Controversy Brews Over Bybee Timber Sale

, Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Wed, February 27 2013 at 6:32 PM, Updated: Wed, February 27 2013 at 7:18 PM

Environmentalists with Environment Oregon and Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center (KS Wild) said they have collected more than 10,000 signatures from Oregonians opposing the Bybee Timber Sale. The plan? To log trees on the western border of Crater Lake National Park, but not inside the park.

"It's also proposing to log some really old growth trees, 300-400 years old right down next to the stream channels," said Morgan Lindsay, the Membership and Outreach Coordinator for KS Wild.

She said the Bybee Timber Sale could build over 10-miles of new logging roads. According to Lindsay, the plan could harm the water quality and animal habitat.

"[It would be] really damaging not only for creatures like the spotted owl that need the old growth trees but also to fish, amphibians and other animals," she said.

However timber industry officials have an entirely different take on the plan.

"It's not going to be a massive clear cut and they're not going to go after the biggest of the old growth trees," began David Schott, Executive Vice President of the Southern Oregon Timber Industries Association.

"They're going to selectively cut," he continued.

He said back in 1994 the land was designated for harvest. In addition, he said the Bybee Timber Sale will actually preserve Crater Lake National Park.

"It helps mitigate the chance of catastrophic fire. The worst thing that could happen is not to manage those lands and have catastrophic fire go up and right through the park," said Schott.

He said not only will 25% of the money made go to schools and roads, but the Bybee Timber Sale will create jobs. According to Schott, the Oregon Forest Resources Institute said eight to nine jobs are created for every million board feet.

Meantime, environmentalists said they aren't opposed to thinning forests. In fact, according to Lindsay, environmentalists supported a timber sale in the Siskiyou National Forest last year.  She said they also want to prevent the risk of fire and get trees into the mill. But they said the Bybee plan isn't the way to do it.

People from KS Wild are expected to hand over the 10,000 signatures to the U.S. Forest Service on Thursday morning in Medford.

The Bybee Timber Sale is expected to go through, but once that happens, environmental groups can formally protest it.

If their protest is denied, the issue could go to court. Then it's unknown exactly how long it could be until the first tree is cut down.

About the Author

Christine Pitawanich

Christine Pitawanich was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, she received a master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York.

Christine also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Washington.

Before joining the NBC5 News team, she had the opportunity to file reports from Washington D.C. for WFFT FOX Ft. Wayne News in Indiana. Christine has also interned at KOMO-TV in Seattle.

Christine loves to ski, try new food and have fun in the outdoors.

Catch Christine anchoring weekdays on NBC 5 News at 5pm.

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