Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument Expansion Hearing

On October 14, 2016 Senator Jeff Merkely held a public hearing on the proposed expansion of the approximately 62,000 acres Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, which includes the Pilot Rock area. It was designated by President Clinton in 2000 as the nation's first monument to biodiversity and contains extraordinary plant and animal diversity. The region is considered a unique biological crossroads for wildlife and plants dispersing across the Cascades, Siskiyous, and Coast Range. It is the nation's only monument to biodiversity.

Scientists, including Geos Institute, have been calling for expansion of the monument to enable wildlife migrations facing unprecedented climate change and development in the surroundings.


Geos Institute publishes new report on an All Lands and All Waters Conservation Approach for the incoming administration

Executive Summary

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Scientific integrity—the use of quality science in decision making—is the hallmark of credible, effective policies for the conservation of biological diversity. This document includes big picture ideas for strengthening scientific, ecological, and economic underpinnings of federal lands and waters conservation as well as for engaging nonfederal owners in an all lands and waters conservation approach.

Fully one-third of the nation’s lands are held in the public trust as federally administered public lands. National parks, wilderness areas, national recreation areas, wild and scenic rivers, wildlife refuges, national forests, Bureau of Land Management lands, and national monuments are among the nation’s crown jewels. Together, public lands are wellsprings of biodiversity and support a burgeoning recreation and tourism economy, jobs in restoration and land stewardship, clean water, and climate regulation. The rest of the nation’s open spaces are administered by the states and private landowners and have important conservation values as well.

The United States also has 50,000 rivers totaling some 3.5 million river miles, 123,439 lakes, and 95,471 miles of coastline with additional ecosystem benefits. The Federal government is also responsible for how the oceans are utilized economically out to 200 hundred nautical miles and has greater regulatory authority over air space, waters and seabed out 12 miles.

America has an ever-increasing love affair with the great outdoors as record numbers turn out each year. Building on this support, the incoming administration has a unique opportunity to make conservation a top priority for all lands and waters conservation by:

  • Strengthening scientific integrity in federal agencies decisions by supporting agency scientists and appointing leaders with an established scientific pedigree.
  • Re-starting the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) with an infusion of youth employment in public lands restoration.
  • Making climate change mitigation and adaptation core public lands objectives, including keeping carbon in the ground and in ecosystems.
  • Strengthening implementation of and defending the Endangered Species Act from any Congressional rollbacks.
  • Adding at least 40 million acres of new protected areas to better represent conservation priorities.
  • Creating a national forest carbon trust where carbon is sequestered and stored long-term in some 33 million acres nationwide. A comparable carbon trust is needed for native grasslands as well.
  • Making freshwater conservation a priority for federal agencies broadly, including protection of intact watersheds for their extraordinary benefits to people and fish.
  • Enacting policies that result in large-landscape conservation by reconnecting habitat for migrating fish and wildlife.
  • Developing fiscally responsible and ecologically appropriate fire management policies.
  • Protecting at least 30% of the oceans by 2030.
  • Supporting and creating innovative incentives on nonfederal lands.

Download the full report: Low-resolution (7.39 MB) or Print quality (29.4 MB)

Summer 2016 Newsletter

Campaign to Establish a Forest and Climate Legacy for President Obama Heating Up

In this summer edition of the Forest Legacies newsletter:

The Tongass as Alaska’s First Line of Climate Change Defense

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At nearly 17 million acres, the Tongass National Forest in southeast Alaska is the nation's largest national forest and a carbon champion, absorbing some 8% of our annual carbon dioxide pollution in its productive old-growth rainforests. Unfortunately, the Forest Service proposes to clearcut 43,000 acres of this old growth, mostly in the next 16 years, releasing the equivalent emissions of some 4 million vehicles annually. The agency’s logging plan is an embarrassment to President Obama’s global leadership on climate change and contradicts his visit to Alaska last September when he announced, while in route to the Paris Climate Change Summit, that the state is the nation’s “sign post” on climate change.

