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Following environmental controversy, Oregon forest management project will be reworked

Andrew Kumler
Cascadia Wildlands
Activists raised concerns over the number of old growth trees in the areas targeted for logging in the proposed Flat Country Project.

Following the withdrawal of a controversial logging proposal for Lane County and surrounding areas, the U.S. Forest Service says it’s reworking its plans to improve local wildlife resiliency.

The Flat Country Project proposed tree thinning, logging, and wildfire fuel reduction across 4,000 acres of the Willamette National Forest. But conservation groups raised concerns over the inclusion of old growth trees in the plan.

Finally in December, the U.S.F.S. withdrew authorization for the project, citing changing wildfire conditions in Oregon and new federal guidelines.

David Warnack is the Supervisor for the Willamette National Forest.

“It’s important that we take the time necessary to understand these changes, in order to make decisions that support healthy and resilient forests and communities.”

Warnack said the U.S.F.S. will introduce a revised proposal this spring, after an expert panel discusses potential environmental impacts. He said the new plans will still help the local logging industry.

The final proposal will then be submitted for a period for public objection.

Bethany Cotton of Cascadia Wildlands, a Eugene-based environmentalist group, said activists will be watching carefully to see that the new plans are consistent with the law and scientific consensus.

Nathan Wilk is a freelance reporter and former reporting intern. He began in radio at a young age, serving as a DJ and public affairs host across Oregon. He is a senior at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication.