Editor’s Note: It is difficult to keep up with all the conservation news, new threats, and new action alerts that come to my inbox. I’ve chose a few to highlight recent happenings here in the West. There are many talented and dedicated individuals who work hard to inform us of these issues. Please take some time to read their work. LKH
The fire is nearly out. Now what?
Over 48,000 acres of our spectacular Columbia River Gorge burned in September. I drove out this past weekend through miles of somber ridges and slopes that were solid black from the highway to the highest ridge. What to do? The House of Representatives has passed a salvage logging bill that would significantly loosen environmental rules in forests hit by wildfire. According to scientists and pre-eminent Gorge advocates from Friends of the Columbia Gorge, this bill will further harm forests like those that line our Gorge. Friends emphasize that, “Salvage logging is completely inappropriate for the Columbia Gorge. If passed, the Walden clear-cut bill would mandate commercial logging in areas impacted by the Eagle Creek fire and require the Forest Service to develop plans to log the Gorge without environmental review, short-circuiting public involvement and limiting legal challenges. This is unacceptable.” https://gorgefriends.org/protect-the-gorge/walden-clear-cut-bill.html
More fires! Fire as friend in the Umpqua National Forest
North Umpqua worshipers may have had their travel plans dashed when two large fires converged and closed the river and highway for weeks in September. Again, salvage logging and road building is proposed to “manage” the forest to reduce the impacts of future wildfires. In the most recent issue of the Steamboat Whistle newsletter, local resident, naturalist, and friend, Karl Konecny explains the ecologic benefits of wildfire and the harms of salvage logging as a management strategy in our forests.
North Umpqua Complex Fire by Karl Konecny
Wild Willamette winter steelhead at the edge of the ESA cliff
As Congress considers revising the Marine Mammal Protection Act to allow killing of California sea lions that are devouring Pacific salmon and steelhead in our river systems, the Native Fish Society points out that the sea lions are not the only culprits. NFS River Steward Program Director Conrad Gowell presents a comprehensive review of the myriad threats to the Willamette’s wild winter steelhead populations.
Alaska Pebble Mine proposal rears its ugly head yet again
Just when we thought the disastrous Pebble Mine proposed in critical salmon spawning headwaters above Bristol Bay was on its last breath, the Environmental Protection Agency reversed its prior ruling that the mine “would irretrievably damage multiple Bristol Bay rivers and place at risk the world's most productive salmon region.” The fight goes to the next round as locals, fishermen, and conservation groups are outraged. The Conservation Angler https://theconservationangler.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/tca-comments-on-pebble-proposed-determination-docket-id-no-epa-r10-ow-2017-0369.pdf and Wild Salmon Center https://www.wildsalmoncenter.org/2017/10/26/said-leave-bristol-bay-intact/ are among groups who took yet another stand against this atrocious proposal.
Down on the SE range – Some good news of the feathered variety
Friends of Malheur Refuge was awarded a National Fish and Wildlife grant that will help fund a new Nature Center and Cranes' Nest Nature Store. The new center will serve as a point of contact for refuge visitors, providing up-to-date wildlife sightings as well as a space for multimedia presentations and environmental education programs. The Friends of Malheur have plans to install two eBird Trail Tracker systems that will allow refuge visitors to access data on bird sightings around the refuge and other Harney County hotspots. Birdwatchers can use the tracker to record their own sightings as well. The eBird's system provides an online database that allows uses to learn where birds are being reported across North America. If you are a birder, you may want to donate to the cause http://www.malheurfriends.org/donate.html.