Biden’s old-growth plans cast shadow on timber projects

By Marc Heller | 06/25/2024 01:28 PM EDT

The administration has proposed amending forest plans to give greater consideration to forest projects’ impact on old growth.

Douglas fir trees that died as a result of insect damage following heat stress stand in the Willamette National Forest, Ore., Friday, Oct. 27, 2023. Scientists are investigating what they say is a new, woefully underestimated threat to the world’s plants: climate change-driven extreme heat. (AP Photo/Amanda Loman)

Douglas fir trees in the Willamette National Forest. Amanda Loman/AP Photo

The Biden administration’s plans to conserve old-growth forests on federal lands are months from becoming final, but they’re already raising questions about previously approved timber projects.

Supporters and opponents of the administration’s policy are compiling lists of projects on national forests to prove their points, including a 4,438-acre timber harvest canceled in Oregon’s Willamette National Forest in 2023 after a fresh look by the Forest Service.

In that case, the agency cited “potential tension” around the Flat Country project, even though officials said none of the logging would occur in old-growth stands.


In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Forest Service Chief Randy Moore, environmental groups called the Flat Country decision “a welcome example of the type of leadership the public expects when it comes to public lands and environmental protection.”