Forest Legacies Programs

Forest degradation and deforestation contribute more greenhouse gas pollution globally than the entire transportation network.

Conversely, protecting and responsibly managing forests for their capacity to store carbon for long periods (centuries) along with their associated biodiversity and clean water is pivotal to stemming serious global warming problems. Thus, we seek to elevate the importance of intact forests and watersheds in the Pacific Northwest and southeast Alaska nationally and globally in climate change and land-use policies.

Because public lands policies depend to a great extent on which political party is in the White House or in the majority in Congress, we periodically revise program goals to be responsive to threats and opportunities on public lands. Our near-term goals are:

  • Transition logging on the Tongass Rainforest out of 2.5 million acres of old growth to about 100,000 acres of previously logged plantations within five years, thereby ensuring the Tongass will continue to sequester up to 8% of the nation’s globally warming pollution annually.
  • Defend public lands from inappropriate logging and fire management policies – Fire Ecology
  • During forest plan revisions, advocate for protection of ~1 million acres of at-risk legacy forests in the Pacific Northwest that store the equivalent of ~80 times Oregon’s global warming pollution.
  • Permanently protect 220,000 acres of a legacy landscape that may act as a climate refuge within the world-class Klamath-Siskiyou ecoregion.
fire factsheet thumb

Ecosystem Benefits of Wildfire vs. Post-Fire Logging Impacts

fire factsheet thumbMost wildfires in montane (mountainous) forests and shrublands of the western United States are ecologically beneficial and needed for the proper function and maintenance of fire-dependent biota. Unfortunately, many decision-makers view fire as “catastrophic” and believe it to be increasing beyond historical bounds. Contrary to popular belief, there is actually a deficit of wildfire acresin most western montane forests as compared to historical times due primarily to fire suppression. Although historical data using comparable tracking metrics are lacking on a subset of the very large fires (“mega-fires”), there has been no significant upward trend in these fires detected in the past 15 years, although longer timelines are needed for meaningful conclusions.

Read the entire fact sheet.

Old-growth Forests Hold Keys to Adapting to Climate Change

Scientists released new findings on the importance of mature and old-growth forests in preparing the Klamath-Siskiyou region of southwest Oregon and northern California for global climate disruptions. Published in the January edition of The Natural Areas Journal (Volume 32: 65-74) by the Natural Areas Association, the study calls on regional land managers to protect mature and old-growth forests as an insurance policy for fish and wildlife facing mounting climate change pressures from rising temperatures, declining snow levels, and reductions in fog along the coast.

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.

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.

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Geos Institute