Applegate Neighborhood Network hosts rally opposing Bear Grub Timber Sale

RUCH, Ore. — The Applegate Neighborhood Network held a rally opposing the Bureau of Land Management’s Bear Grub Timber Sale today.

In the mountains between Ruch and Talent, a proposed 1,200 acre timber sale by the Bureau of Land Management is in the works.

The so-called Bear Grub Timber Sale is being rejected by some Applegate community members.

“We’ve just been working within the community to try and spread the word around the community and let our neighbors know what’s happening and what’s at stake,” said executive director of the Applegate Neighborhood Network, Luke Ruediger.

He says the sale proposes to log mature, closed canopy forest using a form of logging called group selection… which includes removing all, if not most, trees in a 4-acre space or up to 30% of a logging unit.

“If you have a 100-acre unit, 30 acres of that unit could be clear-cut,” said Ruediger.

Marty Paule came to the rally.

He lives adjacent to a logging unit.

Aside from losing the trees near his home, he is concerned about the risk of wildfire.

“BLM’s plan includes what they call group selection logging, which in our view is a euphemism for clear-cuts. That form of logging puts the entire forest in peril because of drying effects, it releases carbon that is otherwise questioned. Above all, it just dries our forests which are already suffering,” said Paule.

Ruediger says the community has tried to reach out to BLM to talk about the sale and potential modifications.

“Local residents have asked on 7 different occasions for BLM to meet with the community to talk and discuss this timber sale – the BLM has refused on every occasion,” said Ruediger.

The BLM has held virtual events on the project this past week.

It’s also accepting public comment on the environmental assessment of Bear Grub until July 13th.

“It would be disrupting that forest environment for decades, if not generations to come and we wanna be certain that when our great-grandchildren hit the trails, there will be woodlands there for them,” Paule said.

Around a dozen community members attended the rally.

For more information on the sale, visit stopbeargrub.org.

—————————–7/1/2020 update: The BLM’s Medford Office released this statement in response to the story:

Approximately 70% of the Bear Grub project is focused on vegetation management projects that reduce community wildland fire risk. Wildland fire is the number one issue in the Medford District, and we believe this project is essential in helping to reduce the risk the Applegate community faces. It’s also important to note that this work isn’t new to the area – 90% of Bear Grub is retreating areas where we’ve previously done this work. 

The other 30% of the project is timber related, and this work provides economic opportunity and jobs to our county. BLM’s Western Oregon forestry program creates or maintains around 13 jobs and introduces $648,000 into the local economy per million board feet of timber harvested. The O&C Lands Act and Coos Bay Wagon Road (CBWR) Act require 50 percent of receipts collected from the sale of timber on O&C lands ​to ​be distributed among 18 counties​ in western Oregon​. The funding will go directly to the counties, supporting investments in education, infrastructure, public safety, health services, and other critical expenditures made by these jurisdictions.

Viewers can learn more about the project on our ePlanning website: https://eplanning.blm.gov/eplanning-ui/project/1501673/510

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Mariah Mills
NBC5 News reporter Mariah Mills is a Medford native. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a Bachelor's Degree in journalism. She also minored in sociology. In school, she covered Oregon athletics for the student-run television station, Duck TV. When she's not reporting, she’s reading, hiking and rooting for her favorite teams, the Seattle Seahawks and the Oregon Ducks.
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