Late Summer in our State Forest

Fish 2Late summer is a magical time in the Tillamook & Clatsop Forests. Refreshing swimming holes provide families fun relief from the heat; spring chinook and summer steelhead head up the north coast rivers and streams, offering anglers the opportunity for iconic pursuit; and hikers rejoice on trails to University Falls, up Kings Mountain, and along the Wilson River. Mountain bikers are found throughout the forest. Hunters gear up for the Fall deer season.

These yearly rituals are all the products of forests that are hanging in the balance. The Board of Forestry is in the process of writing a new Forest Management Plan. In early September, the Board will receive science reviews indicating the best way forward. We are hopeful that the best available science will guide the Board towards a plan that protects fish & wildlife habitat, clean drinking water, and abundant recreation opportunities. Along with good science, it will be crucial that the public weighs-in over the next few months, explaining to the Board what we value on these lands. Sign up for our email list to receive important action alerts!

In the meantime, here are some good ways to be involved in the future of these forests:

  • The Salmonberry Corridor Coalition is group of public and private partners (including OregonParks and the Oregon Department of Forestry) that is working to develop a new trail through the Tillamook State Forest along the old Salmonberry Railroad. We and our state forest protection partners (Northwest Steelheaders Association, Northwest Guides & Anglers Association, Trout Unlimited, and the Wild Salmon Center) think it’s a terrific vision with great promise. It would be a tremendous boost to the region and would improve recreation opportunities on Oregon‘s north coast. But it has to be done in a way that does not harm the Salmonberry River and its iconic steelhead run. Click here to share your comments in support of a primitive trail through the Salmonberry canyon!
  • SkyhawkTrygve Steen is a professor of Forest Ecology, Environmental Sustainability, and Photography at Portland State University. Trygve has joined several North Coast State Forest Coalition outings, generously contributing his contagious energy and knowledge of our forest landscapes. On Thursday September 18th, Trygve will be sharing his thoughts on Forest Ecology and Photography  at the Sierra Club’s monthly program night. This evening should prove to be a fascinating and beautiful introduction to forest ecology and the numerous ways that forest management impacts us. Click here for more details!

Governor Praises State Forest Conservation

Governor Kitzhaber with members of the North Coast State Forest Coalition in the Gales Creek Conservation Ares

Governor Kitzhaber with members of the North Coast State Forest Coalition in the Gales Creek Conservation Area

On June 2nd, Governor Kitzhaber toured the Gales Creek area in the Tillamook State Forest. The Creek, which is surrounded by buffers newly classified as High Value Conservation Areas, is also home to several recent stream restoration projects. Oregon Department of Forestry staff and partner groups lauded the stream enhancement work, which includes extensive log placement to improve fish passage and habitat, but the star of the tour was the Conservation Area:

Conservation areas are a critical component of healthy, well-managed public forests,” said Governor Kitzhaber. “They support our great coastal salmon runs and produce diverse wildlife and plant habitat. They provide clean water, carbon storage, and recreation values that are hard to replace elsewhere. I’m inspired and encouraged to see the Department, the Board of Forestry, and stakeholders working hard to sustainably manage and conserve these important areas for Oregonians.

There are now over 140,000 acres of High Value Conservation Areas designated across Oregon’s 800,000 acres of State Forest land. Over 100,000 acres are in the Tillamook & Clatsop State Forests, where forest health is crucial to providing habitat for coho salmon, marbled murrelets, steelhead, northern spotted owls, chinook salmon, red tree voles, and numerous other species. These lands also provide clean drinking water for over 400,000 Oregonians along with diverse recreation opportunities to coastal and Portland metro residents alike.

The Governor emphasized that the best available science would be used to inform the management of these lands and that carbon sequestration is an important role for these forests going forward. The ongoing balanced management of these heavily-logged lands remains a challenge, but the Governor expressed optimism: “We are using the best available science and strong community partnerships to grow healthy forests and guarantee their benefits reach our children and beyond.”

Still, despite the Governor’s leadership in creating these unprecedented Conservation Areas, the future of these lands is in doubt. Sawmill owners and some county commissioners have proposed that the lands be harvested as though they were private industrial timber lands. As the Board of Forestry writes a new plan to manage these forests, we will work hard to ensure that the best available science and public interest are at the forefront of the conversation.

Ian Fergusson of NW Steelheaders taking a break from the tour to do what he does best: look for fish!

Ian Fergusson of NW Steelheaders taking a break from the tour to do what he does best: look for fish!

