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A few years ago (2016) I wrote a letter to the editor addressing the destruction of the largest known bat roost on the Oregon Coast, at the old Hinsdale House on Spruce Reach Island, near the Elk viewing area. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Coos Bay District stated in their Environment Assessment (EA) that certain mitigation would occur.

I believe it would be of great interest to the public if the BLM made available their “bat monitoring mitigation results” via the newspaper or another published media. At the time, I was told that a BLM hydrologist would be monitoring the demolition, and he would record the bat species and numbers exiting the structure; Something an experienced bat biologist with the best equipment would not likely be able to do with any certainty. I have heard from reliable sources that the structures the BLM built for bats as mitigation remain mostly unoccupied. This suggests that the predicted loss of the 200-plus bats representing seven species, three of which were state and federal special status species, was an accurate assessment by the biologists who commented on the proposal. Since the demolition was done in the record-setting cold of that November, bats were very unlikely to find a new hibernaculum, and most likely perished from the cold.

Now I understand BLM is planning to destroy the Townsend’s big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendii) winter roost at the Vincent Creek camp area. This species is a state and federal special status species. If this demolition is planned, is the same hydrologist (a person who studies/analyzes water systems, not living things) going to do the environmental assessment? Is the BLM considering fencing to prevent public access into this structure to protect people and bats? Is the BLM planning to do the same or similar mitigation for the loss of this important habitat structure? Is BLM intending to destroy this structure in the coldest season of the year, like they did with the Hinsdale House, insuring the maximum mortality of bats due to cold temperatures?

It would be transparency if the BLM made available the data they collected, before another wildlife disaster like the Hinsdale House loss is implemented. Public trust has been damaged by BLM’s past actions. A healthy forest community depends on all forms of wildlife.

Steve Langenstein

La Pine

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