Clearcuts and Controversy as Wyden Logging Bill Introduced

November 26, 2013

Senator embraces logging, conservation groups representing tens of thousands members express disappointment

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Eugene, OR – This morning,Senator Ron Wyden, Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, released the much anticipated “O&C” logging legislation, the O&C Land Grant Act of 2013. The Sierra Club and Oregon Wild, which represent tens of thousands of members and supporters in Oregon and millions across the nation, have serious concerns about the bill’s impacts on public lands in western Oregon.

“Oregon Wild has worked with Senator Wyden many times over the years to craft balanced environmental legislation,” said Oregon Wild Conservation Director Steve Pedery. “But we must strongly oppose this bill because it is so heavily weighted towards clearcut logging and weakening environmental safeguards.”

Senator Wyden has been under tremendous pressure from extremist politicians and the logging industry to embrace clearcutting to fund county governments.  Unfortunately, this bill is a dramatic departure from the balanced approach to county funding the Senator outlined in his “Principles for an O&C Solution” released on October 9, 2012.

Instead, the new legislation will eliminate the old-growth reserve system of the Northwest Forest Plan, dramatically weaken Endangered Species Act rules for logging, and limit Americans’ ability to have a say in how their lands are managed.

The bill embraces a form of clearcutting known as “ecoforestry” in order to maximize logging and county revenue. This controversial practice would be used to clearcut forests up to 120 years old, stands that help protect clean water and wildlife.

“We cannot clearcut our way to prosperity,” said Rhett Lawrence, Conservation Director for the Sierra Club Oregon Chapter.  “This bill will not solve the counties’ financial problems, but it will put Oregon’s clean water, wildlife, and salmon runs at risk.”

While Sen. Wyden’s bill includes measures to safeguard clean drinking water and offer some protection for areas important to hunters, anglers, and other users of the O&C lands, its focus on logging ignores the structural changes that have taken place in Oregon’s economy over the last 20 years. Logging is a relatively minor factor in the state’s economic picture today, surpassed both in jobs and economic revenue by the thriving tourism and outdoor recreation industry. A recent analysis of likely job growth found employment in recreation-related industries in Oregon is expected to grow by 31 percent by 2020 – exceeding the expected 3 percent job growth in logging and related industries

“Senator Wyden has a long history as an environmental champion, which is why this legislation is disappointing,” concluded Pedery.  “We stand ready to work with the Senator on a solution to county funding shortfalls that better protects clean water, wildlife, and Oregon’s Wilderness heritage.”

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Our North Coast State Forests Deserve Better

November 21, 2013

Tell Governor Kitzhaber that our State Forests are more than just logs!

The Board of Forestry is considering alternative Forest Management Plans that would shape how the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests are managed for the next decade and beyond.  Any new plan needs to improve conservation values on these public lands: fish and wildlife habitat, clean drinking water, and recreation opportunities cannot be left by the wayside in favor of increased clear-cuts.

The Board should reject any plan that resembles an industrial forest model. Industrial clear-cutting is not appropriate on our State Lands! Rather, any balanced forest plan should include several key elements:

  • Wildlife, Aquatic, and Riparian Habitat needs to be explicitly protected by the next Plan. This includes but should not be limited to current High Value Conservation Areas and it is crucial that protections should extend to all critical habitat for the spotted owl or murrelet as designated by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

    Trask River

    Trask River

  • Riparian Buffers need to be adequate to filter sediment, cool rivers, and distribute woody debris into fish habitat. A good model for riparian management can be found on Federal Forests, where buffers extend 2-3 tree heights on large streams and one tree height on small streams.
  • Stand Age should reflect a more diverse and complex forest and the average stand age should be increased across the landscape.
  • Iconic Recreation Areas such as Kings Mountain, Elk Mountain, the Salmonberry Corridor, Cedar Butte, University Falls, Buster Creek, Gnat Creek, and Aldrich Point should be off-limits for clear-cutting. Rather, any management should aim to minimize disturbing the special values provided by these areas.
  • Roads should be removed from High Value Conservation Areas except where essential for restoration activities.
  • Habitat Restoration should be funded by timber harvests that occur near wildlife habitat.
  • Pesticide Use should be limited to manual application. Herbicides shown to contain carcinogens should be prohibited. Pesticides should be prohibited within 200 feet of drinking water sources.
Aerial application of herbicide

Aerial spraying

Revenue from these lands is crucial in creating family-wage jobs and keeping the Department of Forestry solvent, and a sustainable timber harvest is part of the mandate for these forests. However, the timber harvest should not poison our drinking water, destroy wildlife habitat, wipe out our salmon runs, or ruin recreation spots. These forests are capable of providing for social, environmental, and economic needs. Timber over everything will not achieve a balance.

