The land was auctioned off by the US Forest Service to the Seneca Jones Timber Company in 2003 and logging of old growth could now begin any day. In particular old rainforest above Blue River near Wolf Rock is threatened.
According to the USDA, "The decision to undertake the timber sale was initially made in 2003 for the upper reaches of the Blue River watershed, approximately 42 miles northeast of the Eugene/Springfield metro area. The sale covered 149 acres in five harvest units. Trees are on average 23 inches in diameter and 140 years old, with scattered larger, older trees also present."
Although environmental groups, Cascadia Wildlands and Oregon Wild, appealed the sale in 2003 it was pushed through by the Forest Service regardless of any environmental considerations.
There are now two pairs of endangered Northern Spotted Owls that have picked the region as their home. The Forest Service logging plan fails to protect populations of red tree vole nests located in the area. This small mammal that lives in the old conifer forests is required to be protected by law under the Endangered Species Act, should their nests be located, as are the owls. These voles are a major food source for the Northern Spotted Owl.
Kate Ritley, Executive Director of Cascadia Wildlands. "The McKenzie's forests filter our drinking water and shelter all kinds of wildlife. We need to protect these precious forests for future generations, not destroy them for short-term profits."
As a result of the clear cutting, the McKenzie watershed would be polluted, a highly negative impact considering it supplies the city of Eugene with drinking water. This would also prove detrimental to fish and aquatic populations. The appeal in 2003 successfully challenged the impact of the project assessed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) who reportedly provided false statements in order to allow the Trapper timber sale to proceed.
Cascadia Wildlands and Oregon Wild filed a recent lawsuit on October 15th in the U.S. District Court in Eugene to seeks an injunction barring logging on the Trapper sale until the Forest Service prepares a new environmental assessment.
A petition was handed in today to a representative of the Forest Service, and although he seemed happy to answer questions it is still uncertain as to what will happen in the near future. In order for these ecosystems to survive it is essential people act now before it is too late.