Oregon: As backwards as ever when it’s comes to sustainable state forest policy

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A current proposal with the Oregon Board of Forestry would allow "maximum profitable harvests"– essentially clear cutting our state forests. The Board of Forestry is meeting on Wednesday to decide on a new management plan for our state forests. 
 
Please contact Governor Kulongoski and the Board of Forestry and tell them not to clear cut our state forests.

Our state forests provide abundant habitat for fish and game as well as recreation– like hiking and mountain biking.  
 
This new Forest Management Plan would abandon the concept of balanced management on our state forests and turn publicly owned treasures like the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests into commercial tree farms. 

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These forests already provide income to the state each year. But our current management plan balances logging with other uses such as clean water, fishery health, and recreation.  Oregon's public forests also serve as a carbon sink, removing global warming gases from our atmosphere. This proposal to put timber harvest above all other uses will inevitably cause environmental impacts that can't yet be predicted. 
 
Tell the Board of Forestry and Governor Kulongoski to protect our publicly owned forests by taking action at: action.sierraclub.org/stopORclearcutting
 
Increasing timber harvests in our public forests would damage drinking water sources, harm rich salmon fisheries, and degrade recreational opportunities on our publicly owned state forest lands. 
 
We need your help to convince Governor Kulongoski and the Board of Forestry to protect our vital state forests.  
 
Click here to contact the Board of Forestry and Governor Kulongoski.

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Update!June 8th, 2009 at 12:14 am

Oregon allows more logging in Clatsop, Tillamook forests

http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2009/06
/oregon_allows_more_logging_in.html

by Matthew Preusch, The Oregonian

Wednesday June 03, 2009, 8:14 PM

SALEM — Oregon officials decided Wednesday to boost logging on the Tillamook and Clatsop state forests by reducing in size those areas dedicated to preserving older forests while stepping up clear-cutting.

The decision affects roughly a half-million acres of state-managed mountainous terrain between Portland and the coast.

The Oregon Board of Forestry’s 4-2 vote followed hours of testimony from fishermen and foresters and triggered protests from conservationists concerned with imperiled species that rely on the forest. Significantly, the board’s action throws in the towel on a much-maligned 2001 strategy to balance economic, social and environmental interests in the forests.
“I think we have a forest management plan that is broken, and time has proven that it’s broken,” said John Blackwell, the board chairman.

The board also asked the Department of Forestry to look into changing the legal definition of the purpose of the public forests, their “greatest permanent value.”

That would serve as the starting point for crafting a totally new management plan for the forests, which counties deeded to the state to manage after a series of fires last century known as the Tillamook Burn.

In the meantime, the newly amended version of the 2001 plan will hold sway, meaning about 20 percent more of the forests would be subject to clearcutting.

“We’re extremely disappointed in the decision, and from our perspectives it represents a significant reduction in protection for endangered species” like the northern spotted owl and coho salmon, said Noah Greenwald of the Center for Biological Diversity.

Greenwald said his group would likely sue the state under federal Endangered Species Act rules.

Also not pleased are timber interests and local counties, who along with schools and fire districts receive the majority of revenues from timber sales on the forests. They argue that the forests can sustainably supply far more saw logs.

“This forest management plan is costing the state about $41 million a year in foregone revenue, and the counties’ share of that is about $26 million,” said Dave Ivanoff, vice president of Hampton Lumber, which has mills in Tillamook and Willamina that rely heavily on logs from the forests.

“This is not an either-or discussion. Higher timber output levels are not going to compromise fish or habitat,” Ivanoff said.

Board members Peter Hayes and Jennifer Phillippi were the dissenting votes, but for different reasons.

Hayes wanted the changes subjected to peer review by scientists. Phillippi disagreed with the strategy for keeping the forest plan in line with federal endangered species rules.

This was only the second time in roughly two decades the board had not decided a major issue unanimously, an indication of the pressure its members feel from legislators and the governor’s office to strike a satisfying balance for the state’s forestland.

Matthew Preusch; mattpreusch@news.oregonian.com

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Letters to Editor about this issueJune 10th, 2009 at 11:47 am

6/8/2009 12:03:00 PM

http://www.dailyastorian.info/main.asp?SectionID=23&SubSectionID=392&ArticleID=61605&TM=55298.98#B2

Vote on forests was short-sighted
Strategy must be long term; we cannot afford a short-term fix
The Oregon Board of Forestry’s divided vote last week to emphasize logging on 70 percent of the acreage of the Clatsop and Tillamook state forests was understandable but unwise.

Counties are hurting and would like to be making more money from forests they once owned outright before turning them over to the state decades ago. That transfer was predicated on two-thirds of timber revenue being returned to support county operations and schools.

This original arrangement was based on the now seriously outdated and always-flawed idea that the forests of Northwest Oregon should be managed as tree plantations. Nowhere in this 1930s calculus was there value assigned to the forests’ role in providing healthy fisheries, not to mention serving as recreation areas and carbon-sequestration mechanisms.

As the forest board began to recognize in 2001 when it voted in favor of a 50-50 split between timber production and habitat preservation, the time has come for a true multiple-use strategy. This decision also at least implicitly recognized that failing to reform would result in expensive litigation or regulatory intervention to force more conservation-minded policies.

It is always easier to make such decisions in good economic times. Now that the economy has soured, a majority of forest board members have revealed how soft their commitment was to reform. This will only produce lawsuits, not more timber harvest.

Oregon’s governor and citizens should let the board know that we want balanced, stable, long-term forest policies that are not subject to shifts in the region’s economic winds.

Toward a new forest economy
The timber industry needs dependable access to trees grown for harvest

June 09, 2009
The Daily Astorian
North Coast loggers do, in fact, have much to be proud about, and the Clatsop County Board of Commissioners was on the right track in passing a resolution in support of our timber industry.

Just as many ranchers cherish the open range and other lands on which they rely, often being more knowledgeable about conservation than some self-avowed environmentalists.

It’s safe to say that never in living memory have things been quite so grim for this industry as now. Housing starts are far down. Weyerhaeuser is laying people off right and left while tinkering with a new ownership model for its assets. Rules for logging in national and state forests are far less accommodating than in years past. Some firms probably won’t survive and their employees are suffering, too. This ultimately has an impact on all of us.

It’s also safe to say that there won’t be any easy or immediate answers to restoring the timber business to a robust state. There is a glut of product on the market, the housing industry is perhaps five years away from recovery, bankers are skeptically examining every loan application and environmental regulations aren’t going away.

Although some in the industry feel victimized by changes in federal and state policies, long-term prosperity for the timber business requires strategic thinking about how to succeed without as much access to cheap public timber. For example, the Obama administration is right to re-institute a Clinton-era moratorium on road building in federal forests. For too long, U.S. taxpayers subsidized road building on behalf of private firms. That can’t go on, for fiscal reasons as much as environmental ones.

The old days when logging produced hundreds of good-paying local jobs are gone forever. But government can and should build partnerships with companies in communities like ours by designing a tax and regulatory structure that encourages job creation right here. Companies must be provided with incentives to sustain and create a new forest economy that produces high-quality lumber and other wood products right here where the wood is grown. Wauna and the Warrenton mill both need active support now, and the industry as a whole needs dependable access to trees specifically grown for harvest.

It won’t be easy preserving our remaining timber industry while laying the groundwork for the next generation of forestry. But logging never was easy. The smart, tough survivors in this business can find a way if given a fair chance.

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