Hearing begins for KS Wild vs. BLM lawsuit on old-growth logging

MEDFORD, Ore. – Community members gathered in front of Medford’s federal courthouse Tuesday to support the KS Wild lawsuit challenging the Bureau of Land Management’s Integrated Vegetation Management program.

This program would authorize open seral logging contracts in some of the oldest and most ecologically significant forests in Southern Oregon.

It includes the Penn Butte and Late Mungers timber sales scheduled to begin May 15.

KS Wild’s communications manager Haleigh Martin says logging to this scale would actually drastically increase wildfire risk for the community.

“A lot of the trees being targeted in these open seral logging operations, which is essentially a miniature clear cut in a football field size, is removing a lot of the old, large, fire resistant trees that in a wildfire situation wouldn’t burn as high severity,” Martin said at the rally.

Martin says BLM has been slow to communicate a resolution leading up to a hearing in the lawsuit.

Meanwhile, organizations defending the BLM’s project say this logging and vegetation management would actually reduce wildfire risk in the Williams and Selma area.

“The treatments proposed through IVM are really designed to protect the oldest and most important trees on that landscape,” said Corey Bingaman, the Western Oregon field coordinator for the American Forest Resource Council. “So in every stand targeted for treatment in IVM, the largest and most fire adapted trees are slated to be retained while the smallest trees are slated for removal.”

Bingaman says this project is necessary to make up for decades of fire exclusion in the area, which reduced fire resiliency in the forests.

The court hearing began Tuesday afternoon at 2 p.m. It’s expected to last throughout most of this week.

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Taylar Ansures is a producer and reporter for NBC5 News. Taylar is from Redding, California and went to California State University, Chico. After graduating, she joined KRCR News Channel 7 in Redding as a morning producer. She moved to Southern Oregon in 2022 to be closer to family and became KTVL News 10’s digital producer. Taylar is currently finishing her Master's Degree in Professional Creative Writing through the University of Denver. In her free time, Taylar frequents independent bookstores and explores hiking trails across Southern Oregon and Northern California.
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