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Environment, Energy and Transportation

Oregon Conservation Groups Call For Protection From Post-Fire Logging

Logging - Burns - OPB.jpg
Jes Burns / OPB
OSU fire researcher Chris Dunn examines a several-hundred-year-old Douglas fir that stood at the entrance of Delta Campground on the McKenzie River. The tree was cut as a hazard tree after the Holiday Farm Fire.

A coalition of environmental groups sent a letter to Oregon’s congressional delegation this week urging them to stop proposed post-fire logging on federal lands that burned during the 2020 wildfire season.

The letter was signed by 38 conservation groups including the Native Fish Society, Sierra Club and Oregon Wild.

Together they’re urging Oregon’s elected officials to halt proposed logging projects on about 10,000 acres of federal lands. The letter singles out areas that burned during the Holiday Farm Fire along the McKenzie River and Archie Creek Fire along the North Umpqua River.

“These post-fire projects do remove most of the remaining standing trees, especially in severely burned areas,” says Samantha Krop, who helped organize the coalition. “That’s where we see real clear-cut looking forests is in some of these stands that have burned more thoroughly.”

The letter requests that federal land managers remove a designation known as “categorical exclusion” on these sites that expedite post-fire logging operations and calls for them to undergo the usual scientific review process and include public input.

It asks federal agencies to avoid post-fire logging of old-growth forests, and implement a number of conservation measures included in the Northwest Forest Plan and Northern Spotted Owl recovery plan.

“Wildfire boosts diversity in forests by helping to create biological legacies like standing dead snags, downed woody debris, and natural canopy gaps,” the letter reads. “This added complexity creates space for the introduction of complex habitat and rich diversity that is not present in forests that have been cut and replanted with commercial species.”