Take action: pass this vision on to the Governor!


State Forest Management and Oregon’s Drinking Water

August 15, 2013
Trask River, Tillamook State Forest

Trask River, Tillamook State Forest

Sometimes it’s easy to think of Oregon’s forests as distant and removed–places meant for weekend escapes. The realities of how much our forests mean for our day-to-day lives can be striking. When we’re grilling salmon, breathing clean air, building additions to our homes, we’re using forest products. One of the most important forest products in Oregon is clean drinking water.

Most of the faucets, taps, and spigots in northwest Oregon have connections to the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests. Having a publicly-owned, temperate rainforest in our State is unique to Oregon, and this landscape provides drinking water to over 400,000 people. However, mismanagement of these lands threatens the quality of that water, our health, and our quality of life. Herbicides, silt, and high temperatures can all be attributed to inadequate stream buffers and an over-ambitious timber harvest program. While logging is an important part of Oregon’s economy, culture, and history, overdoing it compromises the other amazing benefits we receive from our State Forest lands. Our State Forests need a balanced management plan!

Roughly 75% of Washington County residents get their drinking water from the Tualatin Valley Watershed, which begins in the Tillamook State Forest and flows into the Willamette Valley. Hillsboro, Oregon’s 5th most populous city receives its water from Barney Reservoir on State Forest land. Other recipients of State Forest-influenced water include Beaverton, Forest Grove, Banks, Tigard, Tualatin, North Plains, and soon Sherwood. Oregon’s north coast communities, deeply tied to the forest product economy, also rely on these forests. Cities including Tillamook, Seaside, Garibaldi, Bay City, Manzanita, and Nehalem also collect water downstream of State Forest watersheds.

Barney Reservoir

Barney Reservoir

Post clear-cut herbicide application can lead to carcinogens entering water sources. Timber harvests on steep slopes produce water-blocking landslides and can dirty waterways with sediment. Small stream buffers mean an inadequate amount of shade and woody debris in  our rivers and streams. An expansive, expensive, and ill-maintained logging road system means silt and water flow disruption. These are just some of the water quality problems stemming from a timber-centric management plan.

Failed culvert at the Wolf Creek headwaters

Failed culvert at the Wolf Creek headwaters

In order to provide Oregonians with the Greatest Permanent Value, our State Forests need to be managed with an eye towards all of their inherent qualities, not just timber. Clean water requires adequate stream buffers, protection for steep slopes, and special consideration for important reservoirs. In short, our State Forest landscape needs permanent Conservation Areas that provide water quality assurances, support healthy fish and wildlife habitat, and allow us to recreate in places of spectacular natural beauty.

Tell Governor Kitzhaber and the Board of Forestry that any new Forest Management Plan needs superior conservation outcomes!


State Forest Terrestrial Anchors are worth exploring!

August 2, 2013

On July 16th, a group of adventurous hikers trekked into the Bastard Creek Terrestrial Anchor in the Tillamook State Forest near Nehalem.  The 5,021 acre area provides critical habitat for marbled murrellet and wild salmon. Without path or plan, we embarked to see what this area had to offer in terms of wildlife, flora, sounds, sights, and challenges. Here are some images of our jaunt:

Map of the Bastard Creek Terrestrial Anchor. Our trek took us to the northeast corner.

Map of the Bastard Creek Terrestrial Anchor. Our trek took us to the northeast corner.

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Forest Ecologist Trygve Steen filled the expedition with knowledge. Here he cores a 110-year-old Western Hemlock.

Greg Jacob clambers over blown down trees.

Greg Jacob clambers over blown down trees.

The Bastard Creek area is newly classified “High Value Conservation Area” but its future is uncertain. The Board of Forestry is re-examining their Forest Management Plan and there is no guarantee that Conservation Areas will gain the long-term protection that is needed to support healthy fish and wildlife habitat and clean drinking water.

Oregon’s State Forests need a balanced plan that includes long-term conservation commitments. Click here to do your part for Oregon’s forest legacy!

Click here to check out other opportunities to get into the North Coast State Forests!


You own Oregon’s largest known tree-let’s keep it that way!

July 1, 2013

Tell State Forester Decker not to trade Oregon’s largest tree to a timber company!

Oregon's largest known tree is owned by you and me!

Oregon’s largest known tree is owned by you and me!

