C Lands Bill Announced

No sign of the bill or a press release on Wyden’s site, yet, but The Oregonian has a link to the release. Excerpt:

Wyden’s legislation, called The Oregon and California Land Grant Act of 2013, amends the
original Oregon and California Lands Act passed in 1937. Compared to the last ten years it
would roughly double timber harvests on O&C lands for decades to come. At the same time, the
bill would permanently protect old growth trees, ensure habitat for sensitive species, and put in
place strong safeguards for drinking water and fisheries.

The legislation requires the Secretary of the Interior to provide a sustained yield of timber in
forestry emphasis areas, while taking the most controversial harvests off the table, ensuring that
old growth stands in moist forests currently over 120 years old and trees over 150 years old
across the O&C landscape cannot be harvested.

While keeping the O&C lands under the protection of federal environmental laws, the bill
proposes streamlining the environmental review of timber sales by:

· Improving timelines for environmental and judicial reviews;
· Eliminating the individual environmental impact statements for each timber sale and replacing
them with two large-scale environmental impact statements – one each for dry and moist forests
– covering 10 years of timber sales;
· Requiring better coordination between federal agencies during environmental reviews; and
· Requiring upfront studies of areas to prioritize treatments.

The bill would also permanently protect nearly a million acres of conservations areas that
would be managed for the benefit of old growth trees, native wildlife, recreation and tourism.
In the conservation areas, road building would be limited and mining prohibited. Timber
harvests would be limited to improving habitat and forest health.

Finally, the bill provides new ways to consolidate land ownership and reduce the
checkerboard of public and private lands across Western Oregon.

Senator Wyden will introduce companion legislation to this bill that will extend long term
funding to the counties which currently receive PILT, SRS, and similar payments, ensuring that
communities who produce energy, minerals and timber and other resources that benefit the entire
country are fairly compensated for the local impacts of that work. The federal government owes
these communities, and other resource producing communities too much to allow county
payments to end.


Excerpt from press release from The American Forest Resource Council, Associated Oregon Loggers, Douglas Timber Operators and Southern Oregon Timber Industries Association:

“At first glance, it appears that Senator Wyden’s proposal falls short of providing our communities the level of legal certainty, jobs, and county revenues they deserve and have been promised,” said Partin. “While it won’t be easy, we look forward to working with Senator Wyden and the entire Oregon delegation to find a comprehensive and permanent solution. Our communities absolutely need meaningful reforms to eliminate the broken policies that have resulted in endless paralysis and failed both Oregon and our federal forests for the past twenty years.”


24 thoughts on “Wyden’s O&C Lands Bill Announced”

  1. I can’t imagine this legislation going anywhere. It utilizes a broad stroke review process which has to leave a lot of questions unanswered and severely limits public involvement. It’s a “this is how it’s going to be proposal and if you take exception to it, tough luck buddy”.

    • It’s a “this is how it’s going to be proposal and if you take exception to it, tough luck buddy”.

      Yep, just like so many of the “collaboration” proposals coming out now days. Hey, if D’s (and the Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee no less) are proposing this type of stuff, what do you think the GOP will have in store in the coming years?

      • It doesn’t take much imagination to answer that question…which is exactly why WE can’t afford to let an ounce of public leverage slip through our fingers. The only way the people on this side of the fence have to protest is by the means of litigation and numeric strength. What little progress we make slows the monster in the woods. If our hands are tied, that monster will chip away at the hard fought progress and the results will haunt us for the rest of our lives.

      • It’s party time in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and as odious as it ever gets.

        They’re already peaking at the presents under the office (public’s) Xmas tree — legislating logging mandates on public lands in exchange for privatization of public lands using bipartisan collusion and quid pro quo tactics (such as Senator Lisa Murkowski’s Sealaska Legislation S.340 on the Tongass in exchange for Wyden’s O&C )
        “Win-Win-Win !” (and keep them campaign donations a-comin’!)


