Sunday, March 8, 2009

March Conservation Meeting and Current Issues

This month's March Conservation Executive Committee meeting will be at 7 pm, Wednesday, March 18th. This meeting is open to all, newcomers welcome! If you are interested in finding out more about what you can do to help preserve the environment, halt global warming, protect endangered species, and so forth, please join us.

The committee is working on several issues related to sustainable forestry practices, climate change, and the potential ecological and physical hazards that may accompany the opening up of National Parks trails to mountain bikes. See below for details.

• Forest Coalition Meeting: The Forest Group discussed a recent proposal by U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore. According to his website, “The Wyden proposal, called the Oregon Forest Restoration and Old Growth Protection Act, halts cutting of trees currently 120 years old and older in moist forests and 150 years old or older in dry forests, prohibits clear-cutting and cutting in inventoried roadless areas, and requires the Forest Service and BLM in Oregon to re-direct their management activities to addressing fire and insect risk, protecting environmentally-sensitive and significant lands, and promoting sustainable, ecologically-sound production of wood fiber in a way that produces many more good-paying jobs while living up to the original promise of the Northwest Forest Plan. “

However, this plan proposes an increase in board feet output volume while demand for timber products is low, puts politics ahead of science-based forest management, and separates Oregon out from states with similar forest environments such as Washington and northern California, which also contain habitats for some of the same keystone species, such as the spotted owl. The loss of a “keystone species” can have a dramatically negative impact on the surrounding ecosystem, just as the loss of a keystone from an arch causes it to collapse.

• Coal-fired power plants: Ed Henderson and Jim Adcock have taken responsibility for drafting a policy letter on coal-fired power plants before Lobby Day. A bill for greenhouse gases is currently up for debate which would establish a permit process, or cap and trade, for industries that emit greenhouse gases.

• Fire Suppression Policy: Some members of the committee are working on developing a policy position on fire suppression on public lands.

• Use of Mountain Bikes in National Parks: Reed Jarvis, Pacific Northwest Region Chief Ranger (Retired), gave a presentation on the potential environmental and physical hazards of a recent proposed change from the Department of the Interior which would allow mountain bikes on the same National Parks trails used by hikers.

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