Tiller was the heaviest logged district in the Umpqua National Forest. In the 1980's, no sympathy existed for the tall ancient trees and their land mates. Timber production ruled. As a result, extremely detrimental timber sales were planned and sold. Later, some of these sales were deemed so detrimental to the continued survival of fish and other wildlife, they were reconsidered and modified. Then, the clearcut Logging Rider Bill came along and mandated that these sales be awarded and deforested under the original contract terms.
Honeytree, in the North Umpqua Ranger District, is in the same category as these sales. These are 318 sales that were sold and awarded in 1990, partially cut, but then suspended due to their extreme detrimental effects. They are all in option 9 designated Late Successional Reserves except for parts of Gage and Redlick. Dr. Mark Powell has written a report of these sales. NMFS completed a conference report on these sales and recommended specific measures to minimize adverse effects and potential jeopardy to the Umpqua cutthroat trout and coastal coho salmon. The logging rider from congress mandated that these safety measures not be fully impliminated. They were released for deforestation, on September 27, 1995 - except for Abes Wren. It was previously sold and awarded, but later suspended due to the fact that all units were within 1/2 mile of two nesting pairs of spotted owls.
Eventually, some of First, Last and Abes Wren were traded for less environmentally dangerous stands of trees, but only after weeks of public demonstrations. Sadly, Honeytree, Zanita, Gage, Redlick and Jack were roaded and clearcut in 1996, a heavy drain on the natural resources of Tiller.Sale Acres Acres Volume Uncut Owl Name Sold Uncut MMBF MMBF Drainage Take Abes Wren 144 137 5.0 4.6 Boulder yes Zanita 451 137 10.6 3.0 Dumont yes Gage 525 296 14.1 7.7 Jackson yes Redlick 333 257 5.7 4.0 Jackson yes Jack 192 166 6.8 6.5 Elk yes
In a July 1994 memo to the Forest Supervisor on the Umpqua National Forest the Regional Forester in Portland said with regard to the Jack, Red Lick, Gage and Zanita, "these sales do not reflect our ability to mange for sustainable ecosystems." The Regional Forester ordered that these sales be reviewed and modified and that an "aggressive and comprehensive watershed restoration plan" be developed. The sales were modified to address some of these concerns but the logging rider ordered the sales to be released close to the terms of their original offer, so we're forced back to the dark ages of "unsustainable ecosystems."
Jack: coho, winter steelhead, searun cutthroat, resident cutthroat. Concerns: harvest in riparian reserves along streams that are tributary to Elk Creek which has a remnant coho population and "very low habitat conditions," "severe water quality problems have been identified by the Oregon DEQ that effect [sic] instream and downstream beneficial uses."
Red Lick: spring Chinook, coho, winter steelhead, searun cutthroat, resident cutthroat, Umpqua chub. Concerns: harvest in riparian reserves. "High beneficial uses, both in the South Umpqua and Jackson Creek for Coho, Sea Run Cutthroat and Spring Chinook, including providing important habitat for stocks at risk and providing a refuge for Spring Chinook."
Gage: spring Chinook, coho, winter steelhead, searun cutthroat, resident cutthroat, Umpqua chub. Concerns: harvest in riparian reserves, sale would directly affect three major tributaries to Jackson Creek and add to the high percentage of existing harvest in the subwatersheds, cumulative effects concerns within Jackson Creek, high percentage of acres with ground based harvest methods that will compact the soils, heavy livestock use of the area.
Zanita: coho, winter steelhead, resident cutthroat. Concerns: harvest in riparian reserves, moderate to high rating for erosional processes, high sensitivity to peak flows. refuge habitat for coho is present in Straight and Dumont Creeks.
Abes Wren: owl, coho, cutthroat, winter steelhead, pacific lamprey. Concerns: harvest in Late Successional Reserves, shallow soils, steep slopes, nesting owl site.
Hogan ordered the release of these sales on 1/10/96. Judge Dwyer agreed on First and Last, but decided Cowboy, Nita, and S. Nita did not qualify to be cut under the rider. First and Last were released to be cut on March 8, 1996. Cutting continued for two weeks before trade volume was agreed to. All five sales are 318 sales that were sold and auctioned in 1990, but never awarded at that time due to their detrimental effect and a court finding that they violated 318. The assumption by those developing Option 9 was that these sales would never be harvested. They are all in a Late Successional Reserve and a Key Watershed.
