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Protecting Oregon’s East-Side Forests

The public lands of central and eastern Oregon are less well-known and less protected than the lush ancient forests west of the Cascade Mountains. The central and eastern portion of the state contains more public forestland than western Oregon, while being far less populated and more fire-prone.

Eight years of intensive efforts by the Bush administration to undermine federal environmental laws and open public forest lands to logging have damaged the eastside region. The Obama administration, however, gives hope for a renewed use of good science and the potential to protect, restore, and recover Oregon’s eastside public forest lands, salmonid water systems, and imperiled wildlife.

View a pictorial slide show of Central Oregon’s forests streams, and deserts:

Forests, Fire, Resilience, and Restoration! (pdf)

Our Goals

The goal of our Central and Eastside Oregon Forest Protection Campaign is to halt short-term threats to forests, wildlands, and wildlife habitat east of the Cascade Crest in Oregon while building a larger and more vocal constituency for their long-term protection.

Specifically, we intend to work with the new administration to:

  • Curtail scientifically unsupportable logging projects. These projects, inappropriately disguised as “forest health” or “fire management” projects, are often located in old-growth forests, roadless areas, or in remote wildlands far from the human residences and communities the projects purport to protect.
  • Create green jobs in the woods that restore forest ecosystems. We will work to revise environmentally irresponsible forest projects and build public support for the removal of unnecessary logging roads. Additionally, we will advocate for projects to stabilize stream banks, improve fish passage, restore watersheds, remove small dams, control erosion and replace undersized culverts to aid fish reproduction.
  • Improve forest plan revisions. The new federal administration brings an opportunity to improve plans that are being developed for Oregon’s eastside forests. Many of these were started during the Bush administration and favor increased logging. Through our continued involvement in federal land management planning, and by involving the public through educational presentations, field trips, and events, we can secure regional forest plans that will protect and restore the eastside’s natural ecosystems and native species.
  • Prohibit reckless and inappropriate use of off-highway vehicles (OHVs). Extensive user-created OHV trail systems in remote areas and the lack of effective enforcement of existing OHV regulations are harming wildland habitat, important salmonid watersheds, and old growth stands. We will engage communities in reviewing and shaping the travel management plans currently being proposed for OHVs on Oregon’s eastside forests.

Click here to see a summary of current projects that have potential to impact the environment and forest health and the Sierra Club’s responses.

Our Results

Our efforts during the past year have saved over 5,000 acres of old growth and roadless areas from imminent logging; protected mature and old growth forests on at least 25,000 acres of national forest land; and sheltered more than 16,000 acres of public forests and waterways from off-highway vehicle abuse.

Last year we submitted more than 40 formal comments on proposed forest management projects and worked with the Forest Service to limit the impact of their proposed actions on Oregon’s environment. We issued seven administrative appeals and secured significant ecological protections by actively engaging in negotiations with the Forest Service and other important parties. We filed one lawsuit last fall, and a federal judge agreed with us in our assertion that the Forest Service was violating federal law, thereby saving thousands of acres of spotted owl habitat and old growth ponderosa pine from the chopping block.

Even more importantly, though, have been our efforts to build support for long-term forest protection by directly involving individuals and the public in this work. Last year we led or played a major role in organizing 28 field trips to threatened forest areas; organized dozens of slideshows and public presentations; guided the formation of affinity groups devoted to protecting their forest homes; and engaged scores of volunteers in monitoring and reviewing forest management proposals.

Summary of our 2009 victories!

Get Involved!

As a grassroots organization, the Sierra Club remains absolutely committed to inspiring and empowering volunteers to be a critical part of our ongoing forest protection efforts.

If you are interested in helping in this critical effort, contact Larry Pennington Eastside Forests Committee Chair.