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Collaboration? The BLM Ignores Public Input and Moves Forward with Nedsbar Despite Near Unanimous Disapproval

Many Applegate Valley community members participated in the planning process for the Nedsbar Timber Sale. Based on a review of pubic comments received by the BLM, it appears that the vast majority of the local community is opposed to the Nedsbar Timber Sale as it has been approved.

99% Oppose the Nedsbar Timber Sale

In the recent Decision Record for the Nedsbar Timber Sale released by the Medford District BLM, the agency approved Alternative 4 with only slight modifications. Alternative 4 is the sweetheart deal for the timber industry, but has been strongly opposed for over two years by residents in the Applegate Valley community. The project demonstrates the BLM’s lack of collaborative capacity and inability to incorporate community concerns into public land management projects. Still stuck in the past, Medford BLM is refusing to move forward with us into a collaborative, more ecologically sustainable future.

The Nedsbar Timber Sale was proposed in the Applegate Adaptive Management Area (AMA), where innovative forestry and significant public involvement and collaboration is mandated under the Northwest Forest Plan. The AMA was designated in 1994 to promote experimental, ecologically based forestry rooted in community values — it is a much-loved component of Applegate culture. 

In the spirit of collaboration and innovation, residents in the Applegate Valley community developed the Community Alternative, an alternative to the Nedsbar Timber Sale, that the BLM agreed to analyze as Alternative 5 in the Nedsbar Timber Sale Environmental Analysis. The community invested thousands of hours in the “collaborative” process to develop the Community Alternative; unfortunately, our concerns and desires feel upon deaf ears. 

Despite a claim to have incorporated community concerns into the final decision, the BLM moved forward with the highly controversial Alternative 4 and failed to incorporate or even meaningfully analyze the many ecological, economical, and community based concerns documented by the Applegate community. Although the agency claims to have “blended” Alternatives 4 and 5, not a shred of the Community Alternative can be found in the Decision Record. The community has opposed new road construction, roadless area logging, the removal of large fire resistant trees, excessive impacts to the northern spotted owl and the increase in fire risks associated with the levels of canopy reduction proposed by the BLM. Unfortunately, the BLM approved all of these things in the decision record and is moving forward with near unanimous disapproval in the Applegate community.

The decision demonstrates the futile nature of collaboration with unaccountable, unresponsive, and irresponsible public agencies like the Medford District BLM, who hold our community values in contempt and exclusively serve the interests of the timber industry. Our public BLM lands are being offered up to the highest bidder while the public is offered only token gestures, hollow words and grave environmental, economic and social impacts. The countless volunteer hours and thoughtful public input has been cast aside and our valid concerns disregarded while the agency panders to the demands of the industry to maximize timber production. 

Residents opposed to the Nedsbar Timber Sale on a BLM field trip.

After asking the BLM to openly disclose the public comments regarding the Nedsbar Timber Sale — as many land management agencies do — instead of doing the collaborative thing and releasing the comments, Medford BLM told me I had to FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) the records, which I did. The results from my review of these comments are not surprising, but are altogether unjust, undemocratic and inexcusable. 

The agency received 426 public comments on the Nedsbar Timber Sale Environmental Assessment. A full 99% of these comments (423) were submitted by public citizens that supported the Community Alternative (Alt. 5) and opposed Alternative 4. One other comment was received that did not specifically support of the Community Alternative, but did support many of its basic tenets including a diameter limit, no regeneration logging and cancellation of all units on Bald Mountain. A total of two letters were submitted to the BLM in support of the Selected Alternative (Alt. 4), one from a private citizen and one from the American Forest Resource Council (AFRC), a timber industry lobby group. When compared to the Selected Alternative, the Community Alternative was supported at a rate of over 210 to 1. 

Many Applegate residents took the time to write lengthy, detailed, and site-specific comments rooted in place-based knowledge, science and a collaborative spirit. In comparison, AFRC wrote a total of five pages of public comment, without any site-specific knowledge, but the BLM gave these brief comments from the timber industry lobby group more consideration than those of the local residents.

Instead of working collaboratively with the community, the BLM chose to serve the interests of the industry, fan the flames of controversy and prove themselves incapable of representing the needs of the local people. The Nedsbar Timber Sale should be withdrawn. Logging this sale as it is approved will impact important public resources and harm the future of collaboration in the Applegate Valley.

Please contact the following public official and ask them to withdraw the Nedsbar Timber Sale and commit to the economically sustainable, ecologically appropriate and community based form of land management mandated in the Applegate AMA. 

Secretary of Interior, Sally Jewel

State BLM Director, Ron Dutton

Senator Ron Wyden

Senator Jeff Merkely

Senator Kevin Talbert

Join us on Thursday September 22, 2016 8:00 AM at the Medford BLM Office (3040 Biddle Road, Medford, Oregon) for a rally to Stop Nedsbar! 

The BLM will be auctioning off our beloved forests and the community will be there supporting the wildlands of the Applegate Valley.