On June 5th, the Board of Forestry unanimously affirmed a new state forest land classification called “High Value Conservation Areas.” The Sierra Club has been involved in creating unprecedented Conservation Areas on the Tillamook and Clatsop state forests for several years and we are glad to see the new classification finalized after a long process–a process that saw overwhelming public support for protection for fish and wildlife habitat, clean drinking water sources, and recreation areas.
Unfortunately, the Board did not ensure that these areas would be protected long-term despite over 2,000 public comments that specifically called for durability. As the Board deliberated whether or not to explore new forest management plans with the goal of achieving financial viability for the Department of Forestry, the opportunity to set aside Conservation Areas was discussed but ultimately dismissed. Instead, it’s possible that the Board will consider reopening these areas for timber harvest.
The Sierra Club will be very involved as the Board examines alternative management plans that aim to secure better environmental protections and more revenue from the timber harvest. We are skeptical that these two goals can both be achieved. The Board’s commitment to upholding long-term environmental health on these forests will be tested and we hope they are up for the challenge.
Our work to achieve balance on Oregon’s state forest landscape is far from over. The intense pressure to increase harvest levels continues to threaten crucial salmonid populations, water temperatures, wildlife habitat, scenic views, recreation opportunities, clean water sources, and a healthy forest legacy in northwest Oregon. To get involved, “like” us on Facebook, visit our website, join us for an outing, or contact Program Coordinator Chris Smith.