National News

Oregon lawmaker calls for sweeping forest management reforms after Eagle Creek Fire

Posted September 26

— As the work begins to assess the damage done to the Columbia River Gorge by the Eagle Creek Fire, conversations are beginning about what should be done to repair that damage.

Recently, U.S. Representative Greg Walden, whose district includes the Gorge, has called for sweeping reforms to the way public forests are managed.

In September, Walden introduced House Resolution 3715, which calls for fast-tracked salvage logging in the burned areas of the Gorge, with the idea of removing burned and damaged trees and quickly replanting the area afterward.

"Year after year after year after year we have these catastrophic wildfires on federal lands, some of which have been set aside and managed in a way that they have no management," said Walden while speaking on the House floor.

Walden's proposal would require no public input or environmental reviews on logging projects smaller than 10,000 acres, and would prohibit legal action to stop logging activity in those cases, two issues that have drawn sharp criticism from conservation groups.

"Salvage logging has no place in the Columbia River Gorge at all," said Michael Lang, conservation director for Friends of the Columbia Gorge. "It increases slope instability, it compacts the soil. It introduces invasive species, and it makes a more fire-prone forest."

Recent studies have suggested salvage logging has the potential to do more harm than good, but a 2017 study by the Forest Service in California concluded salvage logging had both little impact on the forest's recovery, and little impact on vegetation.

Walden believes more management of public forests could reduce the impacts of catastrophic fires.


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