- Coast Range Forest Watch is a project of the League of Wilderness Defenders (LOWD)
No upcoming events
On Wednesday, February 4th at 6 pm we will be holding our next monthly public meeting at the North Bend Library. This is an opportunity for anyone in the Coos Bay area to learn more about Coast Range Forest Watch and plug into current projects. We will be discussing: Spring event planning, scouting for our summer 2015 marbled murrelet survey season, and supporting local efforts to stop the Jordon Cove LNG Terminal and Pacific Connector Pipeline.
If you can’t make this meeting time or have ideas for agenda items, please contact us. (Much belated) Happy New Year!
Coast Range Forest Watch
Monday, November 17, 7-9pm
Cozmic Pizza 199 W. 8th Ave, Eugene
Moderated by Camilla Mortensen, Eugene Weekly
Join Cascadia Wildlands, Coast Range Forest Watch, community members and a diverse selection of panelists for a presentation about the Elliott State Forest. The future of the Elliott is at a crossroads, and Oregon’s State Land Board will soon decide its fate–privatize it to be clearcut or preserve it for future generations.
A question and answer session will follow the presentation.
This is a FREE event. The facility is wheelchair accessible.
The State Land Board came to Coos Bay on October 8th to hear public testimony about the Elliott. One message is very clear: keep public lands public!
Short-sighted choices harm forest, public
October 20, 2014
I am writing to address some inaccuracies in Samuel Lee III’s Sept. 27 guest viewpoint, as well as to shed some light on issues relating to the Elliott State Forest.
I volunteer with Coast Range Forest Watch, and we are dedicated to keeping the Elliott public. CRFW is a volunteer group anyone can join. Most of us live and work in Coos County. Some of our volunteers have children and grandchildren in public school here. We are citizens concerned about the futures of schoolchildren as well as the health of our forests.
In order to raise funds for our operational costs, we need a fiscal sponsor registered as a 501(c) 3 nonprofit group. Our fiscal sponsor is the League of Wilderness Defenders (not the League of Forest Defenders, as Lee wrote.) Because it is also volunteer-run, the group’s board membership changes somewhat from year to year, and it doesn’t have a fancy website. It is common practice for small or new organizations to have a fiscal sponsor.
Some CRFW volunteers, myself included, are certified marbled murrelet observers. We attend the same training as contracted surveyors who work for the state Department of Forestry and other managing agencies. This training is provided by Mad River Biologists according to Pacific Seabird Group protocol.
The main difference in our surveys is that we don’t get paid to do them. We have performed more than 100 surveys in the Elliott State Forest, and we often see murrelets without hearing them. They can fly silently.
Marbled murrelets are listed as federally endangered and threatened in Oregon. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services studies indicate a steady decline in murrelet populations throughout Washington, Oregon and California from 2001 to 2013. The combined Alaska and Canada population is around 500,000. However, the combined Washington, Oregon and California population is only about 18,000.
Murrelet nesting requires tree limbs at least 4 inches in diameter, with adequate cover from predators on all sides. A 1995 Forest Service report estimates that, before logging, 1 million to 1.5 million hectares of suitable murrelet habitat existed in Oregon’s Coast Range. Today, there are only around 200,000 hectares. To me, it looks like murrelets need all the help they can get. When it comes to school funding, the children of Oregon were dealt a bad hand from the start — to move forward, the best option for Oregon is to decouple school funding from timber receipts, period.
Most of the Elliott is designated as Common School Land, which, according to the Oregon Constitution, is to be managed to “obtain the greatest benefit for the people of this state, consistent with the conservation of this resource under sound techniques of land management.”
In 1992, this responsibility was condensed to state that the “greatest benefit for the people” condition requires the State Land Board to maximize long-term revenue to the Common School Fund, “within the context of environmentally sound management.” Clear-cutting mature forest stands containing endangered species habitat while neglecting crowded, even-age plantations is not environmentally sound management.
Short-sighted management choices have cost us all: The Department of Forestry and the state violated the Endangered Species Act by failing to protect stands where marbled murrelets nest. Furthermore, the 10-year Implementation Plan that the department is using for the Elliott states that “partial cutting” or “thinning” improves forest health in plantations while producing timber revenue, and that up to 500 acres of the Elliott can be thinned every year.
However, no thinning has been done in the Elliott for a decade. If federally managed forestlands adjacent to the Elliott can produce revenue through almost exclusively thinning, so can the Elliott. Today, 50 percent of Oregon’s total education funding comes from the state. Of that portion, trust land revenues make up about 1.4 percent. The maximum amount the Elliott is expected to generate is about $13 million annually. At most, the Elliott could provide 0.2 percent of the $6.75 billion total spending power for public schools between 2013 and 2015.
While every cent of money for our public schools is important, it’s also important not to exaggerate how much timber receipts from the Elliott actually contribute to schools. The Elliott is more valuable to schoolchildren as an intact, rare forest that provides clean air, water and educational opportunities than as a fraction of a percent of public school funding revenue.
Coast Range Forest Watch is currently meeting with the Department of Forestry, the Department of State Lands and others with vested interests in the Elliott to develop an alternative management strategy that protects endangered species while still benefiting students. Perhaps the “single-minded extremists” Lee was referring to in his column are those who would sacrifice the long-term health of our communities and our access to public lands for meager, short-term profits.
Amanda St. Martin of Coos Bay is a volunteer with Coast Range Forest Watch.
Samuel Lee III’s September 27th Guest Review: http://registerguard.com/rg/opinion/31851814-78/a-bird-thats-not-threatened-is-endangering-our-schools.html.csp
It’s September, which means that marbled murrelet nesting season is over. We wish all of the nesting pairs and juvenile sea birds the best of luck as they relocate to the Pacific Ocean for the winter.
Our volunteers worked hard this season and documented murrelet activity in nine different threatened areas in the Coast Range– mostly on State and Bureau of Land Management land. Twelve volunteers attended a professional training in Northern California to become certified Marbled Murrelet Observers with the Pacific Seabird Group, and collectively we’ve put in over 1,400 volunteer hours since this spring.
Thank you for all of your support; without you this would not have been possible!
Are you interested in getting more involved? Right now the Department of State Lands is considering a number of proposals on the future of the Elliott State Forest including the possibility of privatizing all 92,000 acres of public forest land. The DSL has already sold off land on the Western edge of the forest with no respect for public process. It is time for Coos and Douglas County residents to get together and say “No way!” to privatization in our back yard.
On Thursday, October 2nd, at 6 pm we will be holding our first monthly public meeting. Join us in a discussion about how we can elevate local voices in the fight to save the Elliott State Forest. We’ll be in the small conference room at the North Bend Public Library; coffee and light snacks provided.
On Wednesday, October 8th, from 3-6 pm the State Land Board will visit North Bend to hear public comment on the future of the Elliott State Forest. This is our opportunity to let them know how we feel about privatization in the Elliott. Show up early to sign up for public comment. Your voice counts!
Again, thank you for your support! Stay tuned for updates on the State Land Board and our Annual Fall Mushroom Hike, which will be in the Elliott in late October.