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2024 Oregon Logging Conference Resolution – Western Oregon O & C Lands

This resolution waspresented and approved at the Thursday morning (February 22, 2024) OLC breakfast. Nick Smith, Executive Director of Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities made the presentation

A resolution by the Oregon Logging Conference Regarding the Management of O&C Lands, the Illegal Expansion of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument and 2016 Resource Management Plans

WHEREAS, the O&C Act of 1937 requires the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to manage 2.6 million acres of O&C Lands in western Oregon for permanent forest production on the basis of sustained-yield, meaning that each year BLM is required to harvest the volume of timber that is grown by the forest during the same year so that harvest levels can be sustained in perpetuity;

WHEREAS, since the late 1930s, 18 western Oregon counties that contain these lands – called O&C Counties – have depended on responsible sustained yield management of the O&C Lands and subsequent revenues to support essential public services, including law enforcement, search and rescue, public health, and youth and senior services;

WHEREAS, under the O&C Act, sustained-yield timber harvest is the dominate use of the 2.6 million acres of land in Oregon, and the sustained yield of O&C Lands has been scientifically calculated as 1.2 billion board feet of timber every year;

WHEREAS, proper sustained-yield management has proven to be successful in maintaining healthy and resilient forests, and also providing economic opportunities in Oregon’s rural timber communities;

WHEREAS, anti-forestry litigation and obstruction starting in the late 1980s, combined with restrictive and conflicting federal environmental laws and regulations, contributed to the dramatic decline in timber harvests on federal lands, including the O&C Lands, and significant reductions in funding to public services, and social and economic decline in western Oregon timber communities that continues to this day;

WHEREAS, the Obama Administration imposed new Resource Management Plans in 2016 that prohibited sustained-yield timber harvests on 80 percent of the total O&C land base, despite the O&C Act requiring all O&C Lands to be managed under the principles of sustained yield management;

WHEREAS, in the final hours of his presidency in 2017, President Barack Obama signed a proclamation illegally expanding the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument by 48,000 acres under the Antiquities Act, most of which overlaps with the O&C Lands;  

WHEREAS, with the stroke of a pen, and with no environmental analysis or public process, President Obama nullified a federal law and directed the BLM to ignore Congressional direction on how to manage the O&C Lands in Southwest Oregon;

WHEREAS, under the 2016 Resource Management Plans, the BLM arbitrarily established Allowable Sales Quantities and harvest volumes that are less than a quarter of the annual sustained yield of O&C Lands;

WHEREAS, in response to lawsuits brought by forestry, logging and county associations challenging the monument expansion and Resource Management Plans, Judge Richard J. Leon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia found that the President lacked authority to override the clearly expressed will of Congress when it came to the management of federal lands;

WHEREAS, the U.S. District Court found that the O&C Act’s mandate—that O&C lands “shall” be managed for permanent forest production— “cannot be rescinded by Presidential Proclamation,” and further determined the BLM’s 2016 Resource Management Plans violated the O&C Act because the RMPs prohibited sustained-yield management on approximately 80 percent of the O&C Lands;

WHEREAS, on July 18, 2023, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed Judge Leon’s interpretation of the O&C Act and upheld the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument expansion and the BLM’s 2016 Resource Management Plans, leaving no limits on the reach of the President’s power under the Antiquities Act, and enabling the BLM to reclassify lands in a manner that would remove them from the O&C Act’s dominant use mandate;

WHEREAS, in a parallel case in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals brought by family-owned Oregon businesses having affected lands within and adjacent to the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument expansion, a divided court issued a similar opinion on the Monument;

WHEREAS, the federal government, without the approval of adjacent communities, in recent decades has placed massive areas of federal lands off limits to access, natural resources and other uses in recent decades;

WHEREAS, if allowed to stand, the Appellate Courts would establish a dangerous precedent moving forward for every federal land management law, and further the risk of granting the President unfettered authority to indefinitely suspend or cancel the operation of federal laws through the Antiquities Act;

WHEREAS, if allowed to stand, the federal government’s continued misinterpretation of the O&C Act and the Antiquities Act would cause grievous harm to the future of western Oregon rural counties, communities and timber industry;  

WHEREAS, in the pursuit of justice, democracy, and the separation of powers doctrine enshrined in the United States Constitution, forestry, logging and county associations have filed a joint petition for a writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court of the United States that seeks review of the Obama-era expansion of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument and the BLM’s 2016 RMPs for Western Oregon O&C Lands. 

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Oregon Logging Conference call on the Supreme Court of the United States to grant the joint petition for a writ of certiorari and hear arguments to determine these constitutional matters and determine whether a President enjoys unfettered authority to indefinitely suspend or cancel the operation of a federal law established by Congress.

Be it further resolved that copies of this resolution be provided to the Supreme Court of the United States, Oregon’s congressional delegation, Department of the Interior, Director of the Bureau of Land Management, and the Bureau of Land Management State Director for Oregon and Washington.