Flat Country Is Not The Only Problem In The Forest

Thanks for your coverage of logging on the Willamette National Forest in “Flattening a Forest” (EW 5/13). It’s great to see prominent forest scientists like Norm Johnson and Jerry Franklin and their self-proclaimed devotee Congressman Peter DeFazio taking a stand in the ongoing and unfortunate debate about whether or not mature and old-growth public forest lands should be logged.

The article captures several reasons logging like this is so damaging, such as older forests’ importance for water, wildlife and recreation, and for mitigating climate change. And while Johnson is quoted as saying that the Flat Country project is one of the USFS’s largest in many years, unfortunately, that’s not quite true.

The forests under threat of logging here in the headwaters of the McKenzie River are, sadly, just a drop in the bucket of what’s planned and possible on our public forest lands. A recent report (bit.ly/forestclimate2021) highlighted a dozen similar logging projects in the Pacific Northwest and Southeast Alaska, and the reasons why such forests should instead be protected.

Specifically, in this moment when the global climate crisis pushes us into another year of drought, record high temperatures and a crash in biodiversity, the forests here in our backyard could be part of a natural climate solution. Instead, public agencies are doubling down on actions that ignore climate science. We need our elected officials like Rep. DeFazio to continue their vocal opposition to such logging, and to help to pivot U.S. forest management in a better direction.

Chandra LeGue