To read the full press release, click here.

Portland Residents Provide Input to ODF

On May 19th, the Oregon Department of Forestry welcomed Portland area folks to a roundtable discussion on the ongoing process to rewrite the plan that guides management on the Tillamook & Clatsop State Forests. About 50 people answered the call and spoke up for the values that Oregonians want to see emphasized on these lands.

The dominant theme seemed to be revenue diversification for ODF, which is nearly entirely funded by timber harvests. The current setup makes it very difficult for the Department to emphasize outcomes like clean drinking water, healthy fish & wildlife habitat, and recreation. Rather, ODF is structurally bound to increasing logging levels.  Attendees spoke up for General Fund dollars, user fees, and forest product diversification. The message was clear: “the current formula doesn’t work!”

Wilson River

Also of note was the increasingly important role that forests will play in mitigating climate change. Healthy, biodiverse forests are extremely important as weather patterns become more radically dynamic. Clearcutting our carbon sinks is not part of a solution to a global problem.

The new plan needs to meet a variety of public desires. These lands belong to ALL Oregonians and their management should reflect that. A predictable and sustainable timber harvest is key to ODF and Oregon’s rural communities. However, overambitious logging has proven be costly to these entities.

As the Board of Forestry makes important decisions around what these lands look like 10, 20, 50, and 100 years from now, we hope that they take seriously these critical concerns.

We encourage you to email your own concerns to the Board of Forestry by emailing the Board Secretary.

ODF Hosts Alternative Forest Management Plan Roundtable on May 19th – Please Come!

With your help, the North Coast State Forest Coalition is working hard to ensure balanced management of the Tillamook & Clatsop State Forests to protect fish & wildlife habitat, clean drinking water, and recreation opportunities.  In 2013, we succeeded in creating “High Value Conservation Area” designations across the landscape.

Now, the Oregon Board of Forestry is revising the plan that dictates how these lands are managed.

On May 19th the Oregon Department of Forestry is holding an informal roundtable discussion to share information to collect feedback from the public on how we want these lands managed.  Several recent proposals suggest that these forests should be treated like industrial timber lands or sold—not the approaches we need on our public lands!  The North Coast State Forest Coalition wants to see an emphasis on restoration, recreation, and revenue diversification.

We hope that you will add your voice to this important discussion:

State Forest Management Plan Roundtable:

Monday May 19th, 6-8pm, Auditorium, 1120 SW 5th Ave, Portland

Skyhawk

This is a unique opportunity to speak up for conservation and the protection of our forest’s natural legacy. To RSVP or find out more, email Chris Smith, North Coast State Forest Coalition organizer.

Habitat Conservation Plans – A Tool for State Forests

Habitat Conservation Plans – A Tool for State Forests

Over the next year, the Department of Forestry will be reviewing and possibly re-writing the administrative rules that dictate management of Oregon’s state forests, defining the future of some of our state’s most vital natural spaces. Pressures to increase logging on the Tillamook and Clatsop forests is intense. Populations of marbled murrelets, spotted owls, Coho salmon, red tree voles, and other species already struggle to thrive within those borders without the threat of increased timber sales and management that prioritizes short-term profits over long-term forest health. Those most vulnerable species are only signposts for the vibrancy of the entire temperate eco-systems in these emblematic forests.

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Coho Salmon are listed under the Endangered Species Act

Every citizen of Oregon has a strong interest in the management of our entrusted state forest land, and a duty to advocate for prudent land use! In the past, the relationship between conservationists and timber companies and their proponents has been defined by embittered conflict and hostility – and often lawsuits. While seeking injunctions can be a strategic method for halting dangerous and illegal practices, there are other methods for pursuing conflict resolution and creating viable strategies for species preservation.

Wilson-River-Corridor-467.jpgThe Endangered Species Act contains a provision for Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) – a series of permits and mitigation planning that is usually pursued by non-federal entities that want to build on or log land where endangered species reside. Permits allow the construction or other activity, and the Habitat Conservation Plan explains how the party will help the population grow in other ways. Without vigilant oversight from citizens and non-profits, HCP’s can become unwieldy and risky management plans that harm endangered species.  However, they can also be a powerful tool.  The State of Oregon could seek an HCP on state forest land to limit the potential for messy and expensive lawsuits, create and protect important wildlife habitat, and provide certainty around timber revenue.
Read more here to learn more about the history of Habitat Conservation Plans and what they might mean for Oregon’s state forests.

Seeking balance for the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests