Umpqua National Forest
Little River DEMO
Timber Sale!

ROSEBURG, OR. The Umpqua National Forest Supervisor Jim Caplan announced that he is halting plans to harvest the Little River DEMO Timber Sale. Caplan said, I want to thank Roseburg Forest Products for cooperating with us in making this change. The Little River DEMO Timber Sale was once a good idea but, today, it simply will not meet the scientific intentions we originally had for it. For legal and resource-protection reasons, to proceed now would be irresponsible.

The timber sale was designed to meet two purposes: implement part of a regional research effort called Demonstration of Ecosystem Management Options (DEMO) and provide alternative timber volume for 1990s timber sales cancelled on the Siuslaw National Forest because of marbled murrelets.

awesome old growth trees
These irreplaceable ancient trees have been
saved thanks to You!

Caplan said, At Little River DEMO, we intended to use timber production to support scientific inquiry. Some really fine inventory work was done to establish an understanding of the natural resources on the site. But, over time, the science portion of the work has become irrelevant and, if we wanted to offer timber from that site, we would have to start our decision-making process over. Its time for us to move on to new projects.

Little River DEMO Timber Sale is within the Little River drainage on the North Umpqua Ranger District. The sale is within Adaptive Management Area, which was designated by the 1994 Northwest Forest Plan as available for commercial timber harvest when done in conjunction with developing and testing resource management strategies. The Little River DEMO sale was planned as the seventh replication in the study that includes data gathered from 1995 to 1998 at six other sites. Over the past few years, inventories at the site showed the presence of rare fungal species and red tree voles, species meriting protective measures under the Northwest Forest Plan.

Caplan added that resolution with Roseburg Forest Products for the sale has yet to be determined. The sale involved 7.1 million board feet of timber.

Umpqua Watersheds thanks each and every person who over the years worked to save the wonderful Forest in the Willow Flats area in the Little River watershed! Now these huge old growth forests, cool streams and a diverse array of wildlife can breathe easier...

Your letters, phone calls and financial support have clearly been effective in bringing about this historic change!

Little River DEMO will clearcut about 60 acres of old-growth forests and partially cut another 100 acres, removing up to 8 mmbf of big, old trees (1,600 log truck loads) to study the effects of logging old-growth. Most of the overstory is over 300 years old, with some trees exceeding 520 years in age.

Don Ostby, the former Umpqua National Forest Supervisor, justified this 160-acre old-growth sale by saying: "I believe the trade-offs associated with the old-growth harvest are justified given that old-growth harvest is expected under the Northwest Forest Plan and the fact that this sale provides an opportunity to study the effects of such harvest.... The Northwest Forest Plan directs land management agencies to continue old-growth harvest in substantial tracts of land... The value of these old forests to society and ecosystems is extremely high, yet little is know about the effects of partial harvesting old-growth....the findings will potentially affect the future management of old-growth forests. headwall tree will be cut

In addition to selling our old-growth, Don Ostby said: "some streams and wet meadows would not be buffered with a completely unharvested area." This is in spite of the EIS finding that: "The steep headwall of a class III stream would be partially cut, increasing the risk of a failure from the headwall. The potential risk of a failure from this headwall is high.... The trees harvested along the headwall... are extremely important to the current and future stability of the headwall..." (FEIS page 84).

In May 1997, UNF biologists refused to recommend logging of Little River DEMO. They wrote: "Overall, this action will further degrade some aspects of the affected sub-watersheds and cumulatively add to the degraded conditions described for the Little River basin." But their superiors over-rode them and ordered it logged. Judge Rothstein stopped the project early in 1999 until just this month.

Roseburg Forest Products (RFP) was given Little River sale in 1997 for "replacement volume " for another sale they could not log because rare birds (Marbled Murrelets) were found. The Forest Service was suppose to replace that second-growth timber sale with "like kind and volume", but erred when they gave RFP old-growth instead. RFP has been waiting years to log their sale. The Forest Service should just give them some uncontroversial, unlitigated, unentangled second-growth to log instead so we can forget about logging old-growth in Little River to research what happens when you log old-growth forests over steep unstable headwalls to streams that feed coho and steelhead habitat downstream.

Article written by Francis Eatherington for 100 Valleys, Fall 2001.

Don't cut these trees!

Science says 'Cut these'?

September 2001 Update

Little River DEMO Timber Sale is rising from the dead. In 1998 we thought we had subdued it permanently. But no matter how many times we "win" old-growth forests back from the saws, they will continue to rise from the dead until our government permanently protects ancient forests. This September an appeals court ruled that Roseburg Forest Products can log Little River DEMO. It's research, and research is exempted from environmental protections.
The government claims it can't study the effects of logging old-growth on previously logged forests because it would be a "retroactive" study, with no pre-disturbance data collected. In the Little River study, "A very large number of mammals and amphibians (over 3000 in 1995 alone) are being purposely killed for research... These animals are being killed by drowning in pitfall traps..." (This information comes from a 5/96 anonymous letter from a horrified research participant.) Will all those deaths be in vain if we don't log Little River DEMO?

See a Map of Little River DEMO units next door to Felix timber sale units.

Read more about replacement volume.


