The U.S. Forest service, in an environmental analysis published earlier this week, is recommending the lifting of a 25-year-old ban on logging large diameter trees across six national forests located in Central and Eastern Oregon. The rule, which prohibits cutting any trees larger than 21 inches in diameter, is part of a broader set of local forest management standards known as the Eastside Screens, adopted in 1995 to protect wildlife habitat and water quality on nearly 10 million acres of federally owned land. Though originally meant to be temporary, the Eastside Screens remain in effect for all or parts of the Umatilla, Wallowa-Whitman, Malheur, Ochoco, Deschutes and Fremont-Winema national forests. Shane Jeffries, the Ochoco National Forest supervisor, said the agency proposed amending the 21-inch standard earlier this year to reflect changing forest conditions and updated science and management priorities. In February, the Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station issued a report analyzing the Eastside Screens and concluded that removing some large trees may be beneficial for forest health.
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