and Doug Stromberg

and Doug Stromberg

As Oregon hunters and sportsmen, we've been reading with deep concern that a coalition of "hunting, fishing and conservation" organizations have weighed in to oppose a forest management plan called the "WOPR" (Western Oregon Planning Revision) which would impact the future direction of the management of federal forests in western Oregon. Our view is not represented by the Oregon Chapter of the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers or the other members of the coalition, including Trout Unlimited.

Our main concern as hunters is that most deer and elk populations on federal forestlands in western Oregon have either dropped sharply or are about to. The decrease in deer and elk numbers reflect declining habitat caused by the virtual end of federal forest management following implementation of the Northwest Forest Plan in 1994.

It goes without saying that declining elk and deer are bad for hunting and hunters. That's also bad for wildlife management where ODFW already suffers from a continuing loss of hunters and the management dollars they contribute.

We believe the WOPR is a good first BLM effort to restore federal forest management and create new and much needed deer and elk habitat, while supporting hunters and hunting. We believe this will be done with adequate environmental protection applied especially to roads and streams. The BLM works closely with the Oregon Department of Forestry to meet or exceed the Oregon Forest Practices Act's rules and procedures.

We also believe that most Oregonians should understand the facts behind the proposed WOPR plan:

Increased management of federal forests in Oregon will improve overall forest health. One of the primary reasons for the recent increase in numbers of catastrophic wildfires (such as the Biscuit fire) in Oregon and the Northwest is the lack of effective forest management. Common-sense, science-based forest management will help protect water, air and wildlife habitats — especially for deer and elk. Local economies in Western Oregon will benefit from increased management — with better-paying, high-quality jobs; increased tax revenues; and increased overall economic impact due to support industries.

Finally, we believe that hunters and other sportsmen, if they truly care about deer and elk and hunting in Oregon, should support the WOPR. As active members of local and national hunting organizations, we whole-heartedly support the WOPR alternative that calls for increased forest and wildlife habitat management to help better protect forests, improve deer and elk habitat and increase other public benefits.

Steve Mealey of Springfield is a member of the Boone & Crockett Club. John Lowe of Parkdale is a member of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Doug Stromberg of Portland is a member of Safari Club International.