Author Archive

Feds eye more protection for northern spotted owls

Logging and post-fire salvage, along with competion from barred owls, still seen as key threats

Staff Report by Summit County Citizens Voice

FRISCO — Dinged by a double whammy of continued habitat loss and interspecies competition, the Pacific Northwest’s northern spotted owl may get even more protection under the Endangered Species Act.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this week said it will launch a review to decide if the spotted owl should be reclassified as endangered rather than threatened.

The population of the northern spotted owl is declining across most of the species’ range. The most recent data show a 2.9 percent range-wide population decline per year, although declines as high as 5.9 percent per year have been observed in some areas.

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Guest Opinion: This Earth Day, we celebrate the Northwest Forest Plan

By Dominick A. DellaSala and Jim Furnish for the Medford Mail Tribune Guest Opinion

One of us is a conservation scientist and the other is former deputy chief of the Forest Service and Siuslaw National Forest supervisor. What we share in common is a love for the great outdoors, our families, and having been intimately involved in the Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP), which in 1994, shifted management of 24 million acres of Forest Service and BLM lands from timber dominance to ecosystem management.

Back when we were launching our careers in the 1980s, majestic old-growth forests from redwoods to Olympic rainforests were being clearcut at about 2 square miles a week. Iconic salmon runs were crashing, bellwether species such as the spotted owl were circling the extinction drain, and the regional economy was on a collision course with nature.

Without the NWFP, older forests, outside of a few parks and wilderness areas, would have been liquidated this decade. Thanks to the NWFP, streams are recovering, deforestation has slowed dramatically on public lands, and the region’s forests are doing their part to stymie global warming by soaking up atmospheric carbon dioxide. In sum, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

Media Advisory on Northern Spotted Owl endangerment decision of Fish & Wildlife Service

Ashland, OR – The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has determined there is sufficient cause to trigger a 1-year review for up-listing the embattled northern spotted owl from threatened to endangered. Prompted by an up-listing petition filed by the Arcata, CA conservation group, EPIC, the decision by the Fish & Wildlife Service sets in motion a specific process placing response requirements and specific time constraints on the agency for reaching a determination.

Scientists Warn Climate Change is Threatening World’s Most Expansive Temperate Rainforests

For Immediate Release on February 26, 2015

Contact: Dominick A. DellaSala, Ph.D.; Cell: 541-621-7223

Ashland, Oregon – International climate change and rainforest experts warned that without drastic and immediate cuts to greenhouse gas emissions and new forest protections, the world’s most expansive stretch of temperate rainforests from Alaska to the coast redwoods will experience irreparable losses.  

Using global climate models, researchers assessed changes in temperature and precipitation from recent to future climatic conditions projected toward the end of the century if emissions from burning fossil fuels and deforestation continue to rise.

Scientists Ask President Obama to Save Tongass Rainforest

For immediate release on January 20, 2015

Contact: Dominick DellaSala, Chief Scientist and President; 541.482.4459 x302; 541.621.7223 (cell); dominick@geosinstitute.org

Ashland, Oregon- Seven of the nation’s top scientific societies have joined over 200 distinguished climate and natural resource scientists to urge the Obama Administration to speed up its transition out of old-growth logging on the Tongass National Forest in southeast Alaska.

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced in July 2013 that a transition out of old-growth logging and into logging second growth (forests originally logged in the 1950s that have since reforested) would commence over time. The Forest Service is amending the Tongass National Forest Land Management Plan, with a draft due this August. Unfortunately, the agency continues to support controversial old-growth sales at levels not seen since the early 1990s, despite independent analyses showing second growth will soon be available to replace old growth timber.

The scientific societies calling for an end to old-growth logging on the Tongass National Forest (the only national forest still clearcutting old growth) include the American Fisheries Society, American Ornithologists Union, American Society of Mammalogists, Ecological Society of America, Pacific Seabird Group, Society for Conservation Biology, and The Wildlife Society.

Guest Opinion: Who’s really to blame for 2014 wildfires?