Court Blocks Old Growth Timber Sale
to Protect Endangered Salmon

Decision on other sales expected in early summer. A federal district court in Seattle blocked the Little River Demo timber sale on the Umpqua National Forest timber sale late last week because it would log habitat for salmon listed under the Endangered Species Act and violate the rules established in the Northwest Forest Plan. The ruling came in a lawsuit brought by Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund on behalf of several fishing and environmental organizations including Umpqua Watersheds.

Glen Spain, the lead plaintiff of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, remarked on the decision, "The government did not even follow its own rules that offer these fish some chance of survival. The court's decision gives commercial fishermen some hope that we may yet see the wise stewardship that is essential to our livelihood."

The timber sale, called the Little River DEMO, is a so-called "research project" in the Umpqua National Forest that would log 160 acres in large blocks that run through river corridors. It violated the safeguards for fish habitat established in the Northwest Forest Plan, but the Forest Service sought to evade those rules by invoking an exemption for research projects. The court found that the exemption could not be stretched to apply to this sale.

Old giant The Forest Service also acknowledged that the Little River DEMO sale would degrade aquatic habitat conditions in the logged drainages. The Forest Service had ignored those impacts because this sale alone will not cause significant degradation across the entire 100,000 acre watershed. The court held that the Forest Service's own rules do not allow it to ignore an individual sale's degradation of fish habitat.

This sale is one of two dozen that were blocked by the same court last year because the Forest Service had not ensured that fish habitat would be protected. After the earlier decision, the agency generated more paper but made no changes to the Umpqua River basin sales, most of which involve extensive clear-cutting of old growth forest.

Penny Lind from Umpqua Watersheds stated, "I am pleased that this sale has been blocked. It's a serious step to improved management of public lands and protection of the areas biodiversity. The patches of old growth, that make up this sale, are in a heavily logged drainage. These trees are crucial biological ancestors vital to restoring old growth characteristics to those nearby harvested sites.

"This ruling may finally force the Forest Service to stop logging salmon habitat until the federal government lives up to its legal obligations and promises to protect threatened and endangered salmon," said Patti Goldman, the Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund attorney bringing the case.

Background (7/98)

Legends saved.

This timber sale is being punched through in the Little River AMA, with 5 units in Willow Flats and 1 near Hemlock Lake. It is the only old growth block in the DEMO study, as well as the only old-growth block left in the watershed. 8 million board feet will be harvested (1,600 truck loads). Willow Flats, (Little River Watershed) contains the biggest (some greater than 7 feet across), oldest trees of the DEMO project, and are about the only big trees left in sea of clearcuts. An alternative site of younger second growth forests was considered, Cavett Creek, but the Forest Service decided the old-growth in Willow Flats must be sacrificed for research. The Forest Service accepted public comments until May 27, 1997, but even though this date is passed, you can still speak your mind in an email to the current forest supervisor, Don Ostby.
The descriptive name, Willow Flats, only hints at the unique ecosystem found in this shallow bowl hanging between the peaks of Taft Mountain and Cougar Bluffs. It holds some of the oldest and largest trees still standing in Douglas County, as well as a network of streams and seeps feeding a nearly flat, high-altitude wetland. The bowl overflows to the west, forming Emile Creek, which plunges 4000 feet to Little River. A rare place indeed.

We believe DEMO research is not appropriate in Willow Flats. Willow Flats is extremely valuable in terms of board footage, but it is priceless when we look at what it represents. Its old growth fragments in a heavily-logged drainage are crucial biological reservoirs to provide a gene pool for restoring late-successional characteristics to nearby harvest units. The ancient forests and rich wetlands in Willow Flats provide a refuge for wildlife and support a biodiverse community not found elsewhere. Willow Flats guards the headwaters of Emile Creek and the upper Little River watershed. DEMO proposes to cut the heart out of it and leave any survivors exposed to the ravages of wind, erosion, and isolation.

DEMO is not scientifically valid. On the most fundamental level, we question the whole concept of DEMO in the Willow Flats area. We agree with the scientists, Jerry Franklin, in his remark that the place to practice new forestry is in the new forest. Willow Flats is not new forest but contains, in fact, one of the finest remaining stands of very old and very large old growth. Signs direct visitors to the President Taft Grove with its 9'10" diameter Douglas fir; proposed management of Units 52, 53, and 70 will irreparably destroy the integrity of this historic grove. These units contain our only intact fragment of contiguous interior forest in the Emile Creek drainage, priceless in its gene pool of late- successional species waiting to repopulate the surrounding harvest units we are directed to manage for enhancement of late-successional characteristics. The Willow Flats sites are so unusual that Wendell Wood, in his book, A Walking Guide to Oregon's Ancient Forests , lists the President Taft Grove as Walk #6, rating it as "'super' old growth forest: the biggest trees left in a Northwest drainage" and referring to the "massive, pillar-like groves". We asked the Federal agencies to review the results of the many experiments (past clearcuts) performed in old growth forests in the last decade, instead of DEMO. We think the data from the study of previously managed stands would yield the information DEMO seeks without sacrificing our already diminished old growth remnants.
Umpqua National Forest proposes to log these Ancient Forests with extreme impacts on endangered fish and is within the high-use recreation area of the North Umpqua Ranger District.