The area was subject to a high-intensity wildfire 150 years ago, which left clusters of old growth among an area that is largely 140 year old post-fire regrowth. The area is also habitat to the endangered spotted owl. In 2005 NEST (Northwest Ecosystem Survey Team) surveyed the area, discovering numerous nests of the red tree vole, which is a primary food source for the spotted owl. In addition to the presence of endangered species, the McKenzie River Watershed, which provides drinking water for much of Eugene and Springfield, is fed by creeks from Trapper. Logging in the area would create silt and chemical runoff into the river and would pollute this drinking water source.
Controversy around this sale has been high since its inception in 2003. Typically, logging companies have 5 years to cut before their contract expires, but Congress gave an extension to all logging contracts in 2008, giving Seneca Jones until 2013 to complete logging in this controversial sale. Not only did they receive another 5 years to complete the project, but the company got an extreme reduction in price. The cost for the 8.3 million board feet of the Trapper sale was purchased for $1.48 million in 2003; now Seneca only stands to pay $550,000 to ravage 150 acres of native forests.
Earlier this month nearly all preparations for logging had been completed and cutting was eminent, until a pair of spotted owls was found adjacent to the sale boundary. Plans for logging have been temporarily halted as the Forest Service is obligated to produce a biological assessment of this habitat. However following the completion of this assessment and subsequently the biological opinion issued by the Department of Fish and Wildlife, chances are very high that logging will begin almost immediately.
The Forest Service has recognized the value and controversy surrounding this piece of forest, and has stated they will consider offering a trade, which would substitute the Trapper stand for less pristine stands elsewhere in the Willamette National Forest. Seneca Jones Timber Company, however, has shown little interest in such a proposal.
Our native forests are in and of themselves an endangered species and this particular area is a beautiful mix of mature forest and old growth that provides incredible habitat, as well as pristine drinking water.
There is still time to halt this project!
Call the Willamette National Forest and Seneca Jones Timber Company and demand they drop the sale. Tell them we will not stand for logging in our watershed, and we will not sit quietly and continue to witness the destruction of our last remaining native forests.
Meg Mitchell, Supervisor, Willamette National Forest, 541-225-6300
Rick Ram, Seneca Jones Timber Company, 541-689-1011