Oregon Natural Resources Council
Umpqua Watersheds, Inc.
For Immediate Release, November 10, 1995
Roseburg - Destruction of ancient forest and prime fish habitat on the Umpqua National Forest is occurring today, despite a finding by the national Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) that the timber sales in question will jeopardize the existence of several salmon and fish species.
NFMS has determined that the Zanita, Jack, Redlick, Gage and Honeytree timber sales, as well as other section 318 sales on the Umpqua National Forest, will jeopardize the continued existence of the Umpqua searun cutthroat trout and Coastal coho salmon, if they are not modified to protect fish.
Umpqua searun cutthroat trout are proposed for listing as endangered, and Coastal coho salmon are proposed for listing as threatened, under the Endangered Species Act.
Court Ruling Cancels Fish Protection Modifications.
These sales were being modified or deferred to protect fish, but the timber salvage rider forced the sales to proceed with no safeguards to protect fish habitat. A federal district court recently ruled that the 318 sales, and other sold but unawarded sales, must be released without any modifications to protect fish.
The timber rider suspends all environmental laws so that increased logging can occur in ancient forests. The rider has allowed timber sales to proceed in green, healthy stands of ancient forests in the coast range and west cascades.
NMFS Memo Outlines Jeopardy to Fish.
An October 3, 1995 NMFS memo refers to the five Umpqua sales (Zanita, Jack, Redlick, Gage and Honeytree) and other Umpqua Basin 318 sales. In reference to these sales the memo states:
...The FS [Forest Service] submitted a Biological Assessment (BA) that concluded that four of the five timber sales were likely to jeopardize Umpqua River cutthroat trout... (the fifth sale, Honey tree, was determined to be "Likely to Adversely Affect").
...NMFS Assumes that if [Zanita, Jack, Redlick, Gage, Honeytree and] other 318 sales... are not modified to minimize or avoid adverse effects identified in the screening process, then jeopardy to proposed species is likely to result. (Oct. 3, 1995 NMFS memo at p.2).
"In one fell swoop, the fish in the Umpqua Basin are being pushed toward extinction", said Mark Hubbard, Conservation Director of the Oregon Natural Resources Council. "The NMFS memo clearly shows that these sales will destroy coho and cutthroat trout populations in the Umpqua basin."
"I am concerned about the commercial and sport fishermen," said Jim Ince of Umpqua Watersheds, Inc. "The ancient forests are important, but the loss of fisheries and the jobs that go with them is really upsetting."
Mark Hubbard, ONRC (503) 223-9001x211
Jim Ince, Umpqua Watersheds, (503) 837-3636
This sale was withdrawn in 1990 because of terrible environmental consequences, but the salvage rider mandated it's deforestation, and was released the week of March 25, 1996. Below is a memo that the Umpqua National Forest supervisor, Don Ostby, wrote. It talks of a possible trade. Because Abes Wren is in the same forest area as First/Last, with outraged citizens at the gates, trade talks were serious and completed on 5/16. D.R. Johnson sued for another horrendous sale under the Logging Rider (see Dead Middleman Sale) and now he is being granted this gift so horrendous that we need to trade the gift. The memo speaks of how terrible this sale is.
TO: Regional Forester
FROM: Don Ostby, Forest Supervisor, Umpqua National Forest
This memo summarizes Forest analysis and recommends action needed to accomplish release of the Abes Wren Timber Sale in compliance with the direction of the Rescission Act.
BACKGROUND REGARDING THE SALE: This 5.1 MMBF sale located on Tiller Ranger District was awarded to D.R. Johnson in February of 1990. The sale encompasses 144 acres to be harvested (113 acres clearcut, 17 acres shelterwood, and 14 acres of right-of-way). Roads were constructed in 1991 and Unit 28, a 13 acre clearcut, was partially logged (the unit has been felled). Two pairs of owls were subsequently found in the sale area during yearly surveys from 1991-1993. All sale harvest operations were suspended to protect the nesting owls.
The sale lies entirely in Late Successional Reserve 0222, as designated in the NW Forest Plan. Harvest units all impact suitable owl habitat. As currently configured, sale activities will impact one "known to be nesting" area [...] and portions of two owl pair's core areas (the required area for nesting, roosting, foraging, and juvenile rearing). The Rescission Act requires the release of the entire sale except Unit 32, which meets the "known to be nesting" definition.
Harvest units are located at the headwaters of Boulder Creek, which is identified as a key watershed in the NW Forest Plan. Soils are thin and slopes extremely steep. Boulder Creek provides spawning and rearing habitat for coho salmon, cutthroat trout, winter steelhead, and Pacific Lamprey. NMFS has indicated that removal of this sale could potentially jeopardize the continued existence of coho and cutthroat, even though it is unlikely that fish occur in stream courses immediately adjacent to the harvest units. Our observation is that existing degraded conditions in this watershed have resulted from a comparatively small amount of historic timber harvest and roading activity.
CURRENT SITUATION: Removal of this sale as currently proposed could have significant and lasting impacts. Additional clearcuts would be harvested in an already adversely impacted watershed. Owl habitat would be lost. Existing contiguous old growth acreage would be fragmented. These actions would have an adverse impact on this Late-Successional Reserve.
The Forest has initiated the process to release this sale in order to comply with the Rescission Act. On January 15, D.R. Johnson and I met to discuss the pending release of the sale; at my request, the purchaser has agreed not to seek to initiate any on-the-ground sale activities until at least March 15. This is to provide the Forest Service with additional time to explore measures that might reduce sale impacts. The purchaser has also indicated a strong willingness to work with the Forest in exploring substitute volume.
PREFERRED ALTERNATIVE: We have spent considerable time looking at actions to mitigate impacts of the sale in its current location. Although opportunity exists to reduce impacts, no matter what actions are taken there will be additional clearcut acreage, additional old growth fragmentation, and loss of suitable owl habitat. None of these actions reflect the intent and purpose of the NW Forest Plan.
The Forest proposes to replace all remaining contract volume in Abes Wren Timber Sale by silviculturally treating, through final removal, old existing shelterwood units located on Tiller Ranger District outside the existing sale area. Locations to be selected could be inside or outside of LSR, or both. We would select locations where the greatest silvicultural, habitat, and watershed benefits could be realized and resource impacts minimized. Additional rational for entering these old units includes:
These stands have already seen harvest activity; no additional fragmentation of old growth stands would result.
Impact to spotted owl habitat would be minimized.
Crown closure in these stands is already below 70% so impacts of overstory removal would not materially change existing watershed function in the South Umpqua Basin.
Many of these overstory units already have advanced reproduction 15-20' in height which assures rapid continuation of revegetation on the sites.
No new road construction would be required.
Harvest of these stands would allow the collection of KV funds, a portion of which could be directed toward restoration of watershed impacts within the sale area (presumably the sub-basin).
Since we could move quickly to implement this alternative, it would allow us to mitigate most of what is undesirable about the existing Abes Wren Sale without impacting FY96 PSQ targets.
Provides the greatest opportunity to meet the intent of the NW Forest Plan yet meet the expectations of the Rescission Act.
The Forest will need assistance to clarify under what legal authority this work could be accomplished within the time frames available. We believe there should be sufficient latitude within the existing framework of law governing our activities to take this action. If, however, it is found that such a rationale does not exist, then it is essential that legislative remedy be pursued quickly.
Tiller Ranger District has approximately 4780 acres of existing shelterwood which is more than adequate to meet not only the volume requirements for Abes Wren, but also a substantial part of the additional 30 MMBF that could potentially be needed should we reach a decision to replace volumes on Cowboy, Nita, S. Nita, First and Last Sales if they are released. These sales raise similar concerns to those presented by Abes Wren and in total, represent a serious impact to habitat and watershed conditions not considered in development of the NW Forest Plan. The Forest would need additional time and resources to do necessary modifications to replace this amount of volume, however.
Your immediate assistance and advice in implementing this proposal is appreciated.