  2. Here’s Dominic DellaSala’s comments on the legislation posted at:

    Why our forests need fire, not salvage logging

    By By Dominick A. DellaSala
    November 24, 2013 2:00 AM
    For over two decades, I have studied forests from Oregon’s amazing coastal rainforests to the fire-adapted forests of the West. In dry forests, there are three issues that reoccur every fire season: (1) forests will burn regardless of what we do; (2) politicians will propose unchecked post-fire “salvage” logging, even in national parks, as a quick fix; and (3) scientists will continue to document the incredible regeneration that takes place after fires and how post-fire logging disrupts forest renewal.

    Recently, I submitted a letter to Sen. Ron Wyden and other members of Congress signed by 250 prominent scientists summarizing fire ecology studies from around the globe (www.geosinstitute.org). The letter was especially urgent as Wyden and other legislators are currently drafting legislation to increase logging on public lands in response to wildfires and, for economic reasons, on Bureau of Land Management lands in Western Oregon. In the letter, we compared four common fire myths with the evidence from around the globe.

    Myth 1 — Fire is catastrophic, and forests cannot recover by themselves.

    As a young forest ecologist, I witnessed firsthand how the media erroneously described the 1988 Yellowstone fires as “destructive.” The same misconceptions led to declaring Oregon’s 2002 Biscuit fire a “moonscape” in need of massive post-fire logging and tree planting. However, after decades of observations, we now know that both fires were ecologically beneficial. Following the fires, the increased plant growth provided forage for deer and elk, dead trees (snags) became habitat for woodpeckers, conifer seedlings released from intense heating of seed cones blanketed ash-covered soils, and there were increases in songbirds, butterflies and morel mushrooms even in the most severely burned areas. This fire-created web of life soon rivaled what we see in the much-celebrated old-growth forests. New forests with their abundant snags will eventually become old-growth, if we let them.

    Myth 2 — Post-fire landscapes will become brush fields unless salvage logged and planted with conifers.

    Post-fire logging actually slows down forest renewal. Conifer seedlings are crushed as logs are dragged uphill, heavy machinery compacts fragile soils, large snags that shade seedlings are removed for economic value, and invasive weeds are transported by logging machinery, requiring costly measures to remove them, if at all possible.

    Myth 3 — Salvage logging reduces fuel hazards and future fire risks.

    Most post-fire salvage actually increases fuel hazards. The small twigs and branches left by loggers provide kindling for the next fire while the big charred trees that are least likely to burn again are taken away. Fire risks are also much higher in densely packed tree farms planted over thousands of acres. Witness the shotgun blast pattern of replanted clearcuts the next time you fly over the Siskiyous; fires tend to burn hot and spread rapidly through them.

    Myth 4 — Salvage logging is needed to prevent global warming pollution released by burning vegetation.

    When a forest burns, it releases carbon dioxide to the air, a greenhouse gas pollutant when in excessive amounts. Surprisingly, forest fires release only about 5 percent to 15 percent of forests’ stored carbon to the atmosphere. This is because the charred trees, if left on-site, continue to retain carbon for decades to centuries, as they slowly decompose. New vegetation also comes in after fire, rapidly capturing and storing carbon while cleansing the air. In contrast, salvage logging emits much larger quantities of carbon dioxide, as logs are hauled over long distances, requiring fossil fuels in transit, and logging slash decomposes rapidly, releasing even more carbon dioxide.

    Simply put: Nature has given forests unique properties to rebound even after the most severe fires. Salvage logging takes away what plants and wildlife need most after fire — large dead and live trees — and pollutes waterways from sediment runoff along roads and from logging on steep slopes.

    Common ground begins with job-producing thinning of flammable tree plantations and removing flammable vegetation nearest homes. If we must salvage log for economic reasons, it should be limited to removing hazard trees along roads for safety reasons and small trees in areas that were scheduled for logging before a burn.

    As Senator Wyden is poised to introduce legislation, we hope that he takes notice of the diverse ecological and economic benefits that Oregon’s forests give to us in addition to their timber. Hillsides covered with old and new forests produce clean air, drinking water, salmon, abundant wildlife and a quality of life that is essential to attracting new businesses and the variety of jobs they are bringing to our region.

    Dominick A. DellaSala, Ph.D., chief scientist of Geos Institute, is author of the award-winning book, “Temperate and Boreal Rainforests of the World: Ecology and Conservation” (http://ipfieldnotes.org/author/dominickdellasala/) and has published dozens of scientific articles on fire ecology.

