Elliott for all; Missed connections; Logging in monuments?

HCN.org news in brief.

 

ELLIOTT FOREST STAYS PUBLIC
In a surprise decision, Oregon decided in May to keep its oldest state forest instead of selling it off. The Elliott State Forest is 82,500 acres of coastal trees and streams, which provide hunting, hiking and fishing access, timber revenue for Oregon’s schools and habitat for threatened species. In 2015, the State Land Board voted to sell the Elliott because its coho salmon, spotted northern owl and marbled murrelets made it difficult to manage, and lawsuits plus maintenance costs were resulting in millions in financial loss. Last November, Lone Rock Timber Co. and the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians put in a joint offer to buy it. After public pressure, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, D, put forward a habitat plan and $100 million in bonds to save the forest from privatization and increased logging. Conservationists celebrated the move as a victory for public lands.
-Anna V. Smith

Hikers in the Elliott State Forest, the oldest in Oregon, which won’t be sold after all.
Joe Riedl

79,000: Amount, in tons, of non-Defense Department-related high-level nuclear waste temporarily stored at 121 sites around the nation.

9,000: Portion of that waste, in tons, that exceeds the capacity of Yucca Mountain, the only site planned for permanent storage of such waste.

President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget request includes $120 million to revive Yucca Mountain, the project to permanently store high-level nuclear waste underground about 90 miles from Las Vegas. Draft legislation recently introduced in a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee would restart licensing for the controversial project, which former President Barack Obama defunded in 2012. Yucca’s opponents have cited concerns including transportation risks, groundwater contamination, and earthquake activity. Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, R, and the state’s congressional delegation oppose the draft bill, which would allow the federal government to override the state on air and water permitting.
-Rebecca Worby

MISSED CONNECTIONS
In parts of the West, spring has come three weeks early. This follows a growing trend. From 1950 to 2005, spring shifted about eight days earlier in the Western United States, due to climate change. Ecological systems exist because many different species — pollinators and flowers, for example — have evolved to follow the same seasonal schedule, behaving in synchrony. Now, with climate change, some of those systems are unraveling — and this spring’s early arrival is a sign of more asynchrony to come.
-Maya L. Kapoor

 

"Couple the Trump ‘deconstruction’ philosophy with a growing pack of lawmakers who want to hand federal land over to state and local interests and the stage is set to re-litigate the laws and policies that have guided public land for half a century."

—Jim Lyons, an undersecretary in the Department of the Interior during the Clinton and Obama administrations, in his analysis “Could Trump dismantle the American West?”

 

The Ahtanum Hand Crew rests after completing the line around a fire in Anacortes, Washington.
Jasper Gibson

FAST-RESPONSE FIRE CREW
Time is of the essence for wildland firefighters. Washington’s Helitack crew departs by helicopter within just five minutes of the report of a fire. The state’s Helitack program started in the 1960s, with helicopters able to hold just 50 gallons of water to dump on fires. But today’s helicopters drop hundreds of gallons at a time, while firefighters work amid flames and gusts of wind. 

Helicopter pilot Kenny Stewart and helicopter manager Ben Teske make radio contact with ground forces on the way to a fire.
Jasper Gibson

LOGGING IN MONUMENTS
Former President Barack Obama expanded Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. Scientists argued that population pressures, adjacent land uses and climate trends made the initial boundaries inadequate. But recently, Oregon’s timber lobby sued, arguing that the expansion is unlawful because some lands fall under the Oregon and California Lands Act of 1937, and hence are not protected under the Antiquities Act. “This argument is critically flawed,” Michael C. Blumm writes in an opinion column. “The federal government has sufficient discretion to manage these lands for multiple purposes — not just timber production.”

You say

Charlie Lawton: “A lot of the arguments for logging are predicated on the assumption that selective logging is necessary to control wildfire. … Fuels are lower in moisture due to shifted precipitation regimes and higher average temperatures; human-caused fires (negligence, arson and accidents) are more common.”

