Malheur National Forest, Oregon Ragged Ruby Project


Old-growth grand fir at risk of being logged in Ragged Ruby.

Photo credit: Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project

Why this forest is special

The Malheur National Forest encompasses 1.4 million acres across the Blue Mountains of eastern Oregon, stretching from high desert grassland to mountain fir forests. It’s adjacent to the Wallowa-Whitman and Umatilla national forests to the north and contains two wilderness areas.

Ragged Ruby Project

The Ragged Ruby project targets 6,097 acres of upland forest for logging, including commercial logging of mixed-conifer forest stands that would remove trees greater than 21 inches in diameter. This requires amending the forest plan to allow logging in old-growth stands and removing large trees, which will sever connectivity between old-growth stands. The project also includes bulldozing 15 miles of logging roads.

Carbon storage and biodiversity

The project will remove large trees that are the most fire-resistant and store the most carbon. It will diminish and fragment mature and old-growth tree stands, harming habitat for animals including white-headed and Lewis’s woodpeckers, martens, Canada lynx and gray wolves.

Why these trees should remain standing

Good restoration work could be done in the forest, but this project proposes aggressive industrial logging in wild backcountry that provides valuable wildlife habitat and carbon sequestration. The project targets trees larger than 21 inches in diameter, which are among the largest 3% in eastern Oregon. Its goals could be better met with grazing restrictions, prescribed fire, small-tree thinning and removing unnecessary roads.

The future of mature and old-growth trees in Malheur National Forest

The Malheur National Forest relies on a 32-year-old forest plan that designates old-growth stands on just 72,000 acres out of an estimated 300,000 acres of mature and old growth stands with trees greater than 21 inches in diameter. The Trump administration abolished a regional standard that protected trees 21 inches and larger, replacing mandatory protection with weaker guidelines on the Malheur National Forest and other national forests in Eastern Oregon and southeastern Washington.

Project status

The project decision was issued in December 2020. Logging of the Ragged Ruby Project is underway.

Local contact: Paula Hood, Blue Mountains Biodiversity project, paula@bluemountainsbiodiversityproject.org

The Worth More Standing report spotlights federal forest-management practices that are liquidating mature and old-growth forests and trees every day. It includes 10 examples that are part of a pervasive pattern of federal forest mismanagement that routinely sidesteps science to turn carbon-storing giants into lumber. Learn what actions you can take to protect Climate Forests across the country.