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. In 2015 the Roseburg District of the Bureau of Land Management completed one such analysis called Olalla-Camus. This analysis focused on treatments designed to fulfil the BLM’s O&C mandate to provide a sustained production of timber on lands allocated for such production as directed by their 1994 Resource Management Plan. Like all NEPA documents completed by federal agencies attempting to conduct active forest management and timber harvest, Olalla-Camus included an in-depth analysis on everything from wildlife habitat to carbon storage and beyond. The timber sales analyzed under this document were estimated to provide about 16 MMBF of timber.
Next month the BLM will be offering the only timber sale generated off the Olalla-Camus EA for a total of 6.7 MMBF. The remaining 10 MMBF considered in this EA will never be implemented. This is due to the BLM’s new management plan completed in 2016, inconveniently finalized between the publication of the Olalla-Camus EA and the planned implementation of the treatments it considered. Like the 1994 RMP, the 2016 RMP set aside many acres where sustained timber production cannot occur. The only difference is that these “set-aside” acres grew exponentially. Part of this “growth” includes the majority of the land included in the Olalla-Camus EA. The BLM could have included a “grandfather clause” that would allow projects conceived and analyzed under the old management plan to move forward, but they didn’t. The unfortunate result is the worst type of government waste-investments consuming large sums of money and time being squandered. -Andy Geissler