Tim Baker: “We can certainly debate what sustained yield should mean today as compared to 1937. In the context of ecosystem management, it generally means much lower rates of timber harvesting.”

Rose Comstock: “Monument status does not allow forest management. … National forests should be excluded from any part of monuments.”

High Country News Classifieds
  • STAFF ATTORNEY
    The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA), Utah's largest conservation organization, has an immediate opening in its Salt Lake City office for a staff attorney. SUWA's...
  • DEVELOPMENT & COMMUNICATION SPECIALIST
    Idaho Walk Bike Alliance seeks a lover of bicycling, walking, and all modes of active transportation who willingly puts the car in the garage and...
  • COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR
    Friends of Inyo - the Communications Director is a full-time permanent position that reports to the Executive Director and utilizes communication strategies and production skills...
  • INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS EDITOR
    High Country News seeks an editor to oversee the work of our award-winning Indigenous Affairs Desk. This individual will lead a team of passionate journalists...
  • HIKING TO THE EDGE:
    Confronting Cancer in Rocky Mountain National Park. Poetry and photos on survival thinking. E-book and paperback available at Amazon.com.
  • OPERATIONS MANAGER
    Founded in 1936, the National Wildlife Federation has grown into America's largest and most trusted grassroots conservation organization with 53 state/territorial affiliates and more than...
  • IPLC RIGHTS AND EQUITY PROGRAM ASSOCIATE
    A LITTLE ABOUT US Founded in 1951, the Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FUTURE WEST
    Future West seeks an executive director to lead this dynamic organization into the future. Based in Bozeman, MT this well-respected nonprofit provides communities in the...
  • PART-TIME EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Mitchell Museum of the American Indian Location: Evanston, IL Salary Range: $45,000 @ 24 hours per week. send resume: [email protected] www.mitchellmuseum.org
  • COMMUNICATIONS LEAD
    Southeast Alaska Conservation Council is hiring! Who We Are: The Southeast Alaska Conservation Council (SEACC) is a small grassroots nonprofit based out of Juneau, Alaska,...
  • SENIOR POLICY ADVISOR
    Since 1989, The Nature Conservancy in Alaska has been doing work you can believe in protecting the lands and waters that all life depends on....
  • OUTDOOR PROGRAM - ASSISTANT DIRECTOR
    St. Lawrence University seeks to fill the position of Assistant Director in the Outdoor Program. To view the complete position description, including minimum qualifications required,...
  • PUBLIC LANDS DIRECTOR
    Job Announcement Conserve Southwest Utah is seeking a dedicated advocate for conservation and public lands Public Lands Director a "make a difference" position Conserve Southwest...
  • FOR SALE
    Yellowstone Llamas Successful Yellowstone NP concession Flexible packages
  • DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT & MARKETING
    Grand Staircase Escalante Partners is seeking a full-time Director of Development & Marketing. This is a senior position responsible for the development of all marketing...
  • LEGAL DIRECTOR
    The Legal Director will work closely with the Executive Director in cultivating a renewed vision at NMELC that integrates diversity, equity, and justice. Black, Indigenous,...
  • WE'RE LOOKING FOR LEADERS!
    As we celebrate 50 years of great Western journalism, High Country News is looking for a few new board members to help set a course...
  • WIND RIVER WRITERS AND PHOTOGRAPHERS RETREAT BY THE NATIONAL BIGHORN SHEEP CENTER
    Enhance your writing or photography skills with world-class instructors in the beautiful Wind River Mountains. All skill levels welcome. Continuing education credits available.
  • EARTH CRUISER FX FOR SALE
    Overland Vehicle for travel on or off road. Fully self contained. Less than 41,000 miles. Recently fully serviced Located in Redmond, OR $215'000.
  • ENVIRONMENTAL GEOPHYSICS
    identifies suspect buried trash, tanks, drums &/or utilities and conducts custom-designed subsurface investigations that support post-damage litigation.