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Logging is back on BLM lands

Gerald Brazille pulls logs with a skidder on a timber sale on U.S. Bureau of Land Management forests near Topsy Reservoir Wednesday. Possible changes in a BLM plan could lead to more logging on land once earmarked for northern spotted owl reserves.

September 12, 2005


Saws may again be buzzing on federal land set aside for northern spotted owls.

As the result of an early August settlement of a lawsuit brought by timber interests, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management is preparing to revise its land use plans for western Oregon where the owls live. Because the spotted owl perches in pines on BLM land managed by the Klamath Falls office, it too will revamp its plan.

"There potentially could be a big shift back," said Don Hoffheins, environmental coordinator in the Klamath Falls office.

Back to logging.

Before the current plan, crafted under President Clinton's Northwest Forest Plan, went into effect in 1995, 1.2 billion board-feet of timber was taken from the forests.

"It basically shut down logging completely in the 1990s," said Jon Raby, manager of the BLM's Klamath Falls office.

In those same woods, 211 million board-feet were taken last year.

While logging won't return to those numbers, there could be more logging on land now marked off-limits because of the spotted owl, Raby said.

Revision of the plan should be done by spring 2008, with the public getting to browse through a draft in 2007. Along with the Klamath Falls office, plans for resources around Salem, Eugene, Roseburg and Coos Bay will be revised.

The plans will affect 2.5 million acres of federal land in Oregon, 215,000 acres of which are managed out of the Klamath Falls office. In all, the revision will cost $8 million for all the districts, Raby said.

The BLM will host an open house about the potential changes in the plan on Oct. 15 at the Shilo Inn. There will be two sessions, from noon to 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The current plan was finished in 1996, when concern about the northern spotted owl trumped interests in logging. Special reserves, where logging is prohibited and spotted owls are protected, were set up in the plan.

Near Klamath Falls, those reserves are on federal land that had been earmarked for timber production. Such conflicts in missions for the land is what caused the American Resource Council to bring in the 1990s lawsuit.

In settling the lawsuit, the BLM said it will revise its plans and possibly open up some of the reserves for logging again. The BLM had expected the plan to last longer than the decade that it did.

"Originally, this was envisioned to be a 100-year plan," Raby said.

From now on, the plans will probably be revised every 10 to 15 years, he said.




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