Tillamook timber cut falls into place despite criticism

Daniel B. Wheeler dwheeler at ipns.com
Wed Aug 8 10:48:15 EST 2001


>From The Oregonian, Aug. 3, 2001, p D9

Tillamook timber cut falls into place despite criticism
Threats of "direct action" prompt high security surround the state
logging of 100-year-old trees

By MICHAEL MILSTEIN, The Oregonian
	Loggers began cutting some of the oldest trees in the Tillamook State
Forest on Wednesday after state forestry officials and local sheriff's
deputies blocked nearby roads to keep potential protesters away.
	The security surrounding the Oregon Department of Forestry's Acey
Line Thin near Nehalem is unprecedented for a state logging project,
but officials said it was warranted because of threatened "direct
action" by groups known for interfering with logging in federal
forests. An area 600 feet around the logging area was closed to public
entry, and roads were closed to vehicles about a mile away.
	"In light of the threat of protests and given our interest in having
the harvest carried out, we felt this was the best way to go about
it," said Jeff Foreman, a Forestry Department spokesman.
	The thinning of 100-year-old trees in the Gods Valley region began
without advance public notice a few days after a citizens group
finished discussing a local plan for logging in the state forest's
Tillamook District. In February, state foresters delayed the logging
pending those discussions. They pledged to modify the sale, purchased
by a Springfield company last year, if it was in the best interests of
wildlife or the state.
	Foresters concluded that the project was sound, however, and made no
changes.
	"The evidence would have had to be pretty extraordinary," Foreman
said. "We would have had to discover something pretty dramatic to
prove to us that was necessary."
	Critics of the timber sale who participated in the discussions said
they felt state officials misled them to think they would have a voice
in how the sale proceeded. They had argued for protection of older
trees in Gods Valley, which was spared by the Tillamook Burn more than
50 years ago, and holds forest timber that is more than a century old.
	A public comment period on the Tillamook District plan remains open
until Sept. 11.
	"It proves that this was all just a PR scam," said Cheryl
Rorabeck-Siler, who lives near the logging site. "They lied to us to
make it seem like they cared what we had to say, when all they wanted
to do was to get in, cut the trees and get out without much public
outcry."
	Opponents said the move also ignored a request by Gov. John Kitzhaber
that state foresters avoid cutting controversial older timber until
they test a new state forest management plan on younger, crowded
stands.
	On Wednesday, loggers started with a 16-acre section of the Acey Line
Thin containing the oldest trees in the sale, Foreman said, because
other sections fall under seasonal logging restrictions that protect
threatened spotted owls and marbled murrelets. The timber sale will
produce $400,000 in revenue for the state and Tillamook County, and
thinning the forest will accelerate the growth of remaining trees into
the larger and more mature stands that owls and murrelets prefer, he
said.
	State foresters said they were disappointed that opponents of the
sale did not see its benefits.
	"Creating more wildlife habitat - it's almost like motherhood and
apple pie," Foreman said. "You'd hope people would agree with that,
but we weren't as successful in explaining that as we would have
liked."

COMMENT BY POSTER: On one hand, reducing the biomass build-up by
harvesting some trees (which probably needed thinning by my
observation) does reduce fire danger and is more likely to allow
surviving trees to become old-growth.

OTOH, Removal of 2/3 to 3/4 of the the living trees will likely reduce
biodiversity. Some of those trees could be hosting important
mycorrhizal fungi which the "state foresters" probably don't recognize
and couldn't care less about. Hopefully, there are enough associated
with the remaining living trees to repopulate the area. If not, the
thinned trees _may_ also die.

I remember a tree farmer near Molalla several years ago who cut his
Douglas fir to allow more room for his Western Redcedar to grow into.
Most of the trees were 120-150 feet tall, and certainly in the
harvestable range in terms of basal diameter. But instead of the cedar
growing more, they all died. So the one thing the tree farmer was
trying to prevent ended up happening anyway: a clearcut.

Posted as a courtesy by
Daniel B. Wheeler
www.oregonwhitetruffles.com




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