Logging unit in the 42 Divide Timber Sale. Photo credit: Francis Eatherington
Why this forest is special
The Bureau of Land Management Roseburg District project is within the Umpqua River watershed in southwestern Oregon. It includes portions of the Cascades and Oregon Coast ranges. The Umpqua watershed hosts important runs of salmon and steelhead. These temperate, low-elevation forests include large, magnificent mature and old-growth stands that support rich species diversity and clear headwaters that flow to the Coquille River downstream.
42 Divide Project
As part of the 42 Divide Project, the Roseburg BLM proposes logging 5,280 acres of conifer stands, including clearcutting and commercial thinning on 1,728 acres, and building logging roads. Trees up to 200 years old are targeted for logging. The project includes some of the most intensive tree removal that the BLM allows.
Carbon storage and biodiversity
This coast range forest provides large-scale carbon storage, clean water and mature and old-growth habitat for animals protected under the Endangered Species Act, including marbled murrelets, coho and Chinook salmon, and Northern spotted owls. The most recent range-wide analysis for Northern spotted owls shows alarming population declines, with habitat loss still a major factor. Studies show the survival of marbled murrelets depends on no further loss of Coast Range mature and old-growth habitat.
Why these trees must keep standing
Logging large, old trees and mature stands removes trees most resilient to fire and climate change and most important for owl nesting and roosting. Logging in these older forests removes standing dead and downed dead wood, essential elements of forest health and habitat. Intensive logging will also harm stream flows. The BLM has refused to correct mapping and inventory errors that mischaracterize areas of mature and old-growth forests. This has led the BLM to propose logging trees that are much older than the agency claims.
The future of mature and old growth on the Roseburg District
About 1 million acres of mature and old-growth trees are at risk of being logged across the northern spotted owls’ range in western Oregon BLM forests. The Roseburg District’s forest plan requires maintaining the minimum amount of mature forest necessary to satisfy the legal requirements for marbled murrelet and spotted owl habitat. However, the BLM’s recent logging proposals focus on meeting high timber targets. The agency should undertake lighter-touch thinning only in stands younger than 80 years and in overstocked plantations that were created by clearcutting mature and old-growth stands.
In November 2021 the BLM announced it was developing an environmental assessment for the project. The agency hasn’t released a timeline.
Local contact: Madeline Cowen, Cascadia Wildlands, email@example.com