See Updates on protests below
On 2/26/96, a 12.397 mmbf, 281 acre, 318 section (k) rider sale was awarded to Sun Studs, the Olalla Wildcat Timber Sale. We were previously unaware that this sale was a possible rider sale. This is a clear example of a LSR sale that would not have gone forth in any form except for the logging rider.
This sale involves 10 miles of new and reconstructed roads, over riparian reserves and unstable slopes. There are no stream buffers on the 15,280+ feet of streams. It heavily impacts owls, and also involves building a rock quarry within an intermittent stream. It is in Marbled Murrelet habitat, and no MM surveys have been done. They will take out almost 2,500 logging truck loads.
I talked with Allan Wood, Resource Area Manager for the South Douglas RA, about this sale. The award came about because of Judge Hogan's January 17 ruling that all 318 sales must be awarded, even if the apparent high bidder was not available.
Sun Studs was the high bidder back in 1990. Sun Studs then decided they didn't really want this timber, so the sale was 'returned back to the bureau'. Because of the heavy owl impacts, Roseburg BLM discarded this sale, but reconsidered it after Hogan's January 17th ruling. In unit 5 there is a known to be nesting owl, so unit 5 only was not awarded, but trade volume could happen.
The January 22, 1996 aquatic screens of this sale look bad. There are at least 15,280 feet of 1st and 2nd order streams within (not adjacent to) the units. The screen states "Field review of the sale areas indicate that the stream lengths listed above are underestimated by approximately 30 percent. Although it is suspected that some of these streams may be perennial and/or third order, most of the streams are ephemeral and intermittent in nature. There are no stream buffers on these streams.... Anadromous fish (coho salmon and sea-run cutthroat trout) are not expected to be present." (They don't know for sure).
The screening continues:
"There are ten new permanent roads totaling 3.63 miles planned for construction on this sale. Eight of these roads contain portions with grades greater than 10 percent. Five of these are on sideslopes greater than 30 percent. Roads will cross or enter riparian zones in units # 2, 4, 6, and 7."
Under Adverse Impacts, the screens say:
"Proposed road construction into units 4, 6, and 7 will cross unstable slopes. Cut-bank and/or road fill failures will be of a moderate to high probability. The sale contract calls for dry mulching of road cutbanks and fillslopes. This method has been ineffective on similar road systems.
The "area biologists" has this to say in the screens:
"A review of the forest stands in and the vicinity of the Olalla Wildcat sale was conducted January 16, 1996...." (Just on one day?)
"All units fall within 1.3 miles of some owl site. Specifically, units 4, 5, 6, 7 are within the 1.3 mile distance from [named owl] site....
"Other units fall within the provincial radii of ... [2 other] owl sites. Units 1, 2, and 3 would remove suitable owl habitat with the provincial radius of [another site]. Unit 2 falls with the provincial radius of [still another] owl site.
"Surveys for marbled murrelets... have not been conducted in the units or immediate vicinity of the units. All units are located in Zone 2, and less than 50 miles from the Oregon Coast. The units involved have suitable murrelet habitat.
"All units are located within Late Successional Reserve as designated in the 1995 Forest Plan..."
This is a huge rider surprise sale for us, and it is pretty ugly. Sun Studs gets this sale for $322/mbf, obviously much more lucrative for them now then when they gave it back in 1990. It is about 10 miles south of Highway 42 at the town of Tenmile, or about 30 miles SW of Roseburg.
Today I watched a beautiful sunset while sitting in one of the Roseburg BLM Olalla Wildcat 318 timber sale units.
It was horrible. Half the unit was cut and lying on the ground. It could have been cut today. I didn't even get there in time to take any 'before' pictures - to see it as it has been for hundreds of years.
I did get pictures though, of two red tail hawks flying in circles over the fallen trees. They went around and around and around so much that I used up too much film. I didn't get any pictures of the song birds I heard singing, though they were close by - right in the trees scheduled to be cut tomorrow. Were they really singing?
Laying on the ground was an incredibly diverse forest. Fat Douglas Firs mixed with many yellow bark Ponderosa Pines, and sinuous old Incense Cedars, with a few grand fir mixed in. The overstory had been three to four feet in diameter, and over two hundred years old.
I was in unit 3, and it borders a square mile of private industry land - totally clearcut. This had been an island. The surrounding clearcuts had no stream buffers, no leave trees, and very little regeneration. Big shelves of exposed rocks and bluffs were laid bare. I was sitting on top of a holocaust.
Other units of Olalla Wildcat are freshly marked, but as of yesterday, no cutting had begun. This sale was such a surprise and shock to us. We didn't even know it existed as a possible 318 sale covered under the clearcut logging rider, until a day after it was released on February 26, 1996 to Sun Studs. This was because no high bidder wanted it back in 1990, and the sale was soooo environmentally bad that it was forgotten about. That is until Hogan ruled on January 19, 1996, that even if there was no high bidder, BLM must find a way somehow to deforest all 318 sales.
