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Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project needs your help!

If you're at all familiar with their work, you need to speak up now. Blue Mountains is under attack in the Central Oregon press right as they have launched an appeal on one of the most important timber sales of the year.
In the wake of the B & B Complex fires that broke out right before President Bush came to town, and many sources, including some official ones, are declaring as deliberate, blatant, arson, Blue Mountains is getting hammered in the local press, right as they are appealing one of the most important timber sales of the year, the vast Metolius Basic project. Blue Mountains isn't alone in opposing the Metolius, but a lot of other local groups that haven't been surveying the area for the last year have caved into the Forest Service plan. Front page articles are quoting the Forest Service as gospel, while the editorials and letters are brimming over with misinformation and hateful rhetoric about environmental extremists. Keep in mind that this is a region where just "environmentalist" is a bad word.

There are two things that need to happen in response. The papers attacking Blue Mountains need to get letters to the editor in response, and people need to come to the Forest Service negotiation hearing in Sisters, for which 40 opposition parties have already registered their intent to come. That hearing has not been scheduled yet, but you can find out more by leaving a message at (541) 385-9167.

As far as papers go, I haven't been able to get the content of the September 3rd front-page article, or the Sept. 5th Editorial in the Bend Bulletin. I do have a couple of letters to the editor that they ran, which I'll reproduce below, as well as an article in the weekly theSource. At the end there will be some talking points and contact information for the papers.

------------Bend Bulletin Letters--------
Timber appeal
I noticed in the Sept. 3 Bulletin that an environmental group,
the Blue Mountain Biodiversity Group, has appealed the
Metolius Basin project. The project is the culmination of many
years of hard work by Forest Service professionals, local
citizens and environmentalists. It is considered by some a
model for future forest restorations. The simple fact that this
so-called environmental group would appeal proves to me that
they could care less about the forest environmentl.
I don't know what their true agenda is, perhaps they get a
rush by putting a project on hold that could ultimately end in
a fiery holocaust like the one we have narrowly missed in the
B & B Complex fire.
This action by the BMBP defies comprehension and it certainly
goes against any notion of common sense or rational thought.
In my opinion, the BMBP is an excellent example of what people
mean when they refer to "wacko environmentalists."
John F. Ferguson - Sisters

Timber extremists
While I watch the timber burning out of control in our Cascade
Mountains, my concerns over proper forest management are
important. Reading the newspaper and listening to the news,
the forest service says they are limited to what they can do to
manage timber because of the litigations by environmental extremists.
If George Bush was the person responsible for all the burned
timber, I can guarantee he would be pictured in our papers
standing in front of a charred tree. So who is responsible?
It isn't the forest service, they want to have more control,
and it isn't Bush. Bush is trying to gain support for the Forest
So, the only groups of people left are the extremists, their
organizations, and their radical agendas. One is the Oregon
Natural Resources Council and it's leader, the Sierra Club
and other environmental groups.
Should a list of these organizations be shown with the
charred trees? Is the public being held hostage by extremist
organizations? Is it better to have people working in the woods
to clean up the timberlands by clearing brush, thinning trees,
and doing select loggingor is it better to have people fighting
fire, risking their lives, while homes are threatened and people
suffer from smoke inhalation and emotional distress? A common
sense approach to timber management should begin immediately.
Henry Melhorn - Bend

Letters Policy:
250 words, writer's signature, phone number and address
My Nickel's Worth
PO Box 6020
Bend, OR 97708
FAX (541) 385-5804
EMAIL:  bulletin@bendbulletin.com

----Article in theSource, a Bend publication-----
It's available on the internet at  http://tsweekly.com/archive/localnews/localnews_7_38.htm

I think you can email letters to  news@tsweekly.com
They printed a really positive letter here:  http://tsweekly.com/pagefiles/column_files/_pages/letters.htm

-------Articles in the Nugget News, a Sisters paper-----------
An older one about the Metolius project...

Letters Policy:
Deadline is noon Monday for each week's paper.
300 words
EMAIL:  editor@nuggetnews.com

------Blue Mountains et al. press release available here:

----------Talking Points----------
* It is important to affirm that the Metolius is not a restoration project. It is a commercial timber sale covering 12,000 acres, with 21 million board feet lumber production. BMBP critics have pointed out that it won't recoup its own costs, and thus isn't a timber sale, but most Federal Timber Sales don't recoup their own costs.
* Blue Mountains' main objections that size restrictions allow cutting of what are basically old-growth trees in this dry, slow-growing climate. No size limit has been declared for Western Larch and 21" for Grand Fir. Cutting 12" trees is the largest diameter that can legitimately be claimed as fuels reduction.
* Creating clearcuts does not reduce fire danger. Young single-aged regrowth is extremely vulnerable as a conduit for fire.
* The Forest Service refuses to consider BMBP's suggestions regarding the protection of wildlife corridors, nesting habitat, and Old Growth protection, apparently because it contradicts the commercial bias of the sale.
* We support restoration work and bringing these jobs to rural areas. It is the effect of that work, and whether it truly aims at restoration that count. Plans like the Healthy (Horizontal) Forest Initiative and the fire plan concessions that Democrats just made in the Senate create distracting language to cover up the fact that the commercial timber interests are getting what they want at the expense of healthy forests and fire safety.

Call Karen Coulter at (541) 468.2028 (or the message # at the top) if you have more questions.

homepage: homepage: http://www.cascadiasummer.org
phone: phone: See text

Response to "Up in Smoke" article in The Source (liberal weekly paper in Bend) 26.Sep.2003 12:18

Lisa riverina999@yahoo.com

The article in the Source was particularly disappointing since they are typically more progressive than most of the papers around here. Here's a letter I wrote in response that they published this week.

To H.Bruce Miller and the Source:
I was unpleasantly suprised about the lack of balance shown in your "Up in Smoke" article by H. Bruce Miller about the appeal of the Metolious Basin Forest Management Project". When I read that the group filing the appeal, Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project (BMBP) could not be "reached for comment," my first thought was that you must not have tried very hard to reach them. Then I called Karen Coulter, BMBP's Director and discovered that someone from the Source had actually spoken with her before the article came out! This was somewhat disturbing, although to the author's credit, he did list some of BMBP's key concerns motivating the appeal. However, the article manages to discount those concerns without actually addressing any of them.
As one of the many volunteers who have helped BMBP w/ painstaking field surveys of the 12,500 acre Metolious Project area and as someone who has been following the planning process the last couple of years, there are a few key ponts I would like to make clear. No individuals or conservation groups, including BMBP, have ever advocated for "doing nothing" in the area. A myth is being perpetuated that BMBP is a wild Card that came out of nowhere to roadblock a perfectly good project that no one else in the world opposes. For one thing, BMBP has been involved in the planning process from the beginning. When commenting on the project, they supported a modified version of alternative 2. This alternative would have focuses on small diamter tree thining, brush removal, and prescribed burning to reduce fuels. Alternative 2 was not "ideal", but overall it would have provided a much more sensible and effective approach to reducing fuels across the landscape while providing some commercial timber. Had the Forest Service chosen Alternetive 2, they would not be dealing with an appeal right now. While alternative 3 was supported by some conservation groups, the modified version of Alternative 3 the F.S wants to go with has some areas where the amount of logging has been increased from the original.
In the Source article, Bruce Berryhill is quoted as saying "There are some groups who would rather see the forest burn than allow anybody to make a dollar cutting a tree". I have been involved in the Northwest Conservation Movement for the last eight years and have yet to meeti a conservationist whose primary motivation is to prevent people from making money. Instead, our most important consideration is determining what is best for the ecosystem overall. As long as the F.S. refuses to seperate commercially motivated logging and other extraction projects from small diameter thinning, community protection, and restoration activities such as road closures and streamside revegetation, concerned citizens will be forced into the awkward position of opposing their projects. Indeed, many public lands projects sail through every year with almost no opposition because they are planned with ecological, fuels reduction, or community protection goals in mind.
I'm fearful of the currently popular mindset that those who appeal and litigate against logging projects on public lands must be misguided obstructionists. The Bush administration, Rep. Walden, and others in Congress are currently working hard to gut laws which protect the environment and to eliminate citizen input about what happens on our public lands. These laws are not frivolous. They are there to protect wildlife, soils, and clean water and to guarantee democratic process.
By using the legally guaranteed right to appeal the Metolious Basin Timber Sale (and in it's current form it is a timber sale), BMBP is giving the Forest Service an opportunity to make changes that will result in needed fuels reduction and address important ecological concerns. If the F.S. stubbornly refuses to change their plans to log large trees, degrade soil conditions, etc., then I guess we'll know who the real "obstructionists" are.
Lisa Blanton
The PROWL (Protecting and Restoring Oregon Wild Lands) Project