The report is readable - and grim

 

Note: in the print edition of this issue, this article appears as a sidebar to another news article, "Columbia Basin plan staggers home."

Though politics may delay and water down the final plans of the Interior Columbia Basin Management Project, the science documenting the condition of the basin is strong and available.

In late December, the scientists working on the project released Status of the Interior Columbia Basin: Summary of Scientific Findings, described by its writers as a readable synopsis of the region's current ecological, social and economic conditions.

Illustrated by charts, maps and color photographs, the 144-page report depicts a landscape that has been dramatically altered by human settlement over the past 150 years. Among the findings:

* More than half of the national forests, rangelands and rivers in the Northwest - with the exception of wilderness areas, parks and remote canyon lands - are badly wounded from an ecological perspective.

* Major river systems are choked with sediment, harming fish habitat and killing fish.

* 128,000 miles of dirt and gravel roads traverse the region, serving as conduits for sediment-laced runoff and exotic plants.

* Highly effective fire-suppression efforts have snuffed out the historically cyclical influence of wildfire, creating in many places a tinderbox ready to explode.

* Noxious weeds and non-native grasses, spread by roads and cattle grazing, have smothered millions of acres of rangelands.

Though it stops short of specific suggestions, the report's conclusion favors "aggressively restoring ecosystem health through actively managing resources." Without such decisive action, habitat for endangered species will decline, noxious weeds will spread farther, and intense forest fires will increase, it says.

Conservationists say they are disappointed by the report's lack of specific recommendations, but pleased with its thrust. "It confirms what we've been saying," says Pat Ford of the Northern Rockies Campaign. "The healthiest areas in terms of ecological integrity are the wilderness areas and the millions of acres of surrounding roadless lands."

Ford, who is based in Boise, Idaho, says he is also pleased the scientific team concluded that the economic health of the region depends on the ecological health of the forests and rangelands.

"There's no doubt that some communities are dependent on logging," says Ford. "But overall it is the quality of life that drives the region's economics. That is the basis for the recreation and tourism industries and the reason many new businesses want to locate here."

For a free copy of the report, write the Pacific Northwest Research Station, 333 SW First Ave., P.O. Box 3890, Portland, OR 97208-3890, or call the Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Project at 509/522-4030.

NewTowncarShare News Classifieds
  • Siskiyou Field Institute (SFI) delivers outdoor science and natural history educational programs to adults and youth. SFIs Deer Creek Center (DCC) houses our southwest Oregon...
  • Sierra Club is looking for a community organizer who can help us protect grizzly bears and other wildlife species in the Northern Rockies region. This...
  • 1400 sf of habitable space in a custom-designed eco-home created and completed by a published L.A. architect in 1997-99. Nestled within its own 80-acre mountain...
  • This position provides professional* real estate services for CPW and the Commission to include acting as an official representative in real property transactions and negotiations...
  • 16' Long x 7' Wide x 7',fully equipped,top of line,$7000 sale price. Contact: [email protected]
  • Sycamore Land Trust, a 501(c)(3) located in Bloomington, IN, is seeking an exceptionally qualified, motivated candidates for Executive Director.
  • The Director of Marketing and Communications will plan and lead execution of the NFF external marketing and communications efforts. The position will provide strategic and...
  • Development and Communications Coordinator for HawkWatch International. Emphasis on grant writing and fundraising through various social media platforms. Salary range $35,000-$38,000.
  • Founded in 1989, Western Resource Advocates (WRA) is dedicated to protecting the Wests land, air, and water to ensure that vibrant communities exist in balance...
  • Join HCN and Black Sheep Adventures on an expedition through the national parks and monuments of Utah and Southwest Colorado, September 7 - 15, 2019....
  • Grand Staircase Escalante Partners is hiring a full-time Restoration Program Coordinator based in Escalante, Utah. gsenm.org
  • Work passionately on behalf of the finest hiking and equestrian trail in the Western United States. Work for the Pacific Crest Trail Association! The Pacific...
  • 7.58 Acres in Delta County for $198,000. and a contiguous 25 acre parcel of land zoned agricultural is available in Montrose county for an additional...
  • in Moab, UT start in Spring. Naturalist, River Guides, Camp Cooks, Internships available. Details at cfimoab.org/employment.
  • Friends of the San Juans is looking for an experienced attorney. Details at: http://sanjuans.org/2018/09/26/staff-attorney-fall-2018/
  • 25 acre in native grasses. Cedar draw. Year-round spring. At foot of Moscow Mnt, ID, 7 miles from town.
  • Custom-built pumice home, endless views, 20 minutes to Taos Ski Valley, NM. Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Taos Real Estate, 575-758-1924, https://hcne.ws/highdeserthaven
  • 5,000 square foot sustainable home on 30 acres in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. 20 minutes to Taos Ski Valley, NM. Berkshire Hathaway Home Services...
  • 541-987-2363, [email protected] www.dukewarnerrealtyofeasternoregon.com
  • Reporting to the Board of Directors (Board), the Executive Director (ED) has overall operational responsibility for FoGB staff, programs, expansion, and execution of the mission....