WOPR Finalized, AFRC challenges

By American Forest Research Council,
AFRC News 1/13/09,

On December 31, the Records of Decision (RODs) for the BLM¡¦s Western Oregon Plan Revision (WOPR) were signed by Steven Allred, Assistant Secretary of Interior Lands and Minerals. This was the final step to implement the WOPR, which has taken five years to complete. Allred sent a letter to Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski stating that since the points the Governor outlined in his review of the WOPR were not inconsistent with state laws, his request to reopen the comment period was not warranted. Therefore, the agency was able to proceed with signing the ROD. Since it was signed by the Assistant Secretary administrative appeals cannot be filed.

The BLM did allow a protest period which ended December 8 and all 264 protests were disposed of by December 31.

Now that the ROD has been signed, the planning work for the BLM is complete. It will remain to be seen how the new Obama Administration will begin ramping up funding for the BLM to help implement the new resource management plans. Copies of the letters and other documents can be found at http://www.blm.gov/or/plans/wopr/— Written by Tom Partin AFRC

Challenges WOPR On January 2

AFRC filed a lawsuit in the District Court of District of Columbia challenging that the WOPR fails to fulfill the requirements of the O&C Act, which governs 2.1 million of the 2.6 million acres covered by the plan. Under the O&C Act, the lands are to be managed ¡§for permanent timber production¡¨ using sustained yield to provide ¡§a permanent source of timber supply. . .and contribut[e] to the economic stability of local communities and industries.¡¨ AFRC contends the WOPR fails to meet those requirements because:

–  the annual productive capacity of the lands was not determined.

– allowing a maximum cut of 502 million board feet of the 1.2 billion board foot annual growth is not sustained yield.

– only 32 percent of the land base is made available for timber production.

– 22 percent of the land base is allocated to non-timber producing Late Successional Reserves and 9 percent to Riparian Management Areas.

– acreage is withdrawn for ¡§special status sensitive species.¡¨

– timber harvest is deferred for 15 years on 7 percent of the land base.

The lawsuit asks the court to require the BLM to determine the annual sustained yield capacity of the O&C lands; to sell, cut and remove timber on all O&C lands under sustained yield principles; and to place all the O&C lands in sustained yield timber management. In the meantime, the BLM will be allowed to proceed with implementation of the plan.  — Written by Ann Forest Burns

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