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.

Aftermath of the 2017 Chetco Bar Fire

Commissioners hit Forest Service with vote of “no confidence,” but they stand alone

By Curtis Hayden

Originally published in Sneak Preview on March 1, 2018 (Grants Pass and Medford) and April 1 (Ashland)

The timing was impeccable. A couple of weeks ago my wife and I were visited by some friends from Portland, Tom and Laura, and when I mentioned that I was writing a story about the Josephine County commissioners and their vote of no-confidence in the ability of the U.S. Forest Service to handle catastrophic forest fires, Tom went out to his car and returned with a book he was reading, Timothy Egan’s The Big Burn.

I figured the book was about the Tillamook Fire of 1933 because I’d heard a lot about that Mother of All Fires over the years.

“The Tillamook Fire was nothing,” Tom said. “It only burned 300,000 acres. This book is about the fire that took place in northern Idaho, Montana and Washington in 1910, which burned over three million acres.”

tongass rainforest dds

Geos Institute on steering committee of IntAct

Geos Institute is part of an international coalition dedicated to protecting the world’s last remaining primary (unlogged) and intact forest landscapes (forest legacies). We are on the steering committee and science committee for Intact: International Action for Primary Forests. You can learn about the climate, water quality, and biodiversity benefits of these remarkable forests by clcking here: www.primaryforest.org – our position is that the planet’s remaining primary (old growth) forests should be free of industrial activities. Read our statement and see the list of organizations that have already signed on.tongass rainforest dds

Apologies from teen who started Eagle Creek fire

On Friday Februray 16th the following article was posted online by the Washington Post, featuring the work of Forest Legacies director Dominick DellaSala. 

The 15-year-old boy who started a wildfire that torched 48,000 acres of one of the northwest’s most coveted scenic regions entered the courtroom stoically Friday. Wearing a beige suit, a black necktie and with his hair neatly combed, he admitted to all 12 of the misdemeanor charges against him, and when he spoke to the courtroom, he apologized.

He apologized seven times.

The wildfire he admitted to sparking along the Eagle Creek Trail — in the heart of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area — started Sept. 2 when he hurled a firecracker into a dry ravine as a group of friends filmed him with a cellphone. On that scorching-hot afternoon, the state was in the midst of a burn ban.

“Every day I think about this terrible decision and its awful consequences,” said the Vancouver, Wash., boy, who is being identified by the judge only by his initials, A.B. “I know I will have to live with my bad decision for the rest of my life.”

Agreement skips over wildfire funding fix

This story from E&E News is especially timely. We’ve been pushing hard here at Forest Legacies on the fire fix funding as there are really bad logging provisions being proposed by Congress that would usher in massive logging on national forests, eliminate roadless and old growth protections on the Tongass National Forest in Alaska, and bypass landmark environmental laws. We recently with law makers and the reporter below while in DC. This is a big push nationally to maintain public lands protections that we are involved with.

By Marc Heller and Geof Koss, E&E News reporters

Originally Published at E&E News on Thursday, February 8, 2018

The battle over federal wildfire funding and forest management will go on, given that a broad budget deal between Senate leaders failed to resolve the issue.

Scientist urge Congress to back off roadless rule

By Kevin Gullufsen

Originally published January 28, 2018 05:58 am at the Juneau Empire

Tongass old growth, aquatic life put at stake by spending bill, they say

A group of 220 natural resource scientists urged Congress with a joint letter Friday not to eliminate the so-called “roadless rule” on Alaska’s Tongass and Chugach national forests.

The letter comes in response to two proposed changes U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, attached to an Interior Department spending bill in November that hasn’t yet passed. One provision exempts the Tongass and Chugach from prohibitions on road construction and timber harvesting in certain areas of the national forests.

Another section overturns protections in the Forest Service’s Tongass Management Plan for valuable old-growth timber. The plan instead charts a path toward logging younger tree stands.

Overturning these protections, the scientists write, would threaten salmon runs and the Tongass’ ability to store carbon and mitigate climate change.

200+ scientists urge vote against Tongass rider

By Marc Heller, E&E News reporter

More than 200 scientists urged Congress in a letter today to protect the Tongass National Forest in Alaska from increased logging of old-growth trees, an issue that’s in the background of budget negotiations in the Senate.

The 220 researchers, mainly from universities and nonprofit organizations, spoke out against proposals by Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) to exempt the Tongass and Chugach national forests from rules limiting road construction in national forests and to slow the Forest Service’s transition to younger-growth timber in the Tongass.

Old growth, new fight: Tongass timber slows wildfire bill

By Marc Heller, E&E News reporter

Originally Published: Friday, January 26, 2018, E&E Newswire

The old-growth timber industry’s fight for survival in Alaska may be complicating congressional efforts to reach a long-term solution to costly wildfires.

Senate aides and lobbyists told E&E News that Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s focus on protecting southeast Alaska’s shrinking old-growth timber business is one potential wrinkle as lawmakers balance environmental and forest industry interests in search of a compromise, possibly in a spending bill covering the rest of this fiscal year.

As the Republican chairwoman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and often a swing vote on issues in the Senate, Alaska’s senior senator is a key player in the wildfire and forest management debate. She told E&E News on Wednesday she’s still working toward including a wildfire measure in a broader bill but didn’t elaborate.

Guest Opinion: All the king’s horses can’t make wildfires go away

Published in the Medford Mail Tribune on December 31, 2017

By Dominic DiPaolo, Dominick A. DellaSala and Dennis Odion

State Sen. Alan DeBoer recently convened town hall meetings in Medford and Ashland on last summer’s wildfires and actions under consideration at the state Legislature. What we hoped would be an informed discussion became a venue for DeBoer to promote unfounded theories, point fingers and dismiss real dialogue. As ecologists who have studied forest ecosystems for decades, we realize that wildfire is alarming, smoke unhealthy, and everyone is looking for solutions. However, we take issue with DeBoer’s unhelpful ideas and offer caution about using forest thinning as a panacea to all issues surrounding wildfires.

DeBoer started both meetings by giving the floor to William Simpson, who proposes introducing feral horses to control flammable vegetation in the Siskiyou Mountains. In doing so, DeBoer privileged a position that is not only unscientific and unworkable, but already proven ineffective. In the 1910s, the Forest Service studied livestock use of shrub-dominated areas in the Siskiyous and found that livestock were unsuccessful at converting large swaths of shrubs to grass. Simpson’s proposal is unlikely to pass the federal permitting process and valuable time should not be wasted on it. Yet, Congressman Greg Walden and Curry County Commissioner Court Boice have endorsed it.

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