POLK COUNTY — Oregon Bureau of Land Management is holding a series of open houses and workshops on its draft resource management plan (RMP) and environmental impact statement for Western Oregon.
Five of those meetings will be in Salem, including an open house on Thursday at the Willamette Heritage Center.
The draft RMP outlines how the BLM will manage its lands for the recovery of threatened and endangered species, providing for clean water, and producing a “sustained yield” of timber products, among other objectives. There are 2.5 million acres in Oregon, which includes a portion in Polk County.
There are five alternative management plans, which include a “no action” option, plus two sub-alternatives under consideration in the document.
The open houses, which are being held in several cities in Western Oregon, will provide the public a chance to learn about the plan, ask questions, and provide comment.
At about 1,600 pages, BLM spokeswoman Sarah Levy calls the document “daunting,” so the hope is the open houses will make the information more accessible to the public.
Tables will be set up to provide information on aspects of the plan addressing forest management, wildlife, recreation, and socio-economics.
“We are looking for public feedback,” Levy said. “It’s really important for the public to get involved in the planning process.”
The purpose of the plan revision is to update the current RMP, which was approved in 1995.
The “no action” alternative would be a continuation of that plan, the practices and harvest outcomes of which have never been realized.
Levy said much has changed in the 20 years since that plan was approved, and the BLM needs to revise its RMP to keep up with current scientific information and management policies.
“The BLM has been unable to complete what has been projected in the 1995 resource management plans,” Levy said.
BLM’s preferred alternative at this point allows an annual harvest of 234 million board feet.
Forest products industry representatives have said that alternative does little to break the pattern of “anemic harvest levels” on BLM land in Oregon.
“The BLM’s preferred alternative outlines a harvest level of only 234 million board feet, which is less than 20 percent of the annual growth of these lands and far short of the level needed to maintain the health and resiliency of these forests or address the economic plight of our rural communities,” said Tom Partin, the president of the American Forest Resource Council, which represents the forest products industry.
Levy said the preferred alternative for the purposes of the draft plan is not binding or a final decision.
That will be left until after the comment period ends on the draft plan on July 23.
“It is not a commitment or a decision,” she said. “It is just a starting point the BLM is using to construct a proposed final RMP.”
Levy said input from the public between now and the end of the comment period is needed to make the plan better.
“This is the time for the public to get involved,” Levy said. “This the time for the public to tell the BLM what they think about this plan.”
What: Oregon Bureau of Land Management Western Oregon draft resource management plan (RMP) open house.
When: Thursday, 4 to 7 p.m.
Where: Willamette Heritage Center, the Dye House, 1313 Mill St. SE, Salem.
Want to comment?
Members of the public have until July 23 to provide written comments via internet, email, or postal mail.
To comment via email: email@example.com or by mail: Draft EIS for Western Oregon, P.O. Box 2965, Portland, OR 97204
For more information: www.blm.gov/or/plans/rmpswesternoregon/.