NEPA and the Antiquities Act: When is Public Input Needed?

On January 1st, 1970, Congress passed into law the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Billed as the “environmental Magna Carta”, NEPA marked the early stages of the country’s environmental policy agenda.

Fire Borrowing is Bleeding the Forest Service Dry

The first thing any new session of Congress hopes to accomplish is the designation of the coming year’s federal budget. As well as being one of the most important legislative acts, it is also one of the most contentious.

Timber, OR: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love Building With Wood

There is a bucolic nostalgia about wood buildings. Structures built from wood tend to have a rustic, outdoorsy feel; very ski chalet, very grandparent’s cabin. Although the aesthetic and sentimental appeal of wood buildings lingers, it, like most nostalgia-tied imagery, has been antiquated, pushed aside in favor of the new.

As Sawmills Close, so too do the Doors on Rural Communities

I was born in Prineville and grew up in rural eastern Oregon in the 1950’s. Prineville had four active sawmills and several secondary wood manufacturers. Unemployment was low, and jobs were readily available.

Trust Land Transfer – Good or Bad…Sure! – Part 1

Trust Land Transfer Program or TLT as most people refer to it, is a Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) managed program which began in the late 1980’s.

Trust Land Transfer – Good or Bad…Sure! – Part 2

In part one we covered the basics and overview of the TLT program. In part 2 I am going to address the second question; Why should you care? The answer; quite honestly the primary reason you should care about TLT is that it continues to erode the corpus (body) of the trust assets for near term gain at the potential detriment of future generations.

Trust Land Transfer – Good or Bad…Sure! – Part 3

In part 3 we will identify some ways to address the issue. While well intentioned, this program is broken and needs a tune up. Much like a new car off the lot, TLT was a shiny new program that worked at the time.

Travis Joseph: I am an environmentalist. I also work for the timber industry.

I am an environmentalist. I also work for the timber industry. Some people might see that as a contradiction. But in the timber industry, that’s the norm.

“Taking” Northern Spotted Owls

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) prohibits the “take” of any species listed as “endangered” but provides more latitude to species listed as “threatened”. The Northern Spotted Owl (NSO) is listed as a threatened species and therefore should not be subject to the take prohibition. The USFWS, however, has arbitrarily decided to extend the prohibition of take to all threatened species.

NEPA Run Amok

The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) states in its 2007 publication A Citizens Guide to NEPA that “The environmental assessment (EA) is intended to be a concise document that briefly provides sufficient evidence and analysis”.

The Principles of Sustained Yield

O&C lands “shall be managed . . . for permanent forest production, and the timber thereon shall be sold, cut, and removed in conformity with the principal of sustained yield for the purpose of providing a permanent source of timber supply”. So what is the “principle of sustained yield”?

Is the BLM Over Cutting?

It is often said that the BLM is not managing their lands sustainably and they are “over-cutting”. Elsewhere in this blog we have explained how one determines the amount of timber that can be sustained over time. Using those concepts, is the BLM overcutting? The answer is, it depends.

You Can’t Thin Forever

In recent months some federal agencies have come to terms with the same truth that AFRC and most foresters who practice their trade in the Pacific Northwest know well: you can’t thin forever.

Reconciling Forest Needs in SW Oregon

A rational mind would think that a native species of fauna would thrive in a setting composed of native levels of flora. In other words, if the “natural” condition of forested stands in southwest Oregon is one of lower forest canopy density, shouldn’t those species of wildlife dependent on them thrive under such conditions?

Forest Service Roads: Why We Need a New Road Maintenance Model

If you look around much of the road infrastructure – road surfacing, culverts, bridges, etc. of federal forests are crumbling away, much as we see across the federal highway system. For the most part this is not due to a lack of will or desire on the part of the hard-working field level staff of the Forest Service. Really, it is mostly due to the significant underfunding of road maintenance needs nationally on the Forest Service road system.

Winter Logging

The months of December, January and February are very important to sawmills trying to get their winter decks of logs in before the rains and wet conditions of spring arrives. These months of winter logging provide sub-freezing temperatures that allows loggers to operate over frozen ground conditions in the forests and remove the timber with little damage to the soil and to the roads they are driving on.

The Worst Type of Government Waste

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) compliance is typically the most costly part of implementing any type of vegetation management project on federally managed land. Documents exceeding 200 pages are commonplace to comply with NEPA.

The U.S. Forest Service and the “T” Word

For many years, the Forest Service took this first step in a straightforward and tacit manner: they knew what their objectives were and they listed them in no particular order. Over the past few years I have noticed a change.

What I Learned in Court

Last week, I was at the Federal Courthouse in Eugene to observe oral arguments of a legal challenge to one of those projects. Within minutes of walking into the courtroom, I was struck by the irony of the exercise.