    • I hope this proposal goes no where. Its a disaster for the forest and the local communities around them.
      And the nation as well. Full of rhetoric that will result in the rich getting richer and everyone else, “who cares”. After years of talk how do we end up with a proposal like this. I guess everyone only listens to themselves, while pretending otherwise. This is basically the same proposal Wyden had year or two ago.
      Obviously DellaSala and I live on different planets and have never been to the same forest.
      Sometimes I think they single out salvage logging and old growth because it the one place where the small mill and small operator can still survive, and who wants to be bother by them.

    • To clarify, I think there are two pieces of legislation. One about salvage logging (nationally I think), and one about increased clearcutting, and halving the stream buffers, across 2 million acres of BLM land in Western Oregon, while setting aside environmental laws and limiting public involvement and judicial review.

  3. The whole of academic defense of fire always forgets to include the set fire regime of the thousands of years of Native American landscape maintenance by fire. The academics in the social sciences don’t have a say or sway in the determination of Federal forest policy. Too bad. DellaSala never provides for immediate introduction of set fire to bring back the diversity of forests missing their fire maintenance humans for almost two centuries. My forest experience is that meadows seen fifty years ago now no longer exist. Not because we suppress fire, but because we don’t set fires. I live in the mid Willamette Valley, and trips to Central Oregon or the coast were on Highway 20. The large meadow at Tombstone is gone, grown over by trees. There is little prairie on Prairie Mountain, almost no grass on Grass Mountain, and the meadow on Little Grass Mountain is but an acre at best. Even the meadow on top of Mary’s Peak is being overgrown by nobel fir natural reproduction. The south slope balds, once numerous, have been planted by the CCCs, and then by purposed reforestation efforts. Academics and research brought us paper mulching and tall seedlings to get above the critical heat layer on south slopes, enabling of growing trees on balds that once supported plants essential to aboriginal life, and the associated species that existed with those plants. Doing nothing post fire, is as bad as planting those acres was in the past. So if land managers can’t purpose re-burns, and perhaps prepare for them by removing fuels to ensure a much safer process, how does the diversity of the forest ever again be regained? I actually have experience with post fire recovery to gain pre fire diversity. The landowner I advised told me two weeks ago that, as planned, the grass we planted immediately after the fire is now about all gone, replaced by the native plant community whose seed was brought to the germ layer by deer and elk hooves, and pulse cattle grazing to disturb the grasses without using fire for which he cannot get a permit to use. All the logs salvaged paid for the replanting of some trees, and he says that in less than a decade, he is faced with a thinning to keep from having a full canopy sooner than he thought ever possible. And across the fence on USFS land, there are no new conifer seedlings, only thigh high brush. His land has bloomed and is a vigorous landscape visited daily by all the megafauna of the area, along with the predators. His meadow overgrown with willows was thinned of brush by the fire and he used the log loader grapple to pull dead willow, which allowed the creek to meander more, and now it is a spawning area for redband rainbows and protected by ODFW regulations. He lost a fifty year old forest, totally, to a USFS “back burn” that never got set until noon, at which time it just sucked the fire front into itself, and raced ten miles by dark. He now has the only green space for miles, and is content to watch the process of renewal. And is baffled by the state of the tens of thousands of USFS land that surrounds him, where the “burn victim was not mugged.” Left to die is what appears to have happened. There is place for man in burns, and in forests, if only because it was aboriginal man who determined the totality of species and species relationships with his set fire regime. The denial has to end.

    • Attaboy John.
      I prefer the term “induced fire.” Most historic fire is almost certainly seasonally induced by Indians at certain times of the year to produce forage and gather crops, as well as perimeter/transit security (ambush sites).
      But if you are going to have “good” fire of historic intensity (like that of induced historic fire), you need to set the stage beforehand by dealing with the existing fuel load. Dominick, however, is so vested in the “burn the village to deny it to the enemy” mindset, he will never honestly face history. And those who ignore history — if they are in a position of influence — force everyone else to repeat it.

