Rally for Green Ridge | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Rally for Green Ridge

Conservation groups call for protection, not logging, of 20,000 acres of forestland near Sisters

Wild Ecosystems Alliance and the Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project are calling for citizens who care about federal lands in Central Oregon to the Rally for Green Ridge Friday, June 28 at the Deschutes National Forest Sisters Ranger District office in Sisters, to protest the Deschutes National Forest's Record of Decision for the planned Green Ridge Landscape Restoration Project.

The project's goal is to "maintain and restore forest conditions closer to the historic range of variability and contribute to the restoration of ecosystem process and function in the planning area," which would allow for logging an estimated 5.25 million board feet of lumber from Green Ridge.

click to enlarge Rally for Green Ridge
Courtesy of Wild Ecosystems Alliance
Green Ridge timber sale.

"We are asking that the Forest Service not move forward with its Draft Decision to cut over 5 million board feet of lumber across the 20,000-acre plus project area," said Susan Prince and Adam Bronstein, co-leaders of Wild Ecosystems Alliance, "home to black bear, elk, mule deer, red fox, marten, spotted owl and now gray wolves, who are particularly vulnerable as they try to get a pack established. We should be protectors and guardians of this special place, not home wreckers and destroyers of worlds." Both the northern spotted owl and the gray wolf are federally protected under the Endangered Species Act.

"We acknowledge and understand that portions of Green Ridge have been previously logged and have experienced unnatural disturbances, but further logging and road building is a step in the wrong direction," said Bronstein. "The Forest Service rationale is restoration, fire resiliency, forest health, etc. All these objectives would be best met by leaving the area alone, and there are some limited interventions that are probably worthwhile to reset some natural processes, but we must begin trusting in nature once again."

In addition, the groups argue that the Forest Service is using confusing language and arbitrary standards — especially for retaining large trees across the project area; hence, old growth trees are at risk of being logged. People representing numerous groups, including Oregon Wild, Central Oregon LandWatch and the Friends of the Metolius submitted objections to the project during its comment period.

click to enlarge Rally for Green Ridge
Courtesy of Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project
Green Ridge Spring.

The Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project is a small grassroots organization that has been active in Eastern Oregon since 1991. The heart of its work is field surveying, using the information collected in the field to challenge ecologically impactful logging in timber sales, such as the Green Ridge sale.

"Our staff and volunteers extensively surveyed the proposed logging units in the Green Ridge timber sale," said Paula Hood, co-director of the Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project. "The area encompasses ecologically unique and valuable habitats, including habitats crucial for wildlife in the area. We are extremely concerned that forests, streams and water quality will be severely degraded by the proposed logging in this sale." BMBP also has urged the Forest Service to withdraw the project.

The Forest Service maintains that the project, seven years in the process, will have some short-term impacts but that no old-growth trees or riparian areas will be logged. Also in the plan, the Forest Service will decommission old roads and close others.

click to enlarge Rally for Green Ridge
Courtesy of Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project
Large mature incense cedar with fire scars.

"While we oppose the project as it is currently conceived, we are advocating for a first-of-its-kind rewilding project here. The Metolius Basin is the perfect place to carry out this concept," said Prince. "We need a new way of forest management going forward here on Green Ridge and elsewhere in order to meet the ambitious conservation targets that have been laid out under 30x30 and 50x50, and to keep our communities safe from wildfire."

In recent years, scientists, including some at Oregon State University, have called for creating strategic forest reserves to mitigate the effects of climate change. In one 2021 story from OSU, 30x30 and 50x50 are described as, "multiple nations have pledged to meet goals commonly known as 30x30 and 50x50; the former calls for protecting 30% of land and water areas globally by 2030, the latter 50% by 2050. Hitting the 50x50 target is widely viewed as necessary for ensuring the Earth's biodiversity, the researchers say."

The June 28 event takes place from 11am to 2pm.
Rally for Green Ridge
June 28, 2024; 11am-2pm
Sisters Ranger District office
201 N. Pine St., Sisters

Damian Fagan

Damian Fagan is a freelance writer, outdoor enthusiast and avid birder. He is the author of several wildflower field guides including "Wildflowers of Oregon" and "Wildflowers of North America." Fagan lives in Bend with his wife, Raven, and a pollinator-friendly garden.
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