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Conservation Director Veronica Warnock Responds to Inaccurate Editorial

Editorial mistakenly compared two timber sales

A recent editorial in the Baker City Hearld, “Reviving a forest project,” Sept. 6, 2017, states that environmental groups oppose the Sparta project and ones like it because they include commercial logging. Both statements are patently untrue.

The Greater Hells Canyon Council (formally Hells Canyon Preservation Council) did not oppose the Sparta project. In fact, we are actively working with industry, local communities and other interests in our local forest collaboratives and elsewhere to help design projects that improve forest health and support local communities.

We have been able to do so on the East Face project on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest and the Thomas Creek and Kahler projects on the Umatilla National Forest. These projects include significant amounts of commercial logging but they are also designed with important protections for forests, wildlife, and waters.

We did object to, and successfully litigate, the Snow Basin project because it removed commercial product from the woods at the expense of forest health, fire resiliency and wildlife. In that regard, the Sparta and Snow Basin projects are as different as night and day. The planning areas for both are located in the Eagle Creek drainage but the parallels stop there.

Unlike Sparta, the Snow Basin project would have logged over 40,000 large and old growth trees, damaged elk habitat and logged in remote high elevation moist and cold forests. Sparta does not include any of these activities and in fact makes improvements to big game habitat.

By stating that these projects are the same and environmental groups are opposed to both does a disservice to the public discourse around management of our public lands. If we want to solve the problems facing our forests we need to stop pointing fingers and create space for respectful dialogue based on facts.

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