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Old 09-06-2009, 08:19 PM
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Tillamook Forest Alert from NW Steelheaders

Hello Steelheaders!

This is a special action alert blast informing all Association members with email addresses of a very important Board of Forestry (BOF) meeting in Silverton at the OREGON GARDEN RESORT, 895 WEST MAIN STREETon Wednesday September 9 beginning at 8:00 am. The outcome of this meeting may ultimately impact fish habitats. The background to the issue before the BOF is provided below for your reference by the Association's Board Director for Resources, Ian Fergusson:

"We are forwarding a notification from the Wild Salmon Center regarding the September 9 Board of Forestry meeting in Silverton. This is an opportunity for Steelheaders to show their support for the Association’s mission statement: “Anglers Dedicated to Enhancing and Protecting Fisheries and their Habitats for Today and the Future”.

Forest management is a complex and contentious topic. The general position of the Board of Directors is that the Association will oppose changes in timber management policy that would weaken protections for fish habitat, but would also not support a change in policy that would add further restrictions on timber harvest.

At its June 3, 2009 meeting, the Oregon Board of Forestry approved several changes to the plan governing the management of State forests. One change is to reduce the amount of the forest that will be managed to allow it to slowly become older habitat, similar to historic forests. The original plan designated 50% of the forest for this management; the new plan designates only 30%. Timber harvest is allowed in the older forest stands as part of both management plans, so this designation does not “lock up” any part of the forest.

One of the Oregon Administrative Rules that helps set direction for State forest management (629-035-0010-6b) states that forest management will “result in a high probability of maintaining and restoring properly functioning aquatic habitats for salmonids, and other native fish and aquatic life”. The Department of Forestry’s analysis of the plan changes concluded that the original plan has a high probability of maintaining fish habitat (it meets this part of the standard) and a moderate probability of enhancing habitat (it falls short of this part of the standard). The new plan would have only a moderate probability of maintaining and restoring fish habitat (it would fall short of the standard on both counts).

Another change to the plan is to let the current “Salmon Anchor Habitats” expire over the period 2011-2013, and replace them with “Aquatic Anchor Watersheds”. This is more than a name change. Limitations on clear cutting within the Anchors would be changed, with a higher rate of clearcutting allowed under the new designation. The Department of Forestry’s analysis states that 8 of 17 current Salmon Anchor Habitats are under “moderate to high risk” over the short term (5 to 45 years) under the current plan, and that 13 of the 17 would be at moderate to high risk over the same period under the new plan.

For those reasons, the Association of Northwest Steelheaders opposed the proposed plan changes and submitted written testimony prior to the June meeting. We saw the actions as detrimental to the conservation facet of forest management, especially because of the additional risks to fish habitat presented by increased clearcutting, increased road construction, and reduction of protections within Salmon Anchor Habitats. We are not asking for further restrictions on timber harvest; we are only asking for the current plan to be maintained.

On Wednesday, September 9, the Board of Forestry will consider approving the language that revises the plan. The April 2010 meeting is set for final approval to the changes. This gives us another opportunity to be heard.

Please attend the hearing. Testify if you would like, but it’s not necessary. What is necessary is a show of strength among the angling community, to let the Board of Forestry know there are many members of the public who value healthy fish populations and clean water."

From the Wild Salmon Center:

"Help Protect Oregon's Tillamook Forest! Forestry Board votes to allow clear-cutting on 70% of our state forests and put critical salmon and wildlife at risk.

The Oregon Board of Forestry voted last June to open 70% of the Tillamook and Clatsop state forests to widespread timber clear-cutting. This short-sighted decision will harm thousands of acres of native forests on Oregon's North Coast, including key salmon "anchor" watersheds that are critical habitat for wild salmon and steelhead.

The Wild Salmon Center has been leading the coalition to protect the Tillamook and its salmon anchor habitats and now we need your help!

Here are two ways you can make a difference right now:

1) Send a letter to Governor Ted Kulongoski telling him that you oppose weakening the protections for fish and wildlife on the Tillamook and Clatsop forests. We need a balanced approach that restores watershed health, not intensive clear-cutting for short-term gain. And we need a balanced Board of Forestry that includes scientists and leaders from the conservation and recreation communities.

2) Come to the September 9th Board of Forestry meeting in Silverton to show your support."

This ends the Wild Salmon Center's announcement.

Thank you for your support.

Paul Cathcart

Executive Director

Association of Northwest Steelheaders
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