Department of Interior Withdraws WOPR
The Department of Interior announced on July 16 that it is withdrawing the Western Oregon Plan Revisions (WOPR). According to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, the WOPR is legally indefensible because the BLM never completed consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service, as required by the Endangered Species Act.
The press release announcing the decision stated: '"We have carefully reviewed the lawsuits filed against the WOPR and it is clear that as a result of the previous Administration’s late actions, the plan cannot stand up in court and, if defended, could lead to years of fruitless litigation and inaction,' said Secretary Salazar."
This is the right decision for fish and clean water. The BLM sought to replace the Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP) on its lands in Oregon despite the fact that the NWFP has successfully protected fish and water quality values. Unfortunately, the reality is that in most places degradation continues to outpace restoration. Now is therefore not the time to be rolling back protections for water and fish. As Salazar stated, there is "agreement that logging should not occur in areas that would put water quality at risk."
The WOPR was based on the same boom and bust economic models that have failed to safeguard clean water and fishery resources. Instead, we need to look for ways to protect freshwater resources and provide rural economies with the stability they need.
In October 2009, several Oregon-based timber companies filed suit against the Department of the Interior motivated by a desire to re-institute the BLM's WOPR. PRC was granted the right to intervene since we have provided input on the plan revisions since their inception. Read a press release about our motion to intervene. Outside the court, PRC is also keeping a watchful eye for proposals to manage BLM forests that lessen protection for aquatic species and coastal watersheds.