For the past three years, Geos Institute, and our partners, Natural Resources Defense Council, Mater Engineering (board member), and retired Deputy Forest Service Chief Jim Furnish (board member), have been conducting ground-breaking research on the amount of young forests available to shift timber production out of controversial old-growth logging. Thousands of acres of young plantation forests originally logged in the 1950s have since regrown and will soon (by 2020) be ready offset the need to log old growth.

fl enews 201608 tongass2We also teamed with a local Alaska mill to propose a study that would determine the feasibility of processing young trees from the Tongass, using new milling technologies that get more material from small logs with much less wood waste. Collectively, this work is uniquely solving for economic uncertainties of a rapid transition. And while we have demonstrated to the Forest Service how transition can swiftly occur, they remain dug in on clearcutting vast areas of old-growth rainforests, the only national forest that is still doing this on a large scale.

In the coming months, we will be making a compelling case to the Obama Administration to direct the Forest Service to speed up its transition by taking advantage of this new opportunity we have demonstrated, and help save Alaska’s rainforests and climate. Only with bold direction from the President can we save the Tongass from rampant old-growth and climate-dirty logging.

Read more about what we are doing to protect one of the world's last relatively intact temperate rainforests.

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Race to Save the South Kalmiopsis and Oregon Redwoods in Full Gear

fl enews 201608 kalmiopsisEmerald green rivers, rare carnivorous plants, and massive Oregon redwoods make up a landscape unmatched in biodiversity across the American West. For the past 4 years, Geos Institute has partnered with local and national conservation groups to seek protection from mining of these waterways and for Oregon’s redwoods. Legislation has been introduced in Congress by Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and Reps. Peter DeFazio (OR) and Jared Huffman (CA) to protect at-risk watersheds that, although has yet to receive a hearing in the Republican-controlled Congress, did trigger a temporary withdrawal of new mining claims until Congress can act. Geos Institute is pushing for permanent protections of this area in the coming months that we hope to achieve before President Obama leaves office in January.

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Defending the Northwest Forest Plan: A Global Example of Large-Landscape Conservation

fl enews 201608 nwfpThe Northwest Forest Plan is a global model for ecosystem management and biodiversity conservation on over 24 million acres of federal lands from California to Washington. This landmark plan is scheduled for renewal in 2017 under the incoming Administration. The Forest Service is currently conducting a science synthesis in its preparation for future plan revisions. Geos Institute has been instrumental in providing sound science to the agency. Recently, we published a peer-reviewed paper on the 20-year anniversary of the 100-year Northwest Forest Plan in the journal Forests. That paper, along with hundreds of related publications by scientists, was sent to the agency in support of increased protections for Northwest forests.

This June, 13 leading scientists called on the Forest Service to expand protections afforded for forests and imperiled species as a means of preparing for unprecedented climate impacts and ongoing land-use disturbances mainly on nonfederal lands. We intend to brief the incoming Administration on the importance of building on the Northwest Forest Plan’s two decades of accomplishments.

Read the full comments here.

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The Wildfire Conundrum

Chief Scientist, Dr. Dominick DellaSala, was recently interviewed in a Jefferson Journal article, “The Wildfire Conundrum,” based on a three-part radio series on the Jefferson Public Radio.

“If fuels were contributing to more forest fires and more severe fires, that’s what we would be seeing in the West.” Instead, [DellaSala] says, “We are actually in a deficit of fire severity and fire acres in most of the West compared to historical times.”

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Geos Institute continues to be a national leader on advocating for the biodiversity importance of wildland fires and ways to co-exist with them without logging in the backcountry. Check out our book – “The ecological importance of mixed-severity fires: nature’s phoenix (link to the book goes here). In the coming months, we will be meeting with decision makers in Washington D.C. to make our case to Congress that responsible fire management can be achieved by first and foremost protecting homes and fire fighters so that more fires can burn safely in the backcountry performing a vital ecological role.

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Looking Ahead

fl enews 201608 whitehouseConservation always involves anticipation. And despite uncertainties in who the next president will be in November, Geos Institute is already preparing to brief the incoming Administration. We are in the process of working on a bold conservation vision for public lands that we hope to present to the incoming Administration during its first 100 days – stay tuned as we wrap up existing campaigns and keep our periscope up for emerging opportunities.

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