Protecting Sisters' forests


Last updated 10/31/2023 at 9:37am

It is now widely known in our community that the Sisters Trails Alliance (STA) has come out publicly against the Green Ridge logging project due to concerns over the cutting of large and mature trees in old-forest patches, and scientifically contradictory restoration goals and methods. We are not only concerned about degraded aesthetic and recreational experiences on Green Ridge, but also irreparable harm to our life support systems.

We recently messaged our far-reaching email list letting members of the Sisters community (and beyond) know that old, mature, and large trees are on the chopping block on Green Ridge, and that a final decision sealing their fate is rumored to be forthcoming any week. We felt compelled to let this community know that it is not too late to ask the Forest Service to drop large and mature tree logging.

After our email blast, the Forest Service reached out to STA asking that we publicly retract the statement we made that “old-growth trees would be cut.” To this we offer the following: One cannot look at a large tree and say with certainty that it is or is not old-growth. That is because old-growth trees have but don’t all share the same characteristics, such as advanced age (150-plus years), large diameter, complex crown structures, evidence of decay, high canopy, unique bark characteristics, etc.

In other words, the Forest Service cannot say that they will not ultimately cut old-growth. To avoid all of this confusion to the public and the agency, they could simply extend the 21-inch diameter cutting limit across the entire project area to ensure that the vast majority of old and mature trees don’t ever meet a chainsaw. This move would also keep in line with President Biden’s recent Executive Order on Strengthening the Nation’s Forests that specifically calls for the conservation of mature and old-growth forests.

From Green Ridge, to the Cougar Rock logging project, to vegetative treatments far away from human structures, we have questions and concerns about how our local Forest is being managed. As native wildlife populations dwindle, motorized recreation expands, fires threaten communities, and ecosystems are altered beyond recognition, there appears to be one common denominator: human use and our heavy-handed manipulation of ecosystems. It is time we start paying close attention to the consequences of our actions so that all life can thrive. The vast majority of us say — here in Sisters, we value wildlife and wildlands. That’s why we live here. Let’s start looking at the best science to guide us and work together to protect what we hold dear.

Our partnership with the Forest Service is one we value, having the distinct honor of building and maintaining trails here on the Sisters Ranger District for 22 great years. Maintaining this relationship is important to the Sisters Trails Alliance, but it does not mean we will not speak up when we see something wrong, as all responsible and engaged citizens should. Logging large and mature trees, particularly in the older forest patches of Green Ridge, would be unacceptable. We stand tall with this special place and ecosystem alongside our community. It is still not too late, and we are all watching with great interest and concern.

We at Sisters Trails Alliance look forward to engaging in decision-making and influencing outcomes across the Sisters Ranger District on Green Ridge, and elsewhere. Now and into the future.


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