Pacific Northwest

Protecting ~1 Million Acres At-Risk in the Pacific Northwest

For decades, the Pacific Northwest has been ground zero for battles over logging old-growth forests that reached a zenith with the federal listing of the Northern Spotted Owl as “threatened” in 1990.

Protections afforded by the Endangered Species Act and other laws and regulations ushered in game-changing forest management policies and the birth of the landmark Northwest Forest Plan that lowered logging levels by 80 percent on ~25 million acres of federal lands from Washington’s Olympic Peninsula to California’s Coast Redwoods. In 2014, Geos Institute celebrated the twenty-year anniversary of the plan hailing it as a global model for ecosystem management and biodiversity conservation. But the plan would have collapsed in the Bush-administration years if not for efforts by Geos Institute and our partners.

In 2008, we were part of a team of scientists that exposed political interference in the Endangered Species Act uncovered during our participation on the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s spotted owl recovery team. Our work was featured in breaking news stories from CNN to the Jim Lehr News Hour. When President Obama took office in 2008, he overturned the Bush administration’s efforts to rollback old-growth forest protections, citing political interference and scientific integrity issues that we worked to expose. And while old-growth logging on federal lands in the region is now at historical lows, the threats to overturn the plan are ongoing and have become more localized to ~2.5 million acres of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands in western Oregon undergoing forest plan revisions.

Facing mounting pressures from the timber industry (lawsuits) and from the so-called 18 O&C counties in western Oregon in search of tax revenues from federal logging receipts, Senator Ron Wyden and Congressman Peter DeFazio each introduced legislation that would increase levels on BLM lands, moving away from some of the key protections of the Northwest Forest Plan.

The Northwest Forest Plan: Still the Best Science of the Day

Executive Summary

Northwest Forest Plan

The 1994 Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP) shifted federal lands management from timber dominance to ecosystem management and biodiversity conservation on nearly 25 million acres within the range of the threatened Northern Spotted Owl. Several assessments have demonstrated that the scientific underpinnings of the plan remain sound and that it has met most of its ecosystem management goals, including:

  • Greatly reduced logging of old-growth forests on federal lands;
  • Slowed declines of the Northern Spotted Owl and Marbled Murrelet that would have been much worse;
  • Provided a “safety net” for rare species outside the reserve network (so called “survey and manage” species);
  • Vastly improved watershed conditions across over two-third of 193 watersheds managed under the Aquatic Conservation Strategy (ACS);
  • Provided indirect climate benefits in the form of carbon sequestration and carbon storage and high quality water;
  • Provided a “soft landing” for the timber industry as it continues to consolidate and shift toward smaller logs;
  • Decoupled Oregon counties from reliance on uncertain and unsustainable timber receipts; and
  • Sustained quality of life benefits for regional economic diversification.

Continue Reading

New Report to Solve the Western Oregon County Payments Impasse

Shared Responsibility: The Conservation Community’s Recommendations to Equitably Resolve the O&C County Funding Controversy

Reports and Info:

As Oregon county governments receive their last checks from federal taxpayers under the expired county payments program, a coalition of seven local, state, and national conservation organizations has unveiled a balanced strategy to resolve the county funding conundrum.  Given the growing trend in Congress to end Oregon's county payments program, the groups are promoting a shared responsibility approach, where county governments, the State of Oregon, and the federal government would each take responsibility for resolving a portion of the problem.

Continue Reading

Contribute

Please give generously today.

Donate Now

Initiative of
Geos Institute