Fight Climate Change through Protecting Forests

Last week many Barkers, including myself, took to the Willamette River in kayaks to block the MSV Fennica, Shell Oil’s arctic icebreaker. This dramatic action, along with the 13 Greenpeace climbers suspended from the St. John’s Bridge, captured worldwide attention.

Oregon's U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley called this “a make-or-break moment for our environment and our future climate."  Calling for Shell to abandon its plans to drill in the Arctic, Sen. Merkley acknowledges “human civilization already faces enormous challenges from climate change.”

But at the same time, while Oregon’s public forests are quietly absorbing atmospheric carbon at an amazing rate, Senator Merkley could support a bill that mandates a five-fold increase in logging.

It is time to make the connection between climate change and forest protection!  Tell your Senators to oppose S.1691, the so-called “National Forest Ecosystem Improvement Act of 2015." This Act includes an unprecedented increase in National Forest logging, even as new studies show logging significantly contributes to carbon pollution and climate change.

Mt. Hood National Forest is among the top-ten carbon storing National Forests in the U.S., all of which are located in the moist westside forests in Washington, Oregon and southeast Alaska.  These forests are among the Earth’s greatest “carbon banks.”  They breathe in air filled with carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming, and store it within the trees cells, roots and even soil.

Altogether, these ten forests store approximately 9.8 billion metric tons CO2 on about 19 million acres, which is equivalent to all the fossil fuels that are burned in the U.S. over a year. Logging releases more than half of the stored carbon back into the atmosphere.

The struggle for a healthier climate future is not always as exciting as our showdown with the MSV Fennica, and addressing climate change can feel overwhelming and abstract.  However, with forests, the solution is simple and elegant: let the forests grow!

It is time for Congress to recognize the essential contribution of National Forests to slowing climate change.  Tell your Senators not to mandate a five-fold increase in logging on National Forests and to oppose the “National Forest Ecosystem Improvement Act of 2015."

In SolidarityBrenna Bell for Bark,

Brenna Bell, Staff Attorney