Skip to content

What is NEST?

What is NEST?

NEST is an all-volunteer group of self-organizing, tree-climbing humans. Each summer, NEST volunteers take on a role as canopy surveyors, who utilize the Northwest Forest Plan’s “Survey and Manage” laws to protect ancient forests threatened by logging.

NEST formed out of the Fall Creek tree-sit in 1999, when several observant forest defenders noticed USFS surveyors walking transect lines and climbing trees. These contact surveyors were seeking the treetop nests of red tree voles. Unfortunately, agencies like the USFS and BLM use a very abstract survey protocol, which does not fully account for tree vole habitat. It is not ideal for finding nests in all situations, so NEST volunteer surveyors developed their own protocol in order to more accurately document red tree vole populations.

climber about eighty feet up in a doug fir

Under Survey and Manage, a red tree vole nest site is required to receive a 10-acre surrounding buffer where no ground disturbing activities  can occur. Following a little research, they realized just what needed to be done to do a much more thorough job, on their own.

Since this time, NEST has found hundreds of Red Tree Vole nests in areas that were slated for logging. Thousands of acres of red tree vole habitat have been saved, as a result of NEST surveys.

Timber sales that have been canceled or reduced, largely due to NEST surveys, include the Clark Timber Sale, Straw Devil,  Wagon Road Pilot Project and others.

NEST has surveyed everywhere from the Illinois Valley of Southern Oregon, as far north as the Mt. Hood National Forest, and many sites in between. Some timber sales surveyed include Althouse Sucker, Anderson West, Deer Creek, Boney Skull, Cow Catcher, Trapper, and many others.


What is this “Survey and Manage” that you speak of?

Survey and Manage is a program of the Northwest Forest Plan, which was a set of procedures and laws implemented in 1994, to cover a region of 24.5 million acres throughout Washington, Oregon, and California.

Under Survey and Manage, it is required that specified rare and sensitive species are surveyed, prior to “ground-disturbing activities.” The red tree vole is one of two mammals on the list.

a view up fish creek, near the areas we climbed in 2009.In the case of the red tree vole (in some regions), a 10-acre buffer area is created around each nest site (a nest site being as little as one active nest up to several active and inactive nests), where logging cannot occur. Thus, the more nests that are found, the more red tree vole habitat there is that is protected from logging.

Survey and Manage – update 2010

In early 2008, Survey and Manage was repealed for the second time in a decade. However, thanks to the efforts of a lawsuit brought about by a coalition of environmental groups, Survey and Manage was re-implemented again in late 2009.

While it is back for the time being and foreseeable future, the ultimate future of Survey and Manage remains uncertain.

Until then, however, NEST will be surveying and documenting protected species habitat, with a goal of protecting as many habitat as possible!

NEST is a 501c3, non-profit organization. All donations are tax-deductible!

History of places surveyed

NEST began in 2000, started out of the Fall Creek Treesit, in the Clark Timber Sale – an area occupied for 6+ years and later saved due to a lawsuit and NEST surveys…

These is a brief overview, with links to articles/media, of past areas surveyed by NEST.

2001:  Fall Creek, Slapp, Windberry

2002: Straw Devil, East Devil

2003: Cow Catcher, Cotton Snake

– From Umpqua Watersheds, “Cow Catcher Timber Sale Stopped!”

2006: In 2006, NEST surveyed the Trapper Timber Sale – just east of Eugene; as well as Anderson West, Tennessee Lime, East Fork, and South Deer – all in Southern Oregon’s Illinois Valley.

Grant’s Pass’ Daily Tribune, Protecting Red Tree Voles

2007: Althouse Sucker, Boney Skull, Deer Creek

2009: Palomar Pipeline in Mt Hood National Forest

2010: (to be added soon)

2011: White Castle timber sale (Myrtle Creek Pilot Project). Located east of Myrtle Creek on BLM lands.  Cascadia Forest Defenders started a tree-sit in White Castle and occupied the area until the sale was dropped. This project was dropped due to a lawsuit brought on by Cascadia Wildlands when the BLM ignored NEST’s data.  The court case set great precedent for NEST in that the judge ruled that the BLM can’t just ignore our data.  This is also the year that welcomed one of NEST’s best new climbers who would later become one of the most celebrated and accomplished NEST organizers.   In 2016 a climb camp was held in the unit where NEST surveyed extensively.

2012: North Fork overlook. Located in the Salem BLM.  Sale was mostly cut, but NEST’s data lead to about 17 acres being set aside.

2013: Second Show.  Eugene BLM.  This timber sale was eventually dropped but not before NEST’s data was accepted and verified. 

2014: Quartz Timber Sale:  Located just east of cottage grove, NEST found almost 100 nests.  One tree had a nest over 200 feet high and the tree itself measured 250′. Green Mountain: Located above the cougar reservoir in the Mckenzie ranger district NEST surveys lead to the removal of two 20+ acre units.

2015: Lower Graves:  Located just north of Grants Pass (currently being litigated so it hasn’t been cut – updated 08/06/17)

2016:  Highway 46 timber sale.   This sale is located around Breitenbush hot springs.  It’s location is on the edge of the red tree voles known range, so we only found 1 inactive.  After highway 46 we went to a project near Cougar hot spring called Lang Dam:  We found many tree vole nests and our data was used to drop an entire unit of 11 acres and another unit had large buffers setting aside about 16 acres of great habitat (so 27 acres total were saved).  2016 was the year of climbing and hotsprings 🙂

2017: Pickett West.  Located in southern Oregon this project area includes sales that NEST had previously visited in 2006.  It will be the last BLM timber sale where the tree vole is afforded protection as the BLM had come out with a new RMP that excludes giving protection for the tree vole.

2017: Trout creek. Several units dropped in this timber sale located in the sweet home ranger district


Please email us at:

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 24, 2016 8:53 am

    Red tree voles? What an awesome story! It’s very cool that these little guys could help save so much forest, so many trees, so much LIFE!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: