Monday, February 22, 2010

HCPC Takes a Stand in Opposition to Senator Wyden’s Eastside Forest Bill

After some serious consideration, HCPC has decided to come out in opposition to Senator Wyden’s Oregon Eastside Forest Restoration, Old Growth Protection, and Jobs Act of 2009. We sent a letter to the Senator last week detailing our concerns with the bill. Upon first hearing about the bill, we felt excited at the potential. But after analyzing the language, it was clear that our concerns outweighed the positives.

The intent of this bill is primarily to “To restore forest landscapes, protect old growth forests, and manage national forests in the eastside forests of the State of Oregon.” It has been held out as a science-based old growth protection and restoration bill.

When we read the bill, we found some disturbing aspects:
• It would unnecessarily use time and resources to convene a new scientist advisory panel, instead of adopting the findings of a 1994 scientist advisory panel convened for the exact same purpose;
• It does propose some protections for big old trees, but does not protect intact old growth stands or ancient forests;
• It proposes an “Interim Period” of more intensive logging on the eastside, with mandated acreage targets and no firm end date;
• During this Interim Period, the public’s rights to provide input on projects would be limited;
• Even though it would create a scientist advisory panel to create recommendations for managing our eastside forests, it does not require the Forest Service to actually follow these recommendations; and
• It would allow continued road building, even though roads are perhaps the single biggest threat to our eastside forests.

The shame of it is that there are good concepts underlying this bill—but those concepts weren’t captured in the language of the bill. We fully support Senator Wyden’s goal of protecting the eastside’s old growth, restoring our eastside forests, and creating jobs in local communities. This bill, however, doesn’t meet those goals in a way that HCPC can endorse.

You can read our entire letter to Senator Wyden here.

Greg Dyson, Executive Director
Mature Ponderose Pine marked to be cut in a recent timber sale on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.

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