PORTLAND, OR—Old growth forest around Oregon’s only national park could be on the chopping block next month. That’s why statewide advocacy group Environment Oregon delivered 12,000 petitions to US Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden today in support of a proposal to designate nearly half-a-million acres in and around Crater Lake National Park as a federal Wilderness area.
The delivery coincides with the public comment period for the proposed Bybee Timber Sale, a logging project that would effectively clear cut old growth forest on the edge of Oregon’s only National Park.
“We can’t let logging companies trample pristine wilderness and cause irreparable harm to Crater Lake’s delicate ecosystem just for short term profits,” said Charlie Fisher, Environment Oregon Field Organizer, “Oregonians agree: our leaders should protect this treasured place from ongoing threats.”
Crater Lake and the old growth forests surrounding it are home to some of Oregon’s most iconic species like Roosevelt elk, black bears, and bald eagles. The proposed wilderness area also contains the headwaters of the Rogue, Umpqua, and Deschutes rivers. If the Bybee Timber Sale goes forward, logging companies will destroy critical wildlife habitat, logging over 3,600 acres and bulldozing 12 miles of new roads in “wilderness quality” forest. This proposal, located in the Rogue-Siskiyou National Forest, specifically threatens the headwaters to the Rogue River—a place important to spawning salmon.
Wilderness designation—which requires Congress to pass a bill—would protect the area from reckless proposals like Bybee.
“Oregonians need to know that they can comment on this bad proposal now,” Fisher said. “And longterm, we want our leaders in Congress to know wilderness protection will keep this special area safe for future generations.”
The delivery today was the kickoff of a campaign by Environment Oregon, Oregon Wild, KS Wild, and other groups to deliver thousands of public comments in opposition to the National Forest Service proposal .
The public can submit comment on the “Bybee Vegetation Management Project” until February 28, 2013 here: firstname.lastname@example.org , or visit Environment Oregon's action center here.