O&C counties in Oregon planning suit against BLM

OandC-lands-sign

Reports Wikipedia:  The Bureau of Land Management now manages timber on more than two million acres of land in Oregon that formerly belonged to the O&C Railroad (PHOTO CREDIT:  Public Lands & Natural Resources Association of Oregon Counties via Wikimedia Commons)

Editor’s comment:  This report, authored by Jane Stebbins and published in the CURRY COSTAL PILOT on Feb 16th, explores the prospects and problems associated with forested counties attempting to bring their grievances against BLM into the courts.  For one, the $530,000 legal expense is notable.  And perhaps the magnitude of that same expense speaks volumes about how frustrated these counties have become with federal land management practices.

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One Response to O&C counties in Oregon planning suit against BLM

  1. 2ndLaw says:

    The counties will lose this lawsuit like they have all the others. The courts have adopted the view summarized in the Northwest Forest Plan

    “[The O&C Act] requires that management of O&C lands protect watersheds, regulate streamflow, provide for recreational facilities, and contribute to the economic stability of local communities and industries. The Act does not require the Secretary to harvest all old-growth timber or all commercial timber as rapidly as possible or according to any particular schedule. The Secretary has discretion to determine how to manage the forest on a sustained-yield basis that provides for permanency of timber production over a long-term period. …O&C lands must also be managed in accordance with other environmental laws such as the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water Act. Some provisions of these laws take precedence over the O&C Lands Act. … One of the purposes of the Endangered Species Act is the preservation of ecosystems upon which endangered and threatened species depend. A forward-looking land management policy would require that federal lands be managed in a way to minimize the need to list species under the ESA. Additional species listings could have the effect of further limiting the O&C Lands Act’s goal of achieving and maintaining permanent forest production. This would contribute to the economic instability of local communities and industries, in contravention of a primary objective of Congress in enacting the O&C Lands Act. That Act does not limit the Secretary’s ability to take steps now that would avoid future listings and additional disruptions. Protection of watersheds and regulating streamflow are explicit purposes of forest production under the O&C Lands Act. Riparian reserves, including those established on O&C lands by this decision, are designed to restore and maintain aquatic ecosystem functions. Together with other components of the aquatic conservation strategy, riparian reserves will provide substantial watershed protection benefits. Riparian reserves will also help attain and maintain water quality standards, a fundamental aspect of watershed protection. Both riparian reserves and latesuccessional reserves will help regulate streamflows, thus moderating peak streamflows and attendant adverse impacts to watersheds.”

    Bottom line, BLM has discretion. The counties can’t force BLM to log more.

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