The first step to a new plan for our North Coast State Forests concluded last Monday when a stakeholder group sent several proposals to the Board of Forestry for further consideration. In total, five plans were presented by group members. Representatives of mill owners who want more timber from state forests pushed especially alarming ideas. One places timber production over all other values, another proposal treats 70% of the forest like a tree farm, and another proposal even asks to sell our public land to the highest bidder! These industrial proposals will degrade fish and wildlife habitat and pollute clean water.
Tillamook County Commissioner Tim Josi did not provide a plan of his own, but endorsed all three of the timber-focused proposals and called for more clearcuts instead of thinning. The Commissioner also rejected proposals to diversify funding for the Department of Forestry. Josi insisted that the Agency should remain dependent on logging as its only means of funding.
One other proposal, a variation of the current Forest Management Plan, called for modest increases to conservation outcomes and timber harvest levels. Our allies put forward a plan that would achieve the goal of improving conservation values while moving funding toward a balanced mix of harvest revenues and other revenue sources. This vision would drastically help to create better fish and wildlife habitat and recreation opportunities while also allowing the forest to be actively managed.
Central to the conversation is how Oregon will comply with the Endangered Species Act. A plan to aggressively log the Elliot State Forest spurred litigation that was recently concluded. Now the state is considering some exploratory land sales to test the value of the Elliot.
The North Coast State Forest Coalition strongly endorses the pursuit of a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) for the state forests. An HCP would provide predictability and certainty for timber revenue by preventing lawsuits, and would secure habitat for endangered and threatened species.
Even as some sawmill interests attempt to wipe conservation areas off the map, the Oregon Department of Forestry is planning a series of open houses to explain and celebrate new High Value Conservation Areas. These events will include self-guided tours, Google Earth maps, and ODF staff answering questions, so mark your calendar:
- March 17: 6-8pm, Forest Grove ODF District Office, 801 Gales Creek Rd, Forest Grove
- March 20: 6-8pm, Astoria ODF District Office, 92219 Hwy 202, Astoria
- March 22: 10am-noon, Tillamook District Office, 5005 3rd Street, Tillamook