Refusal of Earthjustice, Oregon Wild, Western Environmental Law Center (W.E.L.C.) to Protect Pacific NW Species From Extinction

The Northern Spotted Owl Faces Extinction While Well Funded NW Environmental Groups Refuse to Seek "Endangered" Listing.

"There are fewer than 100 pairs of Northern Spotted Owl left in British Columbia, Canada, 1,200 pairs in Oregon, 560 pairs in Northern California, and 500 pairs in Washington." [3] "Basic Facts About Northern Spotted Owls"Defenders of Wildlife. March 2012. Retrieved February 24, 2016.

One Small Non Profit Files Petition to Have Northern Spotted Owl Listed Endangered
In 2012 a small 501c3 enviro non profit called Environmental Information Protection Center (EPIC) based in Humboldt County, CA filed a petition to have the northern spotted owl listed as "Endangered". The Northern spotted owl has been listed as "Threatened" under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) since 1991. However the number of spotted owls has plummeted by more than 50% over its entire range (Oregon, Washington, and Northern California) in the U.S. since that time. In British Columbia there are active captive breeding programs because the northern spotted owl are on the edge of extirpation in Canada. No other group has filed or sought to up-list the northern spotted owl to "Endangered" since. See Link to U.S. Fish & Wildlife Petition here.

Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), plant and animal species may be listed as either endangered or threatened. 

“Endangered” means a species is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range. 

“Threatened” means a species is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future.

This is the U.S. Fish & Wildlife PDF document describing the difference between species being listed Endangered or Threatened.

Oregon Wild Claims on National CBS News in September 2019 the NW Forest Plan is A "Success" While Northern Spotted Owl and Salmon Runs Across NW Are Driven Into Extinction
Aired on September 21st 2019 Oregon Wild Asserts to the whole nation and world on CBS National News Segment the NW Forest Plan Is A Success While Ignoring the Fact All Listed Species Under the NW Forest Plan Are Being Driven Into Extinction by the Logging of State and Federal Public Lands

Here is the Study here.

The Marbled Murrelet Faces Extinction While National and Northwest Environmental Groups Refuse to File for Federal "Endangered" Listing. However They Do Make A Feeble Attempt to Have State of Oregon List the Marbled Murrelet As Endangered

In 2019 several groups petitioned the State of Oregon to Up-list the marbled murrelet as "Endangered" under weak state law. This is a very feeble attempt by many Oregon and NW environmental groups to protect the marbled murrelet whose numbers have also plummeted in the Pacific Northwest since its listing of "Threatened" under the ESA in 1992. See the Press Release below from numerous enviro NGOs when the petition was denied. Some believe this feeble attempt was made to only "save face" to members who believe these environmental NGOs are not doing enough to prevent the extinction of the marbled murrelet.

Salmon Runs Across the Northwest Face Extinction While National and Northwest Groups Refuse to Seek "Endangered" Listing

In 2018 a lawsuit was filed by the Wildearth Guardians, Native Fish Society and Northwest Environmental Defense Center against the Army Corps of Engineers to protect the last Chinook salmon and winter steelhead runs in the Willamette River watershed. Oregon Wild, Earthjustice, nor WELC joined in the lawsuit.

Below is a small sample of the estimated 60,000 Chinook salmon that died in the Klamath River in the summer of 2002 after water was diverted to Klamath Basin farmers instead of the salmon below Klamath Lake.

My Own Personal Story With Oregon Wild Beginning in 1991 That Justifies Exposing This Breach of Public Trust

In 1991 after being a spotted owl surveyor on the Umpqua National Forest for two years and refusing future employment because of felonies committed by the District Ranger, I began working as a part time volunteer with Oregon Wild (Oregon Natural Resources Council) to monitor timber sales in the Umpqua and Willamette National Forest. They had a very small staff of 3 led by Wendell Wood in Eugene, Oregon. Subsequent to those first years I worked closely with Oregon Wild during Clinton's Salvage Logging Rider from 1995 -1998 and aided Wendell Wood and Oregon Wild from 1998 to 2001 in the successful cancelation of the Pelican Ski Resort on Pelican Butte inside a 11,000 acre Inventoried roadless area between Klamath Lake and Crater Lake. 

The federal timber sale program was outlandishly huge before the Northern Spotted Owl was listed “Threatened” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1991. Somewhere in the range of 50,000 to 70,000 acres of ancient forest stands (trees averaged about 200 to 500 years old - some refer to as "Old Growth") were slated to be sold and or clear-cut every year on federal public lands alone.  Subsequent to the ESA listing Federal Judge Roy Dwyer instituted the Dwyer Injunction stopping all logging on public lands in Oregon, Washington, and Northern California. Oregon Wild (ONRC) and other NW forest protection groups earned a great victory and reprieve with the Dwyer Injunction in 1991.

