Wild Fish Need You to Comment on Huge BLM Timber Harvest Proposal in the Yamhill River Watershed

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From: Native Fish Society

Please join Yamhill River Steward, Andrew Chione, and Native Fish Society in participating in the public comment period for an Environmental Assessment released by the Marys Peak Office of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). If finalized in its current form, the BLM proposal would log 651 acres of forest in the Mill Creek Watershed. Mill Creek is a tributary of the Yamhill River that supports threatened Upper Willamette River steelhead, coastal cutthroat trout, coho salmon, and Pacific lamprey.

The BLM’s proposed method of logging is regeneration harvest, which would only retain about 7-17% of the trees in clumps. Another alternative considered is commercial thinning, which would be vastly preferable and would allow the remaining trees to grow larger and continue to provide habitat for the marbled murrelet, red tree vole, and spotted owl. The area is part of the O&C lands that are federally mandated to provide timber harvest. The amount of timber produced by thinning would still produce the amount that the BLM needs to meet its legal requirements. Still, the BLM is proposing to clear almost all of the acreage through “regeneration” harvest, including logging around an Area of Critical Environmental Concern designated by the BLM for its plant and animal diversity. Additionally, the logging will occur inside the Gooseneck Recreation Area and a stone’s throw away from the Mill Creek Recreation Area.

As a comparison to the size of the project, the state of Oregon limits the size of clearcuts on private and state lands to 120 acres. The federal government removing 80-90% of the trees on 651 acres of public land is not something that should be ignored. A recent study by researchers at Oregon State University identified reduced logging on public land in Oregon as a way to significantly increase carbon storage and mitigate climate change.

Last year, Mill Creek was utilized by native salmonids as a thermal refuge after a dry winter and hot summer left many streams in western Oregon dangerously low and warm. Clearcutting in Oregon and the resulting timber plantations have been found to reduce streamflow by 50%. Is this what we really want to happen on federal land when Willamette steelhead are hanging on by a thread? Effects to Willamette steelhead were not considered in detail in the Environmental Assessment, which assumes that there are few to no steelhead in the area due to their low population numbers. This is contrary to Andrew’s own observations while snorkeling in the watershed.

To learn even more, you can read Andrew’s comprehensive comments submitted to the BLM.

Please make your voice heard to support Willamette steelhead and the sustainable management of public land for the benefit of all.

The deadline is March 4th so act quickly! Click here to sign the petition.

Sincerely,

Andrew Chione
NFS Yamhill River Steward

Jennifer Fairbrother
Campaign & Columbia Regional Director

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