The Nedsbar Timber Sale
The Nedsbar Timber Sale is located in the Upper and Little Applegate Valleys on public lands administered by the Medford District BLM. The BLM has proposed a large, landscape scale timber sale focused on producing timber for private industry. The proposed timber sale includes over 70 units spread across thousands of acres of public land, including the Dakubetede Roadless Area, the proposed Dakubetede Primitive Area, and an important connectivity corridor connecting the foothills of the Applegate Valley and the Siskiyou Crest. The forests proposed for logging include some of the driest forest habitat in Oregon, west of the Cascade Mountains. They also include important late-seral habitat for species such as the Pacific fisher and northern spotted owl, as well as the threatened coho salmon.
The Nedsbar Timber Sale was developed by the Medford District BLM in response to a Swanson-Superior Lumber Co. Lawsuit in U.S. District Court. The court decision required the BLM to increase timber production in Southern Oregon on Medford and Roseburg District lands. This decision has since been struck down by the U.S. Court of Appeals and is now null and void.
The Nedsbar Project Area lies within an important connectivity corridor linking the Rogue Valley to the Applegate Valley, and the Siskiyou Crest to the Marble Mountains Wilderness and the vast wildland habitat in the Klamath Mountains south of the Klamath River. The area provides a low elevation corridor that links with the high elevation land bridge of the Siskiyou Crest. The connectivity provided by the Little and Upper Applegate Valleys has been identified in the Applegate Adaptive Management Area Ecosystem Health Assessment published by the BLM and Forest Service in 1994. The area should be protected from regeneration logging and heavy commercial thinning that severely impacts canopy coverage, structural complexity, fire resilience, and the habitat provided by large, old trees.
Unfortunately, the design, unit selection and development of the proposed action for the Nedsbar Timber Sale is heavily influenced by the now invalid Swanson-Superior court ruling. The now overturned court decision was interpreted by BLM to require aggressive and unsustainable timber production in the driest, most fire-prone watershed west of Oregon’s Cascade Mountains. The agency had originally included nearly all-available timber in the Little Applegate area, to satisfy the demands of the Swanson-Superior lawsuit.
The original Nedsbar Timber Sale proposal included “structural retention regeneration harvest” units — another name for clear-cut logging. This technique has not been used in recent years on federal lands in the Applegate watershed because it significantly increases fire hazards, and because it is extremely difficult to adequately “regenerate” conifer stands in the harsh climate and terrain found here in the rain shadow of the Siskiyou Crest. The BLM also proposed logging in important Northern spotted owl habitat, in late-seral and old-growth stands, and in roadless wildlands.
In response to the Nedsbar Timber Sale local community members have both protested the sale and engaged in collaboration with the BLM to come up with a better project design. Many community led field trips have engaged the local community to respond. Extensive on-the-ground monitoring was done by the Siskiyou Crest Blog to field check timber sale units and find out what the project truly entails. This fieldwork provided vital information to area residents and activists who were creating an ecologically based alternative to the Nedsbar Timber Sale, called the Nedsbar Community Alternative. This proposal would maintain all northern spotted owl habitat, reduce fuels, encourage forest health, eliminate all proposed new road construction, and institute a 20” diameter limit to protect large, old trees within the project area.
The BLM has agreed to analyze the Nedsbar Community Alternative in the upcoming Nedsbar Environmental Analysis (due out April 15, 2016), along with the BLM’s proposed action, Alternative 4. To be clear, they have agreed to analyze the Community Alternative, not to actually choose this ecologically and economically viable option. Despite strong community support for the Community Alternative, the BLM is currently designing a “proposed action” (Alternative 4) that includes many miles of new road construction and a large number of roadless, late-seral, or old-growth logging units.
Update: The BLM released a Decision Record for the Nedsbar Timber Sale on September 1, 2016, approving a slightly modified Alternative 4. The BLM failed to incorporate community concerns, refusing to implement any of the reasonable scientific recommendations of the Community Alternative. The agency intended to auction some of the last roadless forests in the Applegate Valley to the highest bidder.
ANN submitted an administrative protest letter along with other residents and conservation partners. Residents in the Applegate Valley organized a large rally at the timber auction opposing the Nedsbar Timber Sale. Roughly 75 residents assembled at the Medford District BLM office denouncing the sale.
That day at auction, the Nedsbar Timber Sale did not sell, failing to receive even a single bid. The BLM is now in the process of “reworking” the sale to make it more economical. ANN is working to advocate for conservation and community values. We advocate that BLM implements the Community Alternative, Alternative 5.