The “Homesteader” timber sale in the Clatsop state forest calls for the clearcutting of some of the best old growth forest habitat remaining on Oregon’s north coast. The sale features trees over 130 years old and over 200 feet high–relative monsters in a region that has been logged and burned over.
HB 3210, which would have seen our state forest lands clearcut at much higher levels, is no longer. The bill was supported by timber industry lobbyists and Tillamook County Commissioner Tim Josi, but Rep. Brad Witt, Chair of the House Committee on Agriculture & Natural Resources heard from hundreds of Oregonians to reject the bill and keep balance on our forests. Rumor has it that Chair Witt’s phone was ringing off the hook. Congratulations and thanks to all who contacted Chair Witt!
The Department of Forestry opposed the bill. Check out this recent article in the Oregonian, for a look at the relationship between big timber and the legislature.
Bills like HB 3210 rear their heads in nearly every Oregon legislative session, but they normally don’t go as far as this one did. We need to hold our lawmakers accountable for pushing unbalanced forest agendas that sacrifice future benefit for short-term dollars.
Last month, the Board of Forestry refused to endorse a proposal that would have seen drastic increases in clearcutting across the landscape. Our supporters drove hundreds and hundreds of thoughtful, personalized comments to Governor Brown asking her to reject this plan. Thank you for your support—we were heard loud and clear!
The search for a new Forest Management Plan continues as the Board instructed Department of Forestry staff to engage in shuttle diplomacy with stakeholder groups in an attempt to find areas of agreement among the timber industry, county interests, and the conservation community.
The Board Subcommittee in charge of a new plan meets on April 8th with a lot of work to do. Tasked with improving conservation and stabilizing ODF’s funding, it is becoming more evident that the Board needs to seek alternative revenue streams rather than continuing to rely solely on logging to manage these public lands.
The Oregon Department of Forestry recently presented a timber-centered vision for the new Forest Management Plan on the Tillamook & Clatsop state forests.
Key proposals included:
- Devoting 70% of the forest to industrial clear cutting and pesticide spraying to dramatically increase harvest.
- Clear cutting most of the new High Value Conservation Areas that are currently protected for older forest.
- A formal policy to prioritize cutting of oldest trees in the “production zone” so species cannot recover.
- Using the extra revenue to increase the ODF budget by 30%.
- Redefining conservation areas to include clearcuts.
No, we are not making this up!
ODF’s plan is very similar to the 70-30 proposal pushed by Hampton Affiliates, a private firm that wants the logs for their mills.
Maps based on ODF data provide images of the current plan and ODF’s devastating proposal. Red areas are removed from conservation protection and opened to clearcutting:
Fortunately, a conservation-minded member of the Board blocked this initial proposal, but ODF leadership have clearly made a power move to expand their budget as the Governor changes. The Department was directed to seek alternative revenues for their state forest program, but are clearly focused only on increasing harvest levels dramatically.
For most people, “salmon” is an expensive, unnaturally pink piece of fish at the grocery store. It is a potential meal, detached from its context by thousands of miles. Even those of us who are lucky enough to live in the Pacific Northwest often have only a distant relationship to these iconic fish. However, there are places where we can bridge the gap and connect with an elusive and integral part of our history, culture, cuisine, and economy.
Just over an hour from Portland, and a mere 30 minutes from the fast-growing cities of Beaverton and Hillsboro, one can sit on an isolated stream bank and share hours with spawning coho salmon. For the uninitiated, this is an eye-opening experience that can open new ways of looking at the natural world on which we depend. However, these are also the last hours of the salmons’ lives. They travel over 100 miles up rivers like the Nehalem, the Salmonberry, the Trask, and the Wilson to spawn where they hatched 3-5 years before, dying in the process of continuing their line.
Oregon coastal coho are listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act. 2014 saw a very good return, but ocean conditions and inadequately protected inland habitat remain concerns for these fish. The Tillamook and Nehalem basins are producers of some of the strongest and most diverse wild runs of salmon in Oregon, but the emphasis given to industrial timber in the region threatens these strongholds.
Our publicly-owned north coast forests, the Tillamook & Clatsop State Forests, likely hold the key to salmon habitat in northwest Oregon. The management of these lands is currently undergoing a revision. Some stakeholders would like to see these lands managed with even more emphasis on timber production, a move that would likely harm wild salmon and take away the possibility of connecting with these fish.