Help Stop Massive Tree-Cutting in the Owyhee Wildernesses!
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is proposing a drastic tree-clearing project across 47,000 acres of Wilderness in the Big Jacks, Little Jacks, North Fork Owyhee, Owyhee River, and Pole Creek Wildernesses in the Owyhee Canyonlands region in Idaho.
Please help keep these Wilderness areas wild and submit a public comment opposing this project before the January 18 deadline.
The BLM is considering three options in its Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) Bruneau-Owyhee Sage-Grouse Habitat Project: Alternative A, the no action alternative; Alternative B would significantly reduce juniper forests across 600,000 acres, including within 47,000 acres of Wilderness; and Alternative C, which is similar to Alternative B except that it would omit the Wilderness portion from the tree-cutting plan.
The BLM is proposing to remove native juniper forests to modify habitat to ostensibly benefit sage-grouse, although it’s questionable whether juniper removal would benefit sage-grouse. The BLM claims junipers compete with the grouse’s preferred sagebrush and grassland habitats and provide perching habitat for native raptors that prey on grouse. All native junipers trees would be cut except for very old ones and those growing in rock outcrops. The BLM would use chainsaws or large cutting equipment outside of Wilderness and handsaws on the 47,000 acres in Wilderness.
Even though BLM proposes to do the work with handsaws and access the Wilderness on foot or horseback, this ill-conceived idea violates the letter and spirit of the Wilderness Act. The project would significantly alter the untrammeled or wild character of these five Wildernesses which BLM is charged with protecting.
Of the three alternatives in the DEIS, Wilderness Watch supports A, the No Action alternative. We encourage you to oppose this project and to urge the BLM to take other meaningful actions that would benefit both sage-grouse and the Owyhee Wildernesses such as:
• BLM needs to determine the root causes of sage-grouse decline and find alternatives to killing native junipers and intensively manipulating vast areas of Wilderness;
• BLM’s analysis needs to adequately address the extent to which this will be a perpetual and ongoing project. If the trees grow back, which is likely, more cutting will be done in an unending manipulation of Wilderness;
• BLM should drop the proposed juniper-removal project and instead take other meaningful measures such as removing domestic livestock grazing in areas important to sage-grouse both within and outside the Owyhee Wildernesses; and
• BLM should allow natural fires to burn so that the natural ecological processes that have sustained sage-grouse and a diversity of habitats for millennia can continue to do so.
If we manage Wilderness the same way we manage lands outside of wilderness — through active manipulation—we lose the untrammeled baseline and what is “natural” for that area at any point in time. The BLM’s desire to convert this landscape to a condition it deems more desirable than what nature provides represents the antithesis of appropriate wilderness stewardship.
Please TAKE ACTION by January 18 to help stop a massive tree-cutting proposal on 47,000 acres of Wilderness in the remarkable Owyhee Canyonlands region of Idaho.
Thank you for taking action urging the Bureau of Land Management to stop a massive tree-cutting project on 47,000 acres of protected wilderness in the Owyhee Canyonlands region of Idaho!
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Thanks again...Together we will keep America's Wilderness wild!