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Conservation groups oppose timber sale

Proposed cut on Umpqua National Forest abuts Crater Lake National Park

by LEE JUILLERAT, Herald and News 1/8/13

Two conservation groups are challenging the proposed D-Bug logging sale on Umpqua National Forest lands near Crater Lake National Park.

Oregon Wild and Cascadia Wildlands filed a notice of intent in late December challenging the D-Bug timber sale old-growth logging sale. The Umpqua is offering the sale as part of a proposal to log forests bordering the park and Lemolo and Diamond lakes.

Steve Pedry, conservation director for Oregon Wild, said the groups are concerned the U.S. Forest Service is violating laws designed to protect rare and vulnerable wildlife, including spotted owls. He also expressed concern because the sales abut Crater Lake National Park.

“This is the backyard of Crater Lake,” he said. “If there’s any place the Forest Service should proceed with caution, it’s there.”

According to Forest Service timber sale documents, the D-Bug proposes to manage bark beetle outbreaks and reduce hazardous fuels in areas of high human use around Diamond and Lemolo lakes on the Diamond Lake Ranger District. The location includes the area south of Lemolo Lake south to the boundary with Crater Lake National Park.

Based on Umpqua documents, the high volume of dead trees, combined with years of fire suppression, has increased the risk of wildfire in an area that receives about 700,000 visitors a year. The area contains numerous recreational facilities including two resorts with lodges, an RV park, more than 500 campsites, and 100 recreational residences. Highways 230 and 138, which provide access to Crater Lake National Park, go through the project area.

As currently proposed, the D-Bug project includes about 6,000 acres of hazard tree removal and commercial and non-commercial fuels reduction treatments. The treatments are designed to decrease the wildfire hazard to protect life and property, improve access for firefighting personnel in the event of a wildfire and provide critical evacuation routes for residents and forest visitors.

Announced in 2009

Pedery said the timber sale generated controversy when it was announced in 2009. He said the original proposal included more commercial logging and road building in roadless areas than had occurred across the entire country during the Bush administration.

He said conservationists, recreation groups, local businesses and homeowners created alternatives that addressed needs for public safety near homes and in popular recreation areas while avoiding unnecessary logging and development. After receiving public comments , the Forest Service dropped “many, many objectionable pieces” of the sale.

Pedery said the groups do not oppose all logging, especially projects that minimize fire concerns, but they believe the proposed sale unnecessarily includes old growth forests.

“The wildlands surrounding Crater Lake National Park are some of the most visited in the state,” Pedery said. “Visitors flock to the area to camp, fish, hike and ski the area’s pristine backcountry, providing a boost to local economies.

“Unfortunately,” he said, “these areas have also been some of the most heavily logged of the Umpqua National Forest, and the area’s remaining wildlands are home to several species of rare fish, wildlife and plants. Much of the project area has been proposed for protection as wilderness to maintain critical corridors for wildlife and allow the continuation of traditional quiet recreation.”




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