Protecting 5.5 Million Acres of Forests for Biodiversity & the Climate

Oregon Wild - Blue Mtns
Photo: Brett Cole
Protecting 5.5 Million Acres of Forests for Biodiversity & the Climate
Oregon Wild

Covering 5.5 million acres, the three National Forests of Eastern Oregon’s Blue Mountains – the Malheur, Umatilla, and Wallowa-Whitman, have been grouped together for a comprehensive revision process. The Blue Mountains are increasingly seen as an essential connectivity corridor as the only forested corridor in the United States between the Rockies and the Cascades. The region is home to a myriad of at-risk wildlife species such as wolverine, moose, wolves, fisher, lynx, and more. It is also a potential habitat for future reintroductions of keystone species like condors and grizzly bears. As their ancestral homelands, the Blue Mountains have held significant cultural value to the Nez Perce Tribe and others since time immemorial.

Starting in the early 2000s, a series of failed efforts at plan revisions by the US Forest Service (USFS) tried to prioritize extractive industries like logging and livestock, while de-emphasizing the importance of natural and cultural values like clean water, recreation, salmon, wildlife, quality of life, and carbon storage. The official process for the Blue Mountain Forest Plan Revisions is expected to start in early 2024. Oregon Wild’s activities will include detailed policy analysis of proposed changes brought forth by the Forest Service, educating the public about the importance of these forests, and organizing grassroots support for conservation and recreation protections.