Sun Studs, who nibbled at it in 1990 (and then declined it), gladly stepped forward to take it at today's bargain prices. After all, the new option 9 'Old Dillard' timber sale just sold two weeks ago, only one mile away from Olalla Wildcat, and it went for $545/mbf. Sun Studs gladly choose to clearcut Olalla Wildcat for $322/mbf.
A couple of weeks ago, Alan Wood, resource area manager for BLM S. Do. RA, told me not to worry. BLM was in negotiations with Sun Studs to mitigate any possible damages outlined by BLM's aquatic screens; damages like impacting four owl sites, over 15,000 feet of streams with no buffers, 10 miles of new and renovated roads over streams and over steep unstable mountain sides with "high probability of failure". For instance, he said, we will leave some "legacy trees".
I saw legacy trees all right - three of them, one filled with conks (rot indicators and useless to industry), and two deformed runts. Now, why would they choose to leave these trees? Is it so they can more easily reforest the clearcut with genetically inferior stock? Or is it so they can say they mitigated the damages? In any case, Alan Wood told me he would inform the public (me) of any contract modifications on this public sale of public timber on public land. He has sent me nothing! The public can only assume that no mitigation's have been made, and cutting has begun.
Olalla Wildcat will clearcut 12 million board feet from the Olalla watershed. People from the towns of Tenmile, Dillard, and Riddle will have 281 acres less of trees and wildlife on their close by public lands. Since no studies were done on the coho, cutthroat, or murlett habitat - no body knows what these residents are thinking.
And to make matter worse - today's clearcutting is just a drop on the slope of all the clearcuts happening right now in Douglas County. It is not the worst clearcut, it just happens to be the one I saw today.
Protest 4/15/96: It appears some Oregonians have become serious about saving our fish, and taking a stand. This sale is illegal under many environmental rules. Industry had to get sufficiency language from congress in order to slick it off. (Sufficiency language means that no laws will apply, except the new logging rider law to clearcut it). Industry had to get congress to ban all citizen appeals in the courts, because they cannot log legally. Since all citizens are prohibited from going to the legal system, there appears to be only one option left, protest in the logging road. Who else will speak for the fish and the owls and all the other wildlife they represent who have no other old growth to go to? They are starving, suffering, and dying, along with the soil which sustains all life. I don't know who was chained to barrels in the middle of the logging roads today, but I know they care about Oregon, and all future generations living in the Olalla Watershed.
The Dead Middleman timber sale on the South Umpqua River was not originally thought to be included in the salvage rider bill passed by congress in July. However, a recent court ruling determined that it is included, plus many more unawarded sales in Douglas County. Representatives of the local timber industry, including D.R. Johnson, went to Washington DC to pressure for the release of these additional non-318 sales (but within the period of 318).
Within days D.R. Johnson was awarded the Dead Middleman sale, on October 27, for $345 per mbf, according to Alan Wood, manager for the South Douglas RA of BLM. The Lean Louis timber sale is of similar species, in the same resource area, and was sold last month for $671 per mbf. According to Alan Wood, all Douglas Fir sales in the last few months have gone for around $600 per mbf.
Talk about a windfall for the timber industry! No wonder D.R. Johnson was in Washington DC three days before the award telling a house task force committee that the Clinton administration was rigging salvage timber sales with unnecessary environmental requirements that make the logging economically prohibitive. (N-R, 10-25).
The government agency that monitors fish stocks is the National Marine Fisheries Service. They say that in 1956, 950 cutthroat trout went over Winchester Dam. In 1994, only one cutthroat trout was counted. NMFS says about the Dead Middleman sale awarded to D.R. Johnson Timber, "Unit 1 contains a 700 foot-long segment of fish bearing stream that would receive only a 25 foot buffer. The total timber sale units have approximately 10,000 feet of unbuffered 1st and 2nd order streams... some are very likely fish-bearing streams... The fish-bearing streams contain resident cutthroat trout, which are included in the ESU proposed as 'threatened.' Additional impacts would occur in Unit 5, because yarding corridors would be needed through the buffer due to the unit's layout and design."
The sale was awarded to D.R. Johnson unmodified, as required by the salvage bill. The "salvage" bill mandates logging of these green healthy old-growth trees in Washington and Oregon.
NFMS also says, "The sale is located in the South Fork of the Umpqua River which is a severely degraded watershed in the Umpqua River basin due to elevated temperature regimes, high sediment loads, and excessive channel widening from past timber harvest and grazing activities.... The aggregate effects of this timber sale, when combined with the effects of other Forest Service and BLM "318" timber sales in the South Fork, would adversely affect the anadromous fish resources of the South Fork, particularly Umpqua cutthroat trout."