  4. Wyden’s summary of the O&C Act of 2013 says:

    This bill will roughly double the harvest on O&C lands compared to the last 10 years. Right now, the average cut over the last 10 years on federal O&C lands has been 150 million board feet per year. In 2012, it was 167 million board feet. Under current policy that number will continue to go down. The BLM’s models confirm this legislation would boost harvests to a total of 300 to 350 million board feet per year for the next 20 years.

    The original O&C Act of 1937 mandated a sustainable yield of 500, MMBF/year, but current harvests are one-third of that and are decreasing. If the harvest mandated by the existing law wasn’t produced, how can there be any certainly that the harvest level set by the new law would be met?

  5. One feature of the law that could result in more certainly over harvest levels is that, according to Wyden, “the bill would provide for a streamlined approach to undertaking environmental analysis, providing for two large scale environmental impact statements – one each for moist and dry forests – that will study 10 years of work in the woods, rather than a single project, as is the case now.”

    A bit like a stewardship contract, but with “ecological forestry” a la Franklin and Johnson as the main silvicultural system. However, Oregon Wild the the Sierra Club aren’t buying it. From a press release issued today:

    “Oregon Wild has worked with Senator Wyden many times over the years to craft balanced environmental legislation,” said Oregon Wild Conservation Director Steve Pedery. “But we must strongly oppose this bill because it is so heavily weighted towards clearcut logging and weakening environmental safeguards.”

    “We cannot clearcut our way to prosperity,” said Rhett Lawrence, Conservation Director for the Sierra Club Oregon Chapter. “This bill will not solve the counties’ financial problems, but it will put Oregon’s clean water, wildlife, and salmon runs at risk.”

  6. The environmental community ought to be jumping up and down in support of this bill. Year of studies to do. More wilderness and set aside areas. Permanent no touch on old growth. Just slip back in a few “environmental safeguards” like being able to sue any project you don’t like and you can have what we have now with a lot more restrictions and a lot more of the public forests off limits to any tree harvesting with the intent of creating any kind of wood products.
    Beware of the monster in the woods, Oregon Wild,Sierra Club, Klamath Wildlands?

    • Yeah, why do we need to clearcut BLM lands, when private interests already control far more than half of the productive capacity of Oregon’s forest landscape, and those lands are aggressively managed for wood fiber, and demand for wood has been reduced by the correction in the mortgage/housing market. Maybe our public lands should be managed for public values like clean water, wildlife, carbon, recreation, instead of mud and 2x4s which we have plenty of.

  7. A big reason for this bill seems to be the often repeated, never verified notion that appeals and lawsuits prevent or tie up public lands logging.

    Does anyone have actual, factual statistics from all the National Forest’s in Oregon? How many timber sale appeals and lawsuits in the past year? How about the past 3 years? 5 years?

    Oh, anyone else notice that this week it was revealed that there are currently 18.5 million vacant homes in the USA? Yep, that return of the housing boom is just around the corner.

      • Sharon, if I wasn’t clear I’m asking for:

        Actual, factual statistics from all the National Forest’s in Oregon regarding how many timber sale appeals (or objections) and lawsuits have been filed in the past year compared with the total number of timber sales.

        I also would like to see the same actual, factual statistics for how many timber sales appeals and lawsuits were filed in Oregon over the past 3 years and 5 years.

        Likely this would require a FOIA to Reg 6, as the info is impossible to find on the USFS website.


          • I’m not interested in doing a joint FOIA. If I do a FOIA, I’ll just do it myself and share the results. However, isn’t the point that if so many people complain that “almost every Forest Service logging project faces appeals and lawsuits” we should be able to have simple to understand, easy to access information about the actual percentages? The very notion that such info isn’t available and perhaps is only available through a labor-intensive, expensive FOIA is total BS.

            • I think everyone would agree with your point. In fact that’s one thing (components of the People’s Database) that most of the folks on this blog can agree on.

  8. Matthew you should take into account that the Forest Service and BLM are acutely aware of the possiblility of being sued and try to do everything possible to avoid it.
    The question should be how many projects are never considered or severly modified because of fear of these suits.
    I think you would be surprised at some of the sales that are appealed. Its all in what the environmental groups feel like doing.


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