Launch campaign to protect O&C lands
Last night under the cover of darkness a stealthy and vigilant crew of Cascadian Forest Defenders converted a billboard on the side of I-5 in Eugene to read “O & C TRUSTS: Making yesterdays ecocidal mistakes… again!” This billboard was repurposed in the name of Forest Defense in order to spread the word about the growing threat to 2.6 million acres of forest land in Western Oregon.
The Oregon and California Railroad Lands traverse 18 western counties in Oregon. The lands have been managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) since 1937, when an act of Congress took them away from a corrupt railroad company. Half the revenues from logging on these lands go to the general funds of these counties, which are struggling financially to maintain services. Congressmen Defazio, Walden, and Schrader are sponsoring a bill that would give 1.6 million acres of federally managed forests to the state of Oregon to be managed by a trust of private timber campaigns. The remaining million acres would be managed by the Forest Service. 350,000 acres of trees between 80 and 125 years old would be in the 1.6 million acres managed for maximum sustainable yield by the Timber Trust according to a recent draft. These acres would no longer be protected by the federal laws that allow for public comment and action when a sale is proposed. Camilla Mortensen of the Eugene Weekly reports: “Currently, if a conservation group has reservations about a federal timber sale or a clear cut, it can appeal the sale and take the matter to court. Under DeFazio’s plan, that option for saving these public forests would be gone. ‘They can litigate the legislation,’ DeFazio says, but there would no longer be a federal process for each timber sale.” The plan calls for reduced riparian zones and massively increased logging. The plan also sets aside a million acres for conservation to be managed by the Forest Service, that agency currently involved in Old Growth and late successional stand timber sales on both sides of the Cascades.
Cascadia Forest Defenders believe that the only thing worse than a forest managed by the federal government is a forest managed by a timber company. We want the O&C Lands preserved in perpetuity and will oppose attempts to privatize the commons. We demand that Defazio, Walden and Schrader drop their proposals and instead work to preserve what remains of native forests.