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Closing The Forest To Protesters?

The Bureau of Land Management has issued a “finding of no significant impact” on its order to close the White Castle timber sale to public access, but the protesters currently occupying the trees in opposition to the planned logging project beg to differ. They say cutting the native trees hurts the ecosystem and doesn’t solve the root problems of lack of money for counties and a lack of jobs. A comment period on the closure ends Aug. 30.

White Castle is a pilot project outside of Roseburg on the O&C lands that are the current focus of a controversial bill in Congress that would split the lands into a timber trust and a conservation trust.

Forest scientists call White Castle a “variable retention harvest” and say logging there will create early seral habitat, with bushes, forbs and hardwoods, and help the wildlife that depends on them. Early seral habitat is lacking in Oregon due to industrial logging and herbicide spraying after trees are cut, according to OSU professor Norm Johnson, who came up with White Castle and other O&C pilot projects together with Jerry Franklin of the University of Washington.

The Cascadia Forest Defenders call White Castle a clearcut and have had a treesit blocking logging in the area for more than two months. 

The closure order would be for up to 24 months, according to BLM documents, and would affect 2,167 acres. Its goal is to “minimize user conflicts during implementation of the White Castle Variable Retention Harvest Project,” the documents say, which would involve ending the treesit.

Ben Jones of Cascadia Forest Defenders says the group is “preventing any destruction of this ecosystem and we intend to be there until the sale is dropped.” Jones says the treesit is popular in nearby Myrtle Creek because residents are “concerned about watershed and are not buying the industry part.” He says timber companies try to get richer by attempting to convince the people they oppress that the logging is to their benefit when those people are not actually getting any jobs.

To comment on the closure order go to wkly.ws/1j6 or write Steve Lydick at Roseburg District, Bureau of Land Management, 777 NW Garden Valley Blvd., Roseburg, OR, 97471.