North Umpqua Ranger District (NURD)

The North Umpqua Ranger District (NURD) is the westernmost district of the Umpqua National Forest, thus the district closest to a large population center - Roseburg, and therefore one of the heaviest used areas for local recreation. NURD has a variety of land designations. The Little River AMA is located in the southern part of the district. NURD also has a Late Successional Reserve (areas set aside to provide homes for wildlife) which is threatened with a huge mine.




The Felix Timber Sale
Above the Cougar Bluffs Roadless Area


Update 01/02:
Judge Hogan's decision to delist all endangered fish was overturned by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on 12/14/01.

Update 10/01: In a surprise turn of events Judge Hogan has delisted all endangered fish in the Umpqua Basin. This technicality could allow the UNF to move ahead with the Felix timber sale. It may be in eminent danger of being cut soon.

Update 05/01:
This sale has been held up by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling.

Update 10/99: In the past two months, two different federal district court judges have found Felix to be an illegal sale. Judge Dwyer ruled that the Forest Service failed to survey for rare plants and wildlife, and Judge Rothstein ruled that the Forest Service did not do enough to protect endangered fish. The future of Felix is unknown at this time.




Originally written in 01/98:

Felix Unit 4 and Little River DEMO Unit 4

Units 4 of both Felix (foreground) and
Little River DEMO (background)

The Umpqua National Forest, North Umpqua Ranger District, decided to sell off 1,560 logging trucks of a forest that adjoins the Cougar Bluffs Roadless Area. The Felix timber sale does everything wrong - clearcuts important wildlife corridors, degrades unique habitats, and clearcuts right next to a roadless area, leaving no buffer. Altogether, 330 acres of old-growth will be logged.

All quotes below are from the government's Environmental Analysis.

Biodiversity:

Just a few of the unique species in the area:

  • 'Giant-spored tree moss': "The only known sites on the North Umpqua Ranger District occurs within the Felix project area."
  • 'Pendulous Wing Moss' is found in Unit 7: "the only site that been documented on the North Umpqua Ranger District.".
  • 'Candystick' requires a link with a mycorrhyzal fungi and a host tree to survive, and will not tolerate soil compaction. Plants were found in 7 of the 12 logging units. This is all except 2 of the known sites within the entire watershed. The impact using tractor logging is "fraught with unknowns". (Well, couldn't they guess?)
  • on the other hand...

"Each new unit" in the Felix timber sale "will provide occupiable new habitat for aggressive non-native and Noxious species."

It isn't nice to hammer Mother Nature!
Nor advisable.

The aerial below is from 1994. Since then much more damage has been done. Red outlines are 4 of the 5 Little River DEMO units that could be cut as early as February 2002. The green outlines are the Felix timber sale units that could be cut as early as December 2001. Within the blue outlines are the Cougar Bluffs inventoried Roadless Area. Felix will cut into the edge of this RARE II Roadless Area (but not into the "official" RARE II boundary.) Both Little River DEMO and Felix sales are replacement volume for Roseburg Forest Products.




An interesting observation from the Botanical Report:

"The Felix project area was not systematically surveyed for non-vascular species. This is unfortunate because the area has potential to be quite diverse and rich in unusual species. The three Survey and Manage mosses found are a good example of this. They were identified during the few hours when a knowledgeable bryologist was on-site. An unusual lichen species, Pilophorus clavatus , was located on the edge of Unit 6. Because of a personal fascination with the genus on the part of the District botanist, it has been the subject of searching across the District for the last 4 years. This is the first site to be located."

Unique Habitats:

The Felix timber sale map shows 15 'unique habitats' within the sale area. Six of these habitats are adjacent to, or within sale units. Unique Habitats are natural forest openings.

"Natural openings are rare in the Western Cascade ecotypes and provide a unique habitat for many species.... These unique habitats, while accounting for a small number of acres within a watershed, are used by a large percentage of the local wildlife for primary breeding and feeding purposes. Timber harvest adjacent to or within unique habitats has the potential to degrade the quality of this habitat. Several proposed units of the Felix Timber Sale either border or encompass permanent openings..."

The Forest Service will "mitigate" by leaving only 150' buffer strips for unique habitats. However, the EA says: "Blowdown events can be triggered when large openings, such as clearcuts and road corridors are created in the forest. Further canopy reductions (such as in the 15% and 40% retention prescriptions) may result in blowdown occurring in the future."

"The high elevation in this area combined with an abundance of unique habitat results in an unusual species richness for vascular plants. A number of notable species were discovered during field reconnaissance.... This concentration of non-chlorophytic members of the rhododendron family is unusual.... For many species the proposed harvest activities will reduce the habitat connectivity in the area... reducing the ability of some old-growth dependent species to repopulate the area...

Recolonization for all these species can be expected to be slow.... The overall impact to species diversity and species richness is expected to be negative."

and again, we read...

"The Felix Timber Sale would create habitat for noxious weeds and serve to spread the species."

Logging without Looking:

The Forest Service has not yet found the time to do a watershed analysis, and "As such, existing late seral stands in the basin have not been evaluated at the watershed scale to determine the values and functions they provide." Not even knowing the extent of the damage or species lost, the Forest Service proposes to sell this forest.

Important wildlife corridors:

The EA says:

"For many species the proposed harvest activities will reduce the habitat connectivity in the area. Upland old-growth corridors will be mostly eliminated. This will reduce the ability of all old-growth dependent species to repopulate the area. Those with limited ability to disperse, such as lichens and bryophytes, will be most affected. Late seral species and non-chlorophytic species depending on mycorrhizal connections will also be strongly impacted. Re-colonization for all these species can be expected to occur when 'old-growth' conditions are re-established; a situation that could take more than a century."

"Nearly all the landbase outside the proposed harvest units has already been impacted by soil disturbing activities, canopy removal and reforestation efforts... Connectivity of old growth environments is provided by the stands identified for harvest with this project."

"Alteration of these 'corridor stands' will lessen their usefulness to some species and result in no use at all by others."

Yet, in spite of these reports, the government determined that timber extraction is more important: "Given the management direction and broader land allocations of the Northwest Forest Plan, the value of this single corridor across Panther Ridge is diminished."