Oregon Call to Action: White Castle Treesit Needs Your Help

29 Aug

from Cascadia Forest Defenders

whitecastleSince the beginning of June this year, we have been occupying Unit 8 of the White Castle Timber Sale. We are tree-sitting and physically blockading logging of this ecosystem because we are opposed to the destruction of native forests in the name of bad science, clearcutting and what this timber sale proposes for the future of forestry practices in Oregon.

The BLM is proposing a closure that would restrict access to the timber sale. For more information about the closure, read this. We are asking for people to send comments to the BLM voicing their opposition to the closure by writing to: BLM_OR_RB_Mail@blm.gov. Thank you!

We will stay until the timber sale is dropped and the forest is protected. The weather and law enforcement are likely to get less friendlier but we will persevere. Too much is already gone to not fight for what remains. And we need your help! We need folks to join us in the woods, help us collect and transport supplies and we need folks to keep spreading the word.

If you want to come out to the woods or support us get in touch by emailing us at forestdefensenow@gmail.com. We have open weekly meetings Mondays at five in the Owens Rose Garden in Eugene, OR, which all are invited to attend if you are interested in finding out more of what we are about or want to find a way to plug in.

The White Castle Variable Retention Harvest (VRH) or the Roseburg BLM Pilot Project is 190 acre clearcut near the town of Myrtle Creek in southern Oregon. All of the timber sale is within area proposed as critical habitat for the survival of the Northern Spotted Owl and is in the home range of five different owl pairs. Located in between the ‘dry eastside’ and ‘moist westside’ forests, White Castle has incredible biodiversity, with Western Red Cedars and Sugar Pines, swamp ecosystems beside poison oak patches. White Castle is also located within the watershed of Myrtle Creek and the surrounding communities.

To view the Timber Sale prospectus ( the document that the BLM produces giving you all the information about logging plans and ecosystems of a given timber sale) follow this link

A ‘Variable Retention Harvest’ (VRH) , as far as we can tell, is the new code for clearcut that is proposed on Bureau of Land Management land in Oregon. VRH clearcuts 70% of a forest leaving the remaining 30% in little scattered patches. The science, developed by Drs. Norm Johnson and Jerry Franklin, is that there is not enough young forest around for species that need more meadow-like habitat, like butterflies and moths. We refute this by encouraging people to go take a look outside anywhere in Oregon.  Less than 5% of Oregon’s forest have not been clearcut while the Bureau of Land Management harvests of millions of board feet annually. We view variable retention harvests as an attempt by the BLM to cut the last of the old forests look like something that is good for the environment and endangered species.

The BLM states three needs that this the White Castle Variable Retention Harvest will fulfill.
First: “to create complex, early successional habitat that will function for up to thirty years.” The main problem with this premise is that early successional (young) forest is abundant on the landscape. The BLM argues that the existing young forest is not of high quality, but failed to define the metrics of this quality. Even if the BLM had demonstrated a need to create this type of habitat, there is no need to sacrifice mature native forest to accomplish these goals. Restoration thinning on a previously cut plantation would serve the same ends and be much more environmentally appropriate.
Second: “for the purpose of applying Recovery Actions from the Northern Spotted Owl Recovery Plan.” The first premise of this plan is to protect the best of the spotted owl’s remaining habitat. This sale is inside of the home range of five northern spotted owls and is designated critical habitat. The White Castle project would destroy the very habitat which the Northern Spotted Owl Recovery Plan proposes to protect.
Third: “to design and offer timber sales that will provide jobs and contribute timber for manufacturing.” It’s true that rural communities like Myrtle Creek are somewhat dependent on timber revenues, but there can be projects which can provide these opportunities while serving actual ecological needs. The BLM has created an unacceptable plan to log native forest and should shoulder the blame for failing to provide appropriate projects which would meet ecological and economic goals.

While variable retention harvests and the beauty of White Castle are enough reason to blockade as is, the timber sale is also tied into wider battle of the fate of public lands in the Northwest. The O & C Lands make up more 2.5 million acres of forest and the many proposals currently exist to try to use these lands as a cure to county budget problems, shortage of profits for timber companies all the while trying to maintain the facade of ‘it being good for the environment’. Variable retention harvests are the BLM’s own solution to opening up the cut while keeping environmentalists happy and White Castle is one of the first proposed sales of this new variety on the O. We are not interested in any proposal or course of action that sacrifices the remaining forests for short term solutions. We hope that the fate of the O&C Lands supports the longterm survival of both Oregon’s ecosystems and people.

For more information about O & C Lands check out the ‘O&C Lands’ tab on this website.

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