In the past, I would participate in a year-end tradition among photographers where favorite photographs over the previous year are selected and then featured in a blog post. Rather than do that, I decided to do something different. In 2016, I focused solely on visiting remnant old growth stands in the Umpqua River watershed in Southern Oregon so I have decided to highlight nine old growth forests that I visited which were threatened with logging during the last 20 years but were saved due to the efforts of Umpqua Watersheds, a local conservation group based in Roseburg, Oregon. I felt that highlighting these public lands is important for a number of reasons but, first and foremost, I do believe that they will come under threat of logging once again in the near future.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has already issued a revised resource management plan and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) is just beginning the process of updating the Northwest Forest Plan. The timber industry is looking to increase timber volumes from public lands under both plans (the BLM is already being sued by BOTH sides about their just release management plan) and it’s important to remind people about why these places deserved (and continue to deserve) protection. So, in no particular order..
1.East Fork Coquille (Umpqua Watersheds link)
This sale was issued by the BLM in 2003 and proposed clearcutting 600 acres of mature and old growth forests west of Roseburg in the Coastal Mountain Range. The oldest stands within the proposed units were more than 400 years old. The sale was finally stopped in 2006 due to a failure to protect Red Tree Voles (a food source for Spotted Owls).
2. Ragu (Umpqua Watersheds link)
Proposed in 1999, this BLM sale is also west of Roseburg near Camas Valley and sought to extract 5 million board feet of lumber from 177 acres. This sale was given a deferred analysis status in 2005 and then permanently scrapped in 2006.
3. Dickerson Heights (Umpqua Watersheds link)
A BLM sale proposed in 2006 located southwest of Winston near Ollala. These forests of Dickerson Rocks are home to the threatened Marbled Murrelet and also contain a diverse variety of trees including Madrone, Douglas Fir, Ponderosa Pine, Canyon Live Oak, and Incense Cedar.
4. Cow Catcher (Umpqua Watersheds link)
This BLM sale located within the town of Riddle’s water supply was initially proposed in 1999 but finally stopped in 2006. The BLM wanted to cut this old growth because “..aging stands that are declining in annual growth would be replaced with young, vigorous stands, which would more efficiently produce a sustainable supply of timber and other forest commodities.” (Cow Catcher Environmental Assessment, pg 21).
5. Spam (Umpqua Watersheds link)
A Forest Service sale in the Tiller Ranger District, this 1999 sale proposed logging on 312 including at least one unit that had never been logged before. This sale was stopped due to legal challenges related to the Survey and Manage component of the Northwest Forest Plan.
6. Felix (Umpqua Watersheds link)
A 1998 timber sale in the North Umpqua Ranger District of the Umpqua National Forest that proposed logging 330 acres of old growth forest, sometimes right up to the edge of a roadless area. This sale also was stopped due to the Survey and Manage lawsuit.
7. Nita (Umpqua Watersheds link)
This Forest Service sale dates back to a type of sale called a Section 318 Sale (more info here). The sale was re-opened thanks to the Rider Act of 1995 and was physically part of a Late Successional Reserve. Thanks to legal challenges, the Court ruled that this sale did not qualify under the Rider Act and was once again spared.
8. Can Can (Umpqua Watersheds link)
This BLM sale from 2006 proposed logging 520 acres of mature & old growth forests near Canyonville. It contains a diverse mix of trees and is critical habitat and home range for seven Spotted Owls. This sale was also prevented thanks to the Survey and Manage lawsuit.
9. Zinc (Umpqua Watersheds link)
This 1999 sale in the Umpqua National Forest’s Tiller Ranger District proposed logging 465 acres including large old growth (notably in Unit H). This sale was also halted due to the Survey and Manage lawsuit.
For 2017, I plan on heading back down to the Umpqua and continuing my project of visiting and photographing these old growth stands. I’ve recently processed some data which should help direct me towards the biggest tree stands, even in the large sale units so I’m hopeful that I’ll be even more productive. In the meantime, I welcome you to learn more and perhaps get involved in the fight: