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Environment

Conservation groups sue to stop post-fire logging on BLM land in Douglas County

ArchieCreek.jpg
Rachael McDonald
/
KLCC
Trees on BLM land burned by the Archie Creek fire of 2020. Photo taken on Feb. 17, 2021.

Three conservation groups filed a lawsuit Tuesday to stop logging on Bureau of Land Management lands affected by the 2020 Archie Creek Fire.

The Archie Creek Fire, sparked on September 8, 2020, burned over 131,000 acres in Douglas County. About 40,000 acres of BLM land was affected. The agency proposed salvage harvest of 12,644 acres in the fire’s footprint. In their planning documents, BLM said it needs to move fast to cut trees that were burned by the fire as they lose economic value over time.

“By late summer of 2022, the economic value of timber stands with high and moderate burn severity (where tree mortality is at or near 100 percent), could be reduced to the point that economic recovery would no longer be viable,” the BLM said in its Environmental Assessment issued in August of 2021.

Under federal rules, the BLM is required to manage lands for timber harvest.

But, conservation groups say the scope of the proposal is too big and affects older trees. Nick Cady is with Cascadia Wildlands, one of three conservation groups suing to stop the project.

“First and foremost, this is along the North Umpqua River, which is one of the prized recreation spots in Oregon,” he said.

The groups are concerned the logging could destroy recreation sites. Cady said some of the timber sales are within the wildland urban interface where there are homes.

“We’re concerned that all this logging and replanting is going to increase future fire hazard and risk for all of those properties that just went through this devastation and the BLM didn’t even remotely consider that,” he said.

BLM_Archie2.jpg
Rachael McDonald
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Cady also said that the project could hurt habitat for endangered Coho salmon and the spotted owl.

The BLM’s decision says the project would have no significant impacts to wildlife, recreation or fire hazards.

A spokesman for their Roseburg office said they cannot comment on pending litigation.

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