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Federal Areas Issues

The federal government owns a large percentage of Central and Eastern Oregon land. Each year the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management make decisions that significantly change our surroundings: how it looks, how clean our is our water, how much water do we have, where can we play and what will be the quality of that play, and how many of our wild fellow earth dwellers will survive for another year.

The pages linked to the left describe the federal actions being taken by the Sierra Club through a combined effort of the Oregon Chapter, the Juniper Group, and collaborative environmental organizations such as Blue Mountain Biodiversity Project, Oregon Wild, Hells Canyon Preservation Council, and Oregon Natural Desert Association. The pages are arranged by federal office, which are also geographically oriented. This makes it easier for you to find issues that directly affect you.

Projects that are completed, inactive, or cancelled can be found in the Library section. Go to the Federal Areas Issues Archive page for projects covering multiple federal areas, and for links to archive pages for the BLM and National Forests in Central and Eastern Oregon.

Page Contents

Blue Mountains Forest Plan Revision

Help Us Get this Process Off to a Sound Conservation Beginning!

The new Blue Mountains Forest Plan will guide management of over 5 million acres of our public lands for the next 15 to 20 years on the Malheur, Umatilla, and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests. The public meeting series throughout Oregon and southeastern Washington and a written comment period were conducted in 2010. The Forest Service is now "developing alternatives", and currently expects to publish a final draft in 2013. When the next document is issued, we will review it and decide our next step.

The latest status is available on the Forest Service web site at Blue Mountains Forest Plan Revision Overview. This page contains links to other pages with the related documents and maps.

August 2014 Update

The following update is provided on the FS web site linked above:

"Blue Mountain Forest Plan Revision DEIS and Proposed Forest Plan Comment Letters Public Reading Room

All of the comment letters received during the public comment period for the Blue Mountain Forest Plan Revision Draft EIS and Proposed Revised Land Management Plan (March 14, 2014 – August 15, 2014), totaling over 1,000 letters, are now posted in the following public reading room:"

No schedule for the next action is provided.

February 2014 Update

The Forest Service has just released a schedule for publication of the Proposed Revised Land Management Plan (known as the Forest Plan), Draft Environmental Impact Statement, and related comment period. Release of these documents will occur about March 14, 2014. The commenting period will run 90 days from that date. There will also be a series of 12 public meetings in northeastern Oregon cities and in Portland during March and April. The Forest Service newsletter can be read at: Blue Mountains Plan Revision Newsletter Feb 2014. (02-26-14)

Affects Malheur, Umatilla, and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests

Wallowa MountainsWallowa Mountains from JosephThe Malheur, Umatilla, and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests are combining to revise their Forest Plans into one plan from the greater Blue Mountain area. This plan will cover the Malheur, Umatilla, Wallow-Whitman and a small portion of the Ochoco National Forests. The Forest Plans define how the Forest Service will manage that particular forest. It provides land use guidelines that cannot be violated without a revision to the forest plan. Consequently, the content of these plans is important to everyone - the timber industry, the environmentalist, and the recreational user. The current Plans have exceeded their intended 15-year life, having been signed in 1989 and 1990. Consequently, they do not reflect the actual forests that exist today, current public sentiment, global warming concerns, or the large body of science knowledge developed since then.

This revision process was started in 2003, so it has had it's delays. However, it appears the Forest Service is now determined to push the process forward within the next few years.

Our Comments

The Sierra Club, in collaboration with Hells Canyon Preservation Council, Oregon Wild, Oregon Natural Desert Association, The Lands Council, BARK, Planeto Azul, and Wildlands CPR, has reviewed the proposed Proposed Action document and submitted extensive comments. One of the goals of these comments is to broaden the perspective of the proposed Forest Plan to include greater recognition of public recreation as a primary value of our forests. Tied to this is preservation of the remaining old growth areas for recreation values, as well as for protection of the earth ecosystem in many ways. These include preserving shrinking wildlife and plant habitat, as well carbon sequestration. The following are the key issues addressed by our comments:

  1. Recreation
  2. Need for Increased Protection of Last Wildlands
  3. Old Growth Forests
  4. Mischaracterization of Mixed Conifer-Mixed Severity Fire regime
  5. Management Focus: Restoring and Maintaining Terrestrial Vegetation Conditions
  6. Snags/dead wood, salvage logging, carbon storage and climate adaptation
  7. Protecting the Forest Ecosystem’s Foundational Soil Communities
  8. Management Focus: Restoring and Maintaining Watershed Conditions
  9. Restoring and Maintaining Social and Economic Conditions
  10. National Forest Management Act, Threatened and Endangered Species and Management Indicator Species
  11. Wildlife Corridors and Ecological Connectivity Is Top Priority
  12. Roads
  13. 2000 Resource Planning Act (RPA): Value of Ecosystem Services and Resource Trends
  14. Inappropriate Directives
  15. Recommendations for Standards and Guidelines

The full text of our comments can be read at Blue Mountain Forest Plan Comments.

This Plan is Critical to All of Oregon!

The outcome of this Forest Plan revision is critical to the future of all the other National Forests in Oregon, since the final version of this Plan is likely to provide a blueprint for revision of the other Forest Plans. So this document is important to not just the Blue Mountain area, but all of Oregon and possibly nationally. (3-10-11)