By Dominick DellaSala, Chad Hanson and Dennis Odion in the Medford Mail Tribune
   
As scientists, we are alarmed by the hyperbole and misinformation contained in timber industry representative Jeremy Wuerfel’s Oct. 5 opinion piece about this year’s fire season. Fires burning across the West are in no way out of the ordinary. Even the severe ones are a natural part of mixed-conifer forests burning today the way they did historically in most places.

Increased Logging on Bureau of Land Management Lands in Western Oregon Would Rival Carbon Dioxide Pollution from Cars and Power Plants

For Immediate Release: September 10, 2014

Contacts: Dominick A. DellaSala, Ph.D., 541-482-4459 x302; 541-621-7223 (cell); Olga Krankina, Ph.D., 541-737-1780

Ashland, Oregon – A new analysis from Dr. Olga Krankina, a member of the Nobel-prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), demonstrates how increases in logging levels on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands in western Oregon proposed by Oregon Senator Ron Wyden (S. 2734) would lead to greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to expanding the Boardman coal-fired power plant in Oregon by 50%, or adding another half million cars to Oregon’s roads, or burning over 6.3 million barrels of oil annually.

Senator Wyden’s legislation covers over 2 million acres of western Oregon’s federal forestlands (often called the “O&C” lands) administered by BLM. If S.2734 is enacted into law, logging would increase by 75-140% above current levels. The O&C lands are currently managed under the region’s Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP), which was adopted in 1994. An indirect effect of the NWFP’s logging reductions has been a gradual accumulation of atmospheric carbon by the region’s forests. At present, two-thirds of BLM forestland in the Pacific Northwest are protected, older “high-biomass forests,” a term used by scientists to describe forests that sequester (absorb) and store massive amounts of atmospheric carbon.

Oped: Time for bold actions on the Tongass now, not in 10 years

by Dominick DellaSala for the Juneau Empire

Like many who care about Alaska’s economy and its world-class rainforests, I witnessed the recent news coverage on the Big Thorne timber sale as the latest boxing match over old growth logging. Each prizefighter staked out familiar ground — conservationists sued over old growth logging, industry claimed the sky was falling and the Undersecretary of Agriculture assumed the referee position (“My Turn” in the Juneau Empire, Aug. 25).

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Phase Out of Tongass Old-Growth Logging Can Begin Now If the Forest Service Acts Swiftly

For Immediate Release on August 25, 2014

Contacts: Catherine Mater, Mater Ltd. (541-753-7335); Dominick DellaSala, Ph.D., Geos Institute (541-482-4459 x 302, 541-621-7223); Nathaniel Lawrence, Natural Resources Defense Council  (360-534-9900); Jim Furnish, Retired Siuslaw National Forest Supervisor (240-271-1650)

A recently released study of second growth availability on the Tongass rainforest questions the assumptions made by the Forest Service that they need to log old-growth rainforests for ten or more years until second growth is ready. The Forest Service announced in May that it was transitioning timber sales from old growth to second growth but expected another 10 to 15 years of old growth logging that has proven controversial. This new study shows that transition can begin immediately and finish up in no more than 5 years, shifting logging to previously logged and roaded second growth areas outside of sensitive resource lands.

A 2014 study update commissioned by the Ashland-Oregon based Geos Institute and Natural Resources Defense Council used recent Forest Service timber data to conclusively show that the agency has immediate access to supplies of second growth similar to trees already being logged on private lands in southeast Alaska. A preliminary study conducted by Oregon-based Mater Ltd. released in 2013 used prior Forest Service and Tongass Futures Roundtable estimates to determine the number of second growth acres already pre-commercially thinned that could be harvested at 55-years of age to meet market demand. Recent research financed by The Nature Conservancy determined the desired log characteristics for a dedicated small log processing operation on Prince of Wales Island could be obtained from 55-year old hemlock and spruce stands. The 55-year harvest level, currently practiced by the southeast Alaska private timber industry, contrasts with the Forest Service’s practice of waiting until second growth is 90 years old before harvesting it. With funding from Geos and NRDC, and assistance from the Tongass National Forest (for GIS data), Mater Ltd. and Oregon-based Conservation Biology Institute updated the initial report with the region’s first map of accessible second growth using GIS data supplied by the Tongass National Forest.

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