Benefit for Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project
The show will be Saturday, March 22 at 8pm at It's a Beautiful Pizza (3341 SE Belmont). There will be a gorgeous slideshow of threatened eastern Oregon forests and areas that have been protected through the work of BMBP. Following the presentation, we'll have music by Djinn Teeth, Danny Dollinger, and Jen Rawlings. There will be a sliding scale cover of $7-15. Coming to this show is a great way for "westsiders" to support eastern Oregon wildlands protection, as well as an opportunity to learn about the unique ecosystems over there. All proceeds will help BMBP continue to protect eastside public lands.
When most folks think "Northwest Forests" they picture the moist temperate forests of the Cascades. In fact, 63% of the forests in Oregon are east of the Cascades and represent high desert and high elevation interior forest ecosystems.
These forests are drier, and many of the animal, tree, and other plant species are different. Like the Westside, these forests have been ravaged by a hundred years of heavy logging. Nonetheless, the eastside still has Lynx, Wolverine, Pine marten, Northern Goshawk, Pileated woodpecker, Salmon, Steelhead, Bull trout, and Cougar, as well as many owls, raptors, neotropical songbirds, Bobcat, Coyote, Deer, Elk, Bighorn sheep, Pronghorn antelope, and maybe even isolated wolves in a few bigger wilderness areas. On the Eastside in general, one tends to see more wildlife than people.
Eastern Oregon has only 13% of of the states' human population and a significant portion of those folks are employed or otherwise affiliated with logging and ranching companies, or they are economically insecure small business owners. It is not what you would call the most supportive climate for engaging in forest defense. Even when people are supportive of protecting native forests, they are often afraid to voice their feelings publically.
Those few hearty souls doing forest activism on the eastside are greatly overstretched. The Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project (BMBP) has only two full-time (minimally) paid staff and covers the Malheur, Umatilla, Ochoco, and some of the Deschutes National Forests, as well as the Prineville BLM district. They also try to deal with other threats to biodiversity like gopher poisoning, herbicide and pesticide spraying, mining, predator extermination, and livestock grazing as much as they can. Considering their crazy workload, it's impressive that BMBP has been able to stop or significantly modify the majority of destructive projects they have taken on over the years. To accomplish this, they use on-the-ground field checking of sale units, comments, administrative appeals, and lawsuits. BMBP is pretty much the last line of defense for the areas they cover. Logistically, direct action isn't what one might call incredibly feasible out there. Sales are usually spread out over huge areas, have dozens of access roads, and are usually far away from any population centers. It's very difficult to have the population base to support or participate in direct action.
Like on the Westside, the Forest Service seems to be going after the last remaining old-growth habitat. The sales there often cover a bigger area than on the westside, typically over several thousand acres and with dozens to hundreds of units. Part of this is due to a regional restriction on cutting trees over 21" (diameter at 4.5 ft. off the ground) which resulted from a threatened lawsuit by the Natural Resources Defense Council in 1993. Also, there has been little clearcutting in eastside forests over the last 10-20 years because many clearcuts failed to grow back because of dry conditions and fragile soils. So, to satisfy the timber industry (with companies like D.R. Johnson, the biggest public lands logging company in eastern Oregon) and congressional timber industry puppets, the Forest (dis)Service offers sales of smaller trees over much bigger areas. This type of logging totally guts the understory, dries out the forest floor which sometimes increases the risk of fire, and makes the forest poor habitat for many old-growth dependent species.
The hysteria over the fires of last year was looked upon as a golden opportunity by the timber industry to expedite logging using the excuse of fuels reduction. While fire suppression has occured in many areas, most of the eastern oregon "fuels reduction" projects target larger trees that are just barely under 21"...keep in mind, trees grow much slower on the Eastside and a 21" tree can be 150 years old. Removing larger, fuel-resistant trees (that are on the verge of being old growth) only serves to dry the forest out and make it more flammable. Many of these ares are already deficient old-growth deficient from previous logging.
BMBP is actively engaged in nationwide efforts to stop the numerous threats to forests and public participation in the citizen review process. With many funders shying away from giving as much (depressed economy, corporate pressure) they need money more than ever to continue their work. While BMBP keeps costs as low as they can, things like lawsuits and field checking vast areas covering hundreds of miles are quite expensive. Without doing those things, however, BMBP would not be able to protect the amazing forest wildlands of eastern oregon.
For more information about BMBP, call (503)283-7769(Portland)
or write: BMBP, 27803 Williams Lane, Fossil, OR 97830
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