Forest plan charts balance of logging, other uses

dwheeler at dwheeler at
Fri Jan 5 12:01:33 EST 2001

The following article is from The Oregonian, Jan. 24, 2001, p A1

Forest plan charts balance of logging, other uses
Oregon adopts a formula for its western state forests aimed at benefiting
harvests and habitat


	The Oregon Board of Forestry on Wednesday approved a new strategy
for managing more than 600,000 acres of Western Oregon state forests that
seeks to strike an untried balance between logging and wildlife
protection but which also may set the stage for a renewed timber debate.
	The blueprint for the Tillamook, Clatsop and Santiam state forests
relies on logging - especially the thinning of dense stands - to cnvert
now uniform swaths of forest into a varied patchwork of sizes and
densities that provides for loggers, recreationists and wildlife.
	Such a plan is unprecedented in public lands forestry. Rather than
setting aside some areas for wildlife and others for logging, it
concludes that with enough care state land can provide for both on many
of the same acres at the same time.
	"it may be experiemental in some sense, but it's certainly not
risky," said David Gilbert, Board of Forestry chairman. "A much greater
risk would be to do nothing and let the forest decay."
	But the practice of logging in wildlife habitat is likely to fuel
debate as state foresters turn to carrying out the plan's provisions,
which were more than five years in the making. That will be espeecially
true when the logging involves older stands attractive to sensitive,
protected species such as the northern spotted owls and marbled
	While lss than 1 percent of state forests now resemble old-growth
timber - much of the forests were planted following wildfires decades ago
and are uniform in growth - the plan calls for 20 percent to 30 percent
eventually to fit the older-growth category. State foresters think they
an push forests toward those percentages more rapidly by thinning forests
so the leftover trees grow larger faster.
	On Wednesday, the Forestry Board emphasized care about older stands
by saying the state will not clear-cut them until they cover the 20
percent to 30 percent of the landscape in places where older forests are
the priority. That may take 50 years or more.
	Gov. John Kitzhaber told the board that the new plan represents "a
bold new course and framework of forest stewardship."
	But he also urged board members to proceed cautiously "to protect
the popular support for the plan" while proving to the public that it
works. Instead of logging rare older forests right away, the governor
said, the Oregon Department of Forestry should focus its initial work on
the overcrowded stands planted after wildfires that scoured the Tillamook
region in the middle of the last century.
	"Employ active management first in areas where there is broad
support for doing so and avoid operating in controversial areas,"
Kitzhaber said. "But doing so, we can put in plae the necessary track
record of success with this ground-breaking, structure-based management
	The governor also asked that state foresters set benchmarks that
would show success over the long term. The plan already calls for 10-year
progress reviews, but Kitzhaber said the public also "needs to know that
these forests are moving - at a timely rate - toward the healthy,
functioning ecosystems the plan promises."
	Kitzhaber also stressed that the state forests must assure a
"sustainable and predictable flower" of timber and revenues for local
economies. Counties receive two-thirds of proceeds from timber sales on
most state lands.
	Standing timber in state forests currently is valued at about $6
billion. Brad Witt, a board member, said management outlines by the new
plan would support 20,000 jobs directly or indirectly.
	The board took no immediate action on the governor's requests, which
came after members approved the management plan.
	Federal officials still must approve a blueprint for ptoeting
threatened and endangered species habitat in the state forests. That
eventually would allow the state to log some of that habitat, a key
element of the new plan.
	Board members noted that while the forest plan will not satisfy
everyone, it does uphold the "greatest permanent value" of state forests,
as required by state law. They called on both timber industry and
environmental groups to work with state foresters to make the plan work.
	"It's not perfect; it doesn't have everything we need," said Janet
Neuman, a board member from Portland who said that the plan should better
protect rivers and streams. "But I think it's a clear impovement and a
step in the right direction, and it deserves a trial."
	Representatives of environmental groups dominated Wednesday's public
comments to the Forestry Board, with many praising the state's work on
the plan but saying it does not go far enough to reverse the more
intensive logging of past decades.
	Kristi DuBois of Vernonia, a Sierra Club member, said neighbors of
the state forests are increasingly concerned that the new plan does not
do enough to protect water supplies and support recreation. She displayed
photographs of logging along rivers, streams and popular hiking trails,
adding that she has gathered 400 signatures of residents concerned that
the plan puts logging ahead of other values.
	State forest should be held to a "much higher standard" than heavily
clear-cut private lands nearby, she said.
	And Joe Keating of the Oregon Wildlife Federation said Adoption of
the plan is "a call to arms" for his group, which in the past has focused
mainly on federal forests.

Posted as a courtesy by
Daniel B. Wheeler

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