Oregon Land Board approves new management plan to increase harvests in Elliott State Forest; two years of surveys for threatened species now required before logging

NEW YORK , October 12, 2011 () – Top state officials voted in Salem on Tuesday to approve a new way of protecting threatened species such as salmon and spotted owls on the Elliott State Forest so that they can increase timber harvests and provide a little more money to schools.

The State Land Board — made up of the governor, state treasurer and secretary of state — unanimously adopted the new management plan, which has been a decade in the making.

The idea of changing the management plan for the forest goes back about 10 years, when forest managers could not get federal approval for proposed changes to a system of protecting habitat for fish and wildlife. The old plan set aside fish and wildlife habitat from logging. The new plan adopts a system known as “take avoidance,” used by private timberland owners. It calls for two years of surveys for threatened species before a piece of land can be logged.

Bob Ragon of the Douglas Timber Operators said they were happy with the decision, which he estimated would generate about 120 new timber jobs, as well as more money for schools.

“We still think this is a very conservative harvest level in the new plan,” Ragon said. “We are pleased the Land Board is supporting it. It has been a long time bird-dogging this thing.

“Now, we can get on with managing the forests for a while.”

Kate Ritley of Cascadia Wildlands stood outside the meeting with about 150 protesters. She said the conservation group will be filing a lawsuit and organizing protests to block the logging.

“It’s a huge step backwards for Oregon, a state that claims to be green and claims to be taking steps to confront the climate crisis,” Ritley said.

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