Timber group calls off protest

Paul Fattig / The Mail Tribune (Medford) /

A Portland-based timber industry group Friday withdrew its administrative protest of a restoration forest management project that includes a 6.75-million-board-foot timber sale on public lands near Butte Falls.

The American Forest Resource Council also asked environmental groups to follow suit with other timber sales on U.S. Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service lands, noting the appeals and litigation are costing Oregonians jobs.

“We made our point,” council President Tom Partin said in a prepared statement. “We are confident that the BLM is now aware of AFRC’s concerns.

“We have acted in good faith by withdrawing our protest,” he added. “We challenge those holding up the BLM sale program with appeals and litigation — Cascadia Wildlands, Center for Biological Diversity, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, Oregon Wild and the others — to withdraw their appeals and litigation now. Our forests and our communities depend on our cooperation.”

He estimated the groups have used appeals and litigation to stop at least 25 BLM timber sales containing more than 90 million board feet of timber in southern Oregon.

“Every million feet of timber supports 38 jobs,” he said. “That’s almost 3,500 Southern Oregonians who are suffering from underemployment at a very bad time in our state’s economy.”

Joseph Vaile, program director for the Ashland-based Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, countered that his group and others aren’t opposed to logging, providing it is done in a manner that is sustainable and doesn’t degrade the environment.

“We look at each project individually, based on the criteria of protecting old growth, clean water and wildland habitat,” he said. “We have far more agreement with federal agencies projects than disagreement. I think there is a lot of common ground moving forward.”

Partin noted that no timber harvesting would have been stopped by the council’s protest. The withdrawal ensures the BLM would expend no resource on a formal response, he said.