A logging project near Springfield is set to go forward after the Bureau of Land Management this week issued a decision. But, environmental groups are sounding the alarm with concerns over fire danger.
The project has already been challenged in court by conservation groups Cascadia Wildlands and Oregon Wild. Last fall, Eugene Federal Circuit judge Michael McShane ruled that the BLM’s plan violated federal law and did not adequately assess environmental impacts. The concern is that logging the area so close to neighborhoods and recreation areas will increase the risk of fire.
“If there’s a forest fire that originates in Thurston Hills or near there it would have potentially devastating effects.” Nick Cady of Cascadia Wildlands, based in Eugene, tells KLCC.
The 109-acres slated for harvest is adjacent to the recently developed Thurston Hills Recreation Area managed by Willamalane Parks. Parks manager Michael Wargo says their primary concern is that Springfield “would have access to convenient and exciting recreation trails.” Wargo says the BLM’s modifications to their original logging plan “do not impact that.” In an email to KLCC, Wargo says, “We trust that the updated Environmental Assessment addressed concerns related to fire hazards, meaning the property will be safer in the long run.”
Part of the BLM plan includes trail enhancements as required under their forest management plan.
According to the BLM, the harvest does not increase the risk of wildfire.
Seneca Jones Timber Company is the contractor for the Pedal Power sale. Casey Roscoe, Senior VP of Public Relations, says in an email to KLCC, “The BLM invested years of planning, public comment periods, and extensive outreach including letters to neighbors, public meetings, etc. “ And that any increased fire risk will be mitigate by improved access to suppress fires.
Cady with Cascadia Wildlands says he sees no difference in the new plan from the previous one. He says it’s possible they’ll challenge it again in court. The BLM issued its decision Monday, May 18. There is a 15-day comment period following the announcement.
BLM is accepting written and signed hard copies of protest at their Northwest Oregon Distirct Upper Willamette Field office by mail.
ATTN: Rebecca Brooke, Upper Willamette Field Manager, BLM Springfield Interagency Office, Northwest Oregon District, 3106 Pierce Parkway, Suite E, Springfield, OR 97477.
They can also be hand delivered by appointment. Call 541-683-6600.
Note: This story has been updated with response from the BLM.
Copyright 2020 KLCC.