However, a deal was made to settle and lift the Dwyer Injunction in 1994. That deal was called the Northwest Forest Plan which was brokered by President Bill Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, the timber industry, powerful western US senators, and Oregon Wild and other lead plaintiffs. 

Suffice it to say the environmental plaintiffs lead negotiators, Andy Kerr of Oregon Wild and Julie Norman of the group Headwaters, got rolled by Bill Clinton and Al Gore and agreed to Option 9 which mandated only 50% of the remaining old growth tree dominated forest and 50% of the remaining spotted owl population receive full protection, and the marbled murrelet - also listed under the ESA - remaining habitat on federal public lands would be mostly protected and the rest would be designated as the “Matrix” forests to be logged out.

Even though the industry and western politicians thought they had attained what they wanted, over the decades agencies couldn’t attain the cut levels the timber industry and their Congressional puppets demanded. Special provisions of the NW Forest Plan called "Survey and Manage" mandated federal agencies conduct surveys and protect dozens of rare species if found in each timber sale.  These Survey and Manage provisions and many lawsuits to make the Forest Service and BLM enforce those provisions protected most if not all of the remaining old growth tree dominated forest from being logged.

This led to western Democratic politicians and other timber industry puppets to orchestrate on all out "public" attack on forest protection groups starting around 2000 to 2005. In response Oregon Wild and many of the their allies including Earthjustice, Conservation NW, and Western Environmental Law Center decided to bend to pressure from Western democratic politicians and industry to go along with increasing cut levels visa vi “going along to get along” and allowing a huge uptick in logging on public lands in the northwest but especially in Oregon. 

See the attachment regarding Oregon Wild's collaborations (some label it "colluding") with the Forest Service to dramatically increase logging levels on public lands in Oregon over the last 15 years or so.

As long as the agencies labeled such timber sales as “restoration thinning”, “thinning” or thinning in the name of “fires fuels reduction” and “forest health” Oregon Wild, Earthjustice, W.E.L.C., KS Wild, and others allowed the agencies to proceed.

Beginning around 2007 through 2019, I have personally requested assistance from my friends at Oregon Wild on filling appeals and lawsuits for numerous timber sales that proposed to "thin" and log out many thousands of acres of native ancient forest stands within 90 miles of Eugene in the Willamette National Forest and the Eugene and Roseburg BLM Districts. Oregon Wild refused all my requests and the following sales were allowed to proceed: the 3,000 acre Oakridge-Westfir timber project in the Middle Fork District in 2007 - 2015, the 200 acre Trapper timber sale in the McKenzie District in 2004 - 2016, the 200 acre White Castle timber sale in the Roseburg BLM in 2013 (which was later stopped because of treesit and lawsuit filed by a Portland lawyer), the 4,000 acre Green Mountain project timber sales in McKenzie District in 2013 - 2018, the 2,000 acre McKenzie Landscape BLM timber sale project surrounding Vida in 2016 - 2018, the 1,000 acre Quartz timber sale some of which logs inside the 7,000 acre Fairview Roadless area in the Cottage Grove District of the Umpqua National Forest in 2016 - 2018. 

Oregon Wild refused to file suit against timber extraction projects listed above unless they were forced to by citizens to save face. Such occurred in 2012 when McKenzie River residents and Cascadia Forest Defenders installed a tree sit in the 2.300 acre Goose timber sale in the McKenzie District. This citizen uprising against the logging ofthe Goose Sale in the McKenzie District forced Oregon Wild to file a lawsuit to save face. Subsequently the token lawsuit was settled in 2014-15 and the logging of more than 2,000 acres of native forest including more than 500 acres of logging inside a 4,000 acre Frissel Mt un-inventoried roadless area proceeded in 2017 without resistance from local forest protection groups less one. 

 Cascadia Forest Defeders installed a second tree sit at the Goose sale in June 2017 in expectations that the community and forest protection groups would aid them in halting the logging. However, they were sorely disappointed by the end October when such community support never materialized. In desperation to hold off the logging the forest defenders erected a high wire road blockade. However within a few days of blocking the road the McKenzie District Law(less) Enforcement of the Willamette National Forest allowed the loggers to violently assault the forest defenders on two separate occasions as well as threaten the life of the person in the tripod 50 feet above the ground by pulling down the support wires attached to vehicles blocking the road. No one was ever charged.

Based on these experiences and more over the span of nearly 3 decades I believe Oregon Wild and others groups named are currently in breach of their members trust and the legacy of Wendell Wood (RIP) as well as the other group's founders of the past.  

Shannon Wilson,
Nov 5, 2019, 11:45 AM