For Immediate Release, December 8, 2020

Contact:

Noah Greenwald, (503) 484-7495, ngreenwald@biologicaldiversity.org

Oregon Department of Forestry Drops Two Timber Sales, Inches Toward Habitat Conservation Plan

PORTLAND, Ore.— As part of ongoing litigation brought by the Center for Biological Diversity and partners, the Oregon Department of Forestry has dropped two timber sales in exchange for the case being stayed through July 15, 2021.

“We’re glad these two harmful sales were dropped and that the Oregon Department of Forestry is finally working to get a habitat conservation plan to help protect coho salmon and other endangered species,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center. “But the department needs to do a lot more to ensure logging and roads don’t continue to harm threatened coho through landslides and chronic bleeding of polluting sediments.”

Landslides caused by logging are a persistent problem in steeper portions of the Tillamook and Clatsop state forests in Oregon’s North Coast Range. These landslides bury and suffocate salmon eggs and newly spawned salmon in fine sediments, fill pools needed by juvenile salmon, and decrease summer stream flows.

Under the Endangered Species Act, habitat conservation plans allow harm of endangered species in exchange for mitigation and habitat protection and include issuance of an “incidental take” permit. The Department of Forestry first started work on a habitat conservation plan in 1998 but never completed it — or obtained a permit. The Center, Native Fish Society and Cascadia Wildlands sued the department in 2018 for harming coho without a permit.

The two canceled timber sales, called Coast Bill and Thundercat, both involved logging and log hauling on exceedingly steep, landslide-prone slopes above coho-bearing streams, including the South Fork Trask River, Joyce Creek, Cedar Creek and the West Fork of the North Fork Wilson River.

The department has issued a draft habitat conservation plan, which states that landslide initiation sites will be buffered from logging. It has also stated that timber sales planned for 2021, including the two canceled this week, are consistent with the draft plan. Using lidar and other tools, however, experts hired by the Center identified extensive landslide-prone terrain in these and other sales that is still unbuffered.

“We’ll keep working with the Department of Forestry to ensure its habitat conservation plan truly protects coho salmon and the streams they need to survive,” said Greenwald. “The draft plan takes some important steps in the right direction, but it doesn’t go nearly far enough to avoid damaging landslides that are such a serious threat to fish.”

Landslide_Wilson_River_Sangye_Ince-Johanssen_FPWC-lpr.jpg
This landslide, pictured in 2019, was caused by a timber sale known as NW Combo, and deposited polluting sediments into the West Fork of the North Fork of the Wilson River in Oregon. Photo by Sangye Ince-Johannsen. Image is available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.