Goodbye WOPR! BLM scraps plan that would have clearcut fish protections

According to a press release today from the U.S. Department of the Interior, the BLM has withdrawn its legally flawed plan for Western Oregon, the WOPR!

“We have carefully reviewed the lawsuits filed against the WOPR and it is clear that as a result of the previous Administration’s late actions, the plan cannot stand up in court and, if defended, could lead to years of fruitless litigation and inaction,” Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said today. “Now, at a time when western Oregon communities are already struggling, we face the fallout of the previous Administration’s skirting of the law and efforts to taint scientific outcomes. It is important that we act swiftly to restore certainty to timber harvests on BLM lands and to protect vital timber infrastructure in these tough economic times.”

Our Trout Unlimited chapter has been fighting this departure from the Northwest Forest Plan since it’s inception. While not perfect, the Northwest Forest Plan has had remarkable success in at least one regard: improving riparian conditions. It is no secret that salmon, trout and steelhead need cold clean water with complex habitat in order to thrive. The Aquatic Conservation Strategy implemented by the Northwest Forest Plan is a cornerstone of Oregon’s salmon recovery efforts and has been successful. Scientists have documented improvement in riparian conditions in over 64% of the streams sampled since implementation of the Aquatic Conservation Strategy. The new plan would eliminate this proven management tool on BLM land.

The BLM planned to reduce existing Northwest Forest Plan riparian buffer widths by 50% on fish bearing waters as well as on intermittent streams. This would have resulted in over 130,000 acres of previously protected riparian forest being opened to logging. This was not just an academic issue — it put the waters we love to fish at risk:

Rivers Impacted by the Western Oregon Plan Revision (WOPR)

Thank you to everyone who helped fight this proposal.

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6 Responses to Goodbye WOPR! BLM scraps plan that would have clearcut fish protections

  1. Karl Mueller says:

    You beat me to it! I was just about to publish a post on this–glad I checked.

  2. Matt Stansberry says:

    You basically did write it. Half the paragraphs are yours.

  3. Rob R says:

    My most sincere thanks to both of you and TU for your courage and efforts. Great news, and a breath of fresh air!!

  4. Terrence says:

    The same extremists that fought for the reversal of the WOPR (you know, the californians who were arrested protesting the logging operation in Reedsport) are the same extremists that oppose fishing as “cruel”. When the movement is in full force to ban fishing, who will stand with you brother!

  5. Matt Stansberry says:

    Terrence, thanks for the note. I appreciate your point of view. But my thought is that we’re more likely to destroy our wild fish runs long before anybody bans fishing.

  6. Karl Mueller says:

    Terrance, the fact that a few protesters got arrested in Reedsport is completely irrelevant to this discussion. First of all many, many groups joined forces to defeat the WOPR including fish conservation groups not just a few extremist Californians . . . so they are not “the same people.” The same people argument is used so often and is so easily refuted.

    Secondly, the extremists are the ones who want the last remaining vestiges of old growth timber especially when you get down to it western Oregon is one big logged out tree farm and there are second and third growth plantations to log ota.

    Third, fishing is a huge part of the culture of this state and the country. One million Oregonians hold fishing licenses and yet you fret over 20 protesters n Reedsport who want to ban fishing? Any move to ban fishing would be widely opposed by the one million or so license holding Oregonians as well as national fishing and hunting groups and the general public. I’d be willing to wager that any such move would be immediately countered by a ballot initiative/constitutional amendment ensuring the right to fish, which would pass . . . In fact, there is some whispering about proactively passing such an amendment.

    Let’s worry about actual threats to our fisheries which are many but don’t include a ban on fishing.

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