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DeFazio Lambasts BLM for Sitting on Latest Scientific Review of WOPR

Apr 1, 2008
Press Release

Scientific Team Fails To Support Findings In WOPR

 

April 1, 2008


WASHINGTON (DC)—Today, Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-Springfield) was surprised to learn that the long-awaited seven agency scientific review of the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Western Oregon Plan Revision (WOPR), which failed to pass scientific review, has been buried on BLM’s website for several weeks.

Today, Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-Springfield) was surprised to learn that the long-awaited seven agency scientific review of the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Western Oregon Plan Revision (WOPR), which failed to pass scientific review, has been buried on BLM’s website for several weeks.

The BLM convened the Science Team in September 2005, to advise the agency on scientific issues. In its review of WOPR the Science Team concluded that WOPR suffered from several critical errors: overestimating the amount of available habitat for key species, underestimating the environmental effects of the revision, using models without verifying accuracy, failing to incorporate social and scientific uncertainty into its assumptions, and failing to utilize the best available science in its analysis. The Review examined all resources affected by WOPR, including wildlife, socioeconomics, water, and timber.

"I am shocked that the BLM appears to have quietly sat on the findings from its own Science Team," Congressman DeFazio said. "This doesn’t pass any credible attempt to fully disseminate this report and make the public aware that the Team’s findings were even available. Given the Science Team took issue with much of the findings in the WOPR, the BLM leaves the impression that it didn’t want this report to be widely known anytime soon."

The Team includes federal and state scientists with experience in a variety of natural and social sciences. Team members are scientists from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, United States Geological Survey, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Oregon Department of Forestry, Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station, and the BLM.

In response to a sweetheart settlement agreement with the timber industry, the BLM is considering revising the six western Oregon resource management plans that dictate management on 2.1 million acres of public land in southwest Oregon. This plan is commonly known as the Western Oregon Planning Revision, or WOPR. The agency released the draft environmental impact statement for its proposal in August 2007, which called for a 700% increase in logging on these lands. The BLM is expected to make a decision on the revisions sometime in the next several months.

"The WOPR is based on the fatally flawed 2007 draft spotted owl recovery plan, which itself has already failed three different scientific peer reviews. I have told the BLM and proponents of WOPR that continued reliance on this plan revision process to meet unrealistic timber harvest levels is ludicrous. It now appears that even the BLM’s own science team agrees."

DeFazio also said, "If WOPR cannot stand under its own weight, it is time for Congress to step in and provide clear direction for these forests."

The Science Team’s review is available on the BLM’s WOPR website: https://www.blm.gov/or/plans/wopr/files/Science_Team_Review_DEIS.pdf.