Oregon Timber

Larry Caldwell larryc at teleport.com
Wed Nov 5 18:47:18 EST 1997


In article <345F6A77.6496 at livingston.net>,
Don Staples <dstaples at livingston.net> wrote:

> >State foresters drop proposal to make logging the leading use 
> >The Associated Press
> >11/04/97 12:39 AM Eastern

This is the sort of news article that is only news if you don't live
in Oregon.  I notice the AP didn't mention who these "foresters" were.
The fact that they got ignored is not exactly news.

Oregon state forests have always been managed for multiple use,
including recreation, mushroom production, watersheds, fish and timber.
The Oregon Department of Forestry does a great job of managing these
resources *in cooperation with* the Oregon Department of Fisheries
and Wildlife, the Oregon State Park system, the tourism industry, and
on and on.  

Oregon sports over 300 state campgrounds, many of them in state forests.
In order of appearance, the major industries of the state are:

1)  Agriculture - $3.4 billion last year
2)  High Tech - $1.4 billion
3)  Forestry - $1.4 billion
4)  Tourism - $900 million

All these industries are net cash generators, which does a lot to explain
why the 3 million people in Oregon are doing just fine financially.

> >Use of the words "leading use" in the proposal had drawn protests from
> >environmental groups and Gov. John Kitzhaber. 

Dr. John, our fearless leader, is from my county, where he took a job
as an ER physician so he could go fly fishing.  He's a member of the
Steamboaters, named after Zane Grey's favorite fishing lodge at Steamboat
Falls on the North Umpqua.  Several miles of the North Umpqua are closed
to bait fishing, making it perhaps the most perfect fly fishing mecca
in the USA.  Landing a 20 lb steelhead with a fly rod is something 
anyone who loves the outdoors should do once in their life.

You may have noticed that the coastal coho salmon have been listed as
threatened and/or endangered in Northern California, but not in Oregon.
The reason is that Kitzhaber cooked up the Oregon Coastal Salmon Recovery
Initiative, which is a voluntary stream habitat enhancement program
that involves the state, industrial forest companies, and small forest
owners throughout the state.  Commercial fishing used to be a major
industry in the state, and a lot of people would like to see it
become a major industry again.

I did some forest bridge projects for the ODF about 20 years ago.
Even back then, they didn't allow any destruction of stream habitat
by road building activity.  If you rolled a big rock into a stream
that created a fish barrier, you had to haul it back out again.

> >The new proposed rule is not expected to affect the board's management
> >plan, which would sharply increase timber harvesting if implemented next 
> >year. 

The majority of Oregon's state forests are in an area known as "The
Tillamook Burn," a disaster of biblical proportions that led to the
first and largest public reforestation project ever undertaken in the
USA.  Thousands of elderly Oregonians remember planting trees in The
Burn when they were children.  Those trees are moving into their
prime production age at a time when the demand for timber is up.
The Burn is in an area that *averages* 70 inches of rain a year.
It's not unusual for a doug fir tree to put on 3' of growth a year.

Unlike most gubmint agencies, the ODF is managed by foresters.  The
law says 'sustainable yield' so that's what we're going to get.  The
law also says 'tourism' and 'fisheries management' and 'wildlife'
so we'll get that too.  As long as you let the experts do their thing,
everything runs fine.

> >The Oregon Forest Industries Council prefers calling timber a leading 
> >use of state forests, said Jim McCauley, who represents state timber 
> >purchasers for the council. 

Oh.  The OFIC.  Those are the big mill boys.  They have plenty of money,
but not much political base.  My org, the OSWA, is broke but has a wider
political base.  

> >"The fear right now is legal challenges" over harvests, McCauley said.

Always a threat, no matter what rhetoric you use.  ODF has a pretty good
rep among the environmentalists.  They work with the ODFW to do a lot
of habitat enhancement projects.  There's a lot of wailing and gnashing
of teeth in the industry, but eco-groups don't have bottomless pockets.
They don't sue unless they really see some damage.

> >"This is Oregon's last chance to create a rule that will provide a 
> >stable timber supply." 

Rhetoric.  We already have a stable timber supply, thanks to the 
forethought of planners decades ago.

> >Oregon's forests now produce 4 billion board feet of timber a year. 

Could do a lot better.  Two thirds of the state is federal land, including
several huge national forests.  Unfortunately, the national forests were
never run by foresters, with the attendant carnage you would expect.
Right now, harvest on federal lands is virtually shut down while the
forest recovers from decades of neglect.  In another 20 to 40 years
they'll be able to resume a more normal level of production.  With
good long term management, the state should be able to produce about
10 billion board feet a year.  During the Reagan administration they
were cutting 16 billion board feet a year, which is why they
don't have any trees now.

Oregon has about 28 million acres of forest land.

-- Larry



More information about the Ag-forst mailing list