March 03, 2020

Earthrise is Now Fighting Walton Lake III

As some of you may remember, Earthrise has helped our client the Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project stop two different attempts by the US Forest Service to move forward with the very misguided Walton Lake “Restoration” Project. Walton Lake is a beautiful and popular place in the Ochoco National Forest. The area includes a small lake, a developed campsite immediately adjacent to two sides of the lake, and a surrounding old growth forest that provides a wonderful visual backdrop for visitors and excellent habitat for numerous wildlife species. However because some of the old growth firs in the surrounding area are infected with a naturally occurring disease, the Forest Service has twice attempted to move forward with a proposal to log all of the old growth firs in the area, even though many are completely healthy and could remain so for decades. The supposed “public safety” rationale for this logging, which will resemble a clearcut because the area contains almost all fir trees, is a gross overreaction to a “problem” that has existed for decades and that the Forest Service has previously addressed by removing individual “hazard trees.” Our client fully supports removing individual hazard trees that directly threaten campgrounds and other heavily used areas.

In 2016 Earthrise, working with our alum Jesse Buss, obtained a preliminary injunction halting the proposed logging. After conducting additional NEPA analysis the Forest Service tried to move forward with exactly the same project in late 2017. Earthrise submitted an administrative “objection” on behalf of our client and, surprisingly, the Forest Service upheld the objection and sent the Project back for additional analysis. That additional analysis is now done and the Forest Service is attempting to move forward with exactly the same misguided project for a third time. On February 18th the Forest released its latest “revised” EA for public comment. That EA is available here.

We will once again submit a comment on behalf of our client, but the more comments the Forest Service gets asking them not to move forward the better. If you are interested and have a few minutes to write a short comment please consider doing so, and submit it here.

The old growth firs at Walton Lake will really appreciate your help!