Environmentalists try to cloud the issue on BLM sales

Recent articles, letters and guest editorials concerning the Friese Camp Forest Management Project have created the false impression that the forest industry is opposed to thinning as a means to better management of our sadly neglected federal forests.

This is not the case.

Unfortunately, thinning is not all our forests require to be healthy, and to contribute to the health of our communities and the industries that support them.

It seems that every few years someone comes up with a new theory about what our forests need. As long as it is vague enough not to be threatening to any stakeholder, things go along fine.

Then, as the theory (in this case the forest restoration strategies of Norm Johnson and Jerry Franklin) gets pushed and pulled to suit one interest over another, the trouble begins.

The American Forest Resource Council, an industry association dedicated to ensuring a reliable timber supply from public and private lands and promoting sustainable forest management, rarely protests a BLM timber sale. But AFRC did protest the Friese Camp project. Not because it wants to cut "old-growth," but because the BLM's decision is not consistent with the Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP) or the O&C Act.

That isn't a simple-sounding reason, so more nefarious motives have been ascribed to AFRC by Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center and others.

AFRC believes that regeneration silviculture and thinning both have a place in proper management of our federal forests. So do Johnson and Franklin.

Another restoration forestry project implemented under the direction of Johnson and Franklin in the Coos Bay BLM District is currently being held up by protests from the Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center and others. This project does not harvest old-growth, rather it would harvest stands under 80-years old.

In his Sept. 23 guest opinion, George Sexton claims that he agrees with the two forest scientists, that we should move past the old-growth logging debate. If so, then why did he protest a Franklin and Johnson project that does not log old-growth, and has in his words, moved past the debate?

What should be of great concern to citizens of southwestern Oregon and all of the 19 counties dependent on revenue from O&C lands is that activist organizations like Mr. Sexton's have stopped no fewer than 25 BLM timber sales by appeals and litigation.

Those sales contain more than 90 million board feet of timber (enough to support more than 1,600 southern Oregon jobs) that cannot be harvested by local loggers or milled by local mill workers until the protests and appeals are resolved.

AFRC's protest did not ask for any timber harvest to be halted, but only for the agency (1) to follow the law; (2) not to change its adopted plans without giving all stakeholders a chance to weigh in; and (3) not to ignore the direction of Congress.

Contrary to George Sexton's prediction in this paper on Sept. 13, my company, a small business celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, did buy the Vine Maple timber sale, which is part of the Friese Camp project. Rough & Ready is a member of AFRC. As desperate as we are for logs, we understand why the Friese Camp protest was needed to expose the biased management approach the BLM has taken.

But our company can't wait for that larger change. When you are starving and are frantic for a meal, you won't refuse a crumb. I hope Mr. Sexton and the BLM can be helped to understand that the BLM timber sale program is too important to be experimenting with new theories.

Jennifer Krauss Phillippi is president of Rough & Ready Lumber Co., based in Cave Junction.

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