D.R. Johnson said to the house task force committee three days before his award: "In an effort to keep preservationists off their backs, they [Clinton administration] will go to any extreme to come up with a reason not to sell trees". (N-R, 10-25). The next day the court released the timber sales by denying a motion for a stay.
A News-Review article of 10-26, talking about these sales to be released said, "D.R. Johnson Timber Co. will be awarded nearly 15.8 mmbf of that timber in three sales totaling 334 acres." Dead Middleman is 7.154 mmbf on 197 acres. That's the windfall awarded D.R. Johnson for his diligent efforts in pressuring the government to ignore environmental regulations.
What about the "severely degraded watershed"? How much of our heritage is being lost that we can not pass on to our children? All these timber sales were originally withdrawn because of the extensive harm they would have caused our soil and rivers. The South Umpqua River is precious to our quality of life. We must acknowledge its degraded state and fight for its recovery. I don't understand how D.R. Johnson Timber Company can defile their own back yard, no matter how much corporate profit is at stake.
NMFS speaks about another Douglas County Timber Sale
In early October, Judge Hogan presided over the court case where the Timber Industry sued the Federal government for even more timber sales to be released under the salvage rider law. They wanted timber sales that were considered during the time frame of section 318 sales, but were not 318 sales themselves. Hogan ruled in favor of the industry, which brought about the release of the most damaging sales yet. You think the previous letter from NFMS was bad news for our future, wait till you read this one. One of the six Umpqua sales affected by this decision, was the Dead Middleman sale of 7 MMBF on the Roseburg BLM district.
NMFS says: "One sale, Dead Middleman, may affect the Umpqua River cutthroat trout ESU (proposed as "endangered"), and Oregon Coast coho salmon ESU (proposed as "threatened"). The sale is located in the South Fork of the Umpqua River which is a severely degraded watershed in the Umpqua River basin due to elevated temperature regimes, high sediment loads, and excessive channel widening from past timber harvest and grazing activities.
"No historical estimates for South Fork Umpqua River cutthroat trout are available; however, estimates for the North Fork Umpqua River (counts at Winchester Dam) were 950 adult searun cutthroat in 1946-1956. Reportedly, only 1 adult sea-run Umpqua Cutthroat trout made it over Winchester Dam in 1994-5.
"Stream buffers included in the timber sale layout for Dead Middleman are inadequate to protect fisheries and aquatic resources. Unit 1 contains a 700-foot-long segment of fish bearing (second order) stream that would receive only a 25 foot buffer. The seven total timber sale units also have approximately 10,000 feet of unbuffered first and second-order streams. Although many are intermittent, some are very likely fish-bearing streams during part of the year. The fish-bearing streams contain resident cutthroat trout, which are included in the ESU proposed as "threatened." additional impacts would occur in Unit 5, because yarding corridors would be needed through the buffer due to the unit's layout and design.
"The aggregate effects of this timber sale, when combined with the effects of other Forest Service and BLM "318" timber sales in the South Fork, would adversely affect the anadromous fish resources of the South Fork, particularly Umpqua Cutthroat trout."
Today we received the decision notice and the sale advertisement for the Old Dillard Timber Sale. Surprise - they decided to clear cut the whole thing. (The only action alternative).
UPDATE: This sale was sold in early March, 1996, to Roseburg Forest Products for $545/mbf. Compare this with Olalla Wildcat, only a mile away, which was 'given' to Sun Studs for $322/mbf.
Our concerns with this sale are detailed in the archived EA comments. Briefly: 15% of watershed is not in old growth of 220 years as defined by option 9, new roads are on very steep sidehills, and clearcutting south aspects is proven to have futile regeneration in this area. Our main concern was the effect of cumulative impacts on the South Umpqua River, which is, according to NMFS, in a "degraded condition" with few fish hanging on to life due to logging. DEQ also said on 12/29/95 that the South Umpqua is one of the 5 worst rivers in Oregon for water quality.
Our issues were ignored in the decision notice. However, we were told very clearly that the salvage law has been enacted, and this sale "shall not be subject to administrative review". Old Dillard is a green healthy new sale (not a 318, or period 318 sale).
Another interesting fact: The EA and ROD evaluated and released 4 mmbf of timber. The timber sale auction is for 4.85 mmbf of "merchantable" timber out of a total volume of 5.6 mmbf. 5.6 mmbf of old growth (1,120 logging truck loads) will be deforested off of 140 acres. The sale will be in plain view of highway 42, the main tourist road between Roseburg and the coast, and to our major tourist attraction, Wildlife Safari.