Late Mungers Timber Sale, Unit 5-1, will log these Douglas fir and many other large trees. Photo credit: Luke Ruediger, Applegate Siskiyou Alliance
Why this forest is special
This densely forested area of southern Oregon is part of a 24-million-acre landscape within the range of threatened northern spotted owls and other imperiled species that rely on late successional forests. The Cascade Mountain Range holds some of the most spectacular temperate mature and old-growth forests in the United States. Though heavily logged, hundreds of thousands of acres of towering trees remain alongside rushing rivers cut deep into mountains, supporting wild salmon and steelhead runs. The BLM Medford District includes the Oregon portions of Southern Cascades and Klamath Mountains ecosystems. The Klamath Mountains have been called the Galapagos of North America because of their exceptional biodiversity and are considered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and the World Wildlife Fund to be of global botanical significance.
Integrated Vegetation Management for Resilient Lands Project
The 800,000-acre project area covers the entire BLM Medford District, except the protected Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. The BLM wants to commercially log up to 20,000 acres of trees up to 36 inches in diameter and more than 150 years old. About 17,000 acres are within late-successional reserves established to protect habitat for the northern spotted owl and other species dependent on mature and old-growth forests for their survival and recovery. It also plans to build up to 90 miles of new logging roads.
Carbon and biodiversity
The BLM claims carbon emissions from logging these very large, old trees would be replenished over time and can’t be pinned to any specific location. In fact, scientists can readily identify sources of greenhouse gas emissions, including from logging, and have shown that the climate crisis is the cumulative result of numerous individual actions, including projects like this one. Commercial thinning operations have been shown to remove more carbon than wildfire and create multi-decade carbon deficits in forests where moderate to heavy thinning takes place. The project area includes habitat for several threatened species whose survival and recovery depend on old forests, including northern spotted owls, Humboldt martens, marbled murrelets and wild coho salmon.
Why these trees should remain standing
The project will clearcut up to 20% of mature forest stands, reducing the canopy provided by large old trees to just 30% and eliminating or reducing owl habitat. The BLM claims the project will make these stands more resilient, but removing large canopy trees would be more likely to increase fire risk by creating hotter, drier, windier conditions and encouraging the growth of shrubs, primary fuels that allow fires to spread.
The future of mature and old-growth trees in the Medford District
The current management plan for the Medford District BLM calls for increasing northern spotted owl habitat through habitat “restoration,” “resilience” and reducing fire risks. Yet the BLM targets old stands with large tree removal and canopy reduction. The Medford District BLM contains some of the last old forests in these watersheds. These forests are threatened by both current BLM logging practices and this project.
The BLM approved the project in March 2022 with a finding of no significant environmental impact. The Penn Butte and Late Mungers timber sales have not yet been scheduled.
How you can help
Sign our targeted letter to Secretary Vilsack and Secretary Haaland to call for durable protections for mature and old-growth forests on federal lands.
Submit Letters to the Editor about this project to your local newspaper.
Send emails and make phone calls to the Oregon Bureau of Land Management office to oppose the Integrative Vegetation Management logging project.
Local contact: Luke Ruediger, Applegate Siskiyou Alliance, email@example.com