The “Arcadia Cedar,” Oregon’s largest known tree, is on publicly owned State Forest land just off of Highway 101 south of Cannon Beach. Hug Point, the parcel containing the giant, along with other rare examples of north coast old growth, has been identified as a “high priority” to be traded from public ownership in a Land Acquisition and Exchange Plan. The reason for its priority status is the parcel’s “favorable position relative to Lewis and Clark Oregon Timber LLC’s ownership and road pattern.” This kind of old-growth stand is extremely rare on Oregon’s north coast, thanks to decades of logging and the logging-induced Tillamook Burn fires.

Landscape 1920     Landscape 1940

The Department of Forestry’s readiness to explore trading iconic, rare, culturally and ecologically important places like Hug Point to timber companies is more easily understood when one “follows the money.”

  • First, because the Department is funded almost exclusively through timber sales from the State Forests, it is inclined to make decisions with timber as a priority. ODF provides for itself by intensively harvesting our public land, so they resist efforts to ensure long-term conservation. This lack of diversity in the Agency’s funding creates a bias towards timber production over other values that the State Forests offer.
  • Second, the Department is strapped for funds. Inaccurate timber projections, down markets, and legislative raids on past timber proceeds have left ODF exploring new Forest Management Plans to improve their financial status.

Over the long term, we must thus stop ODF from trading or cutting critical environmental places, and we must also support those Board of Forestry leaders who are serious about diversifying funding for ODF, in order to reduce their bias to just cut more to pay the bills.

The Arcadia Cedar and the Hug Point parcel are excellent candidates for long-term protection rather than trade. With the Board of Forestry having confirmed the “High Value Conservation Area” classification, the Department has a tool to help ensure the  conservation of this important piece of public land.

Tell State Forester Decker not to trade Oregon’s largest tree to a timber company!

Join the North Coast State Forest Coalition on a trip to see the tree on  July 14th!


Board of Forestry Affirms Conservation Areas, Reopens Forest Management Plan

June 6, 2013
Elliot Creek, Tillamook Forest (photo by Gigi Peek)

Elliot Creek, Tillamook Forest (photo by Gigi Peek)

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.


New opportunities to get into the North Coast State Forests

May 16, 2013

The North Coast State Forest Coalition is hosting a series of field trips in the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests. Anyone interested in the state forests and the role they play in the local economy and ecosystem is invited to attend.

Hike Kings Mountain and Elk Mountain in the Tillamook State Forest, Sunday, May 19th – Kings Mountain offers some of the best views of any hike in the Oregon Coast Range. Climbing 2,500 ft in under 3 miles. The hike is difficult and, when wet, can be slick and muddy. Hikers must be experienced and in decent shape. On a clear day, hikers can see Mt. Hood to the East and the Pacific Ocean to the West. The return will be made via the Elk Mountain Loop. We’ll arrange a carpool and provide snacks for this adventure.

For more information, or to register, please email NCSFC Organizer Chris Smith.

View from Kings Mountain

View from Kings Mountain

Spruce Run Hike, Sunday, May 19th – A great hike that runs along Spruce Creek to Spruce Lake. 5 miles round trip, moderately difficult. This creek is part of a proposed conservation area! Meet at the intersection of HWY 26 and Lower Nehalem Road near Milepost 20. 1 hour drive from Portland, 1 hour drive from Astoria.

Carpools will be available from Astoria, and possibly beyond depending on interest. To sign up or ask questions, contact Pearl Rasmussen at 503 338 8933 or rasmussenpearl@gmail.com

Family Friendly Hike along the Wilson River, Sunday, May 26th – The Wilson River provides some of the most accessible recreation opportunities in the Tillamook and Clatsop forests. Join us for a leisurely 3.5 mile stroll along the Wilson River Trail between Jones Creek and the Footbridge Trailhead. We will be making a stop at the Tillamook Forest Center on the way. Along with experiencing the natural beauty of the Wilson River, attendees will learn about the North Coast State Forest Coalition’s conservation efforts in these forests as we enjoy a picnic after our walk.

For more information, or to register, please email NCSFC Organizer Chris Smith.

The Wilson River

The Wilson River

Photo Outing, Buster Creek, Sunday, May 26th – Learn about nature photography with Michael Granger in a scenic forest setting. The Buster Creek Terrestrial Anchor is a proposed Conservation Area in the Clatsop State Forest. Come see why this place is so special and learn skills for capturing that essence on camera. The excursion will be a drive on forest roads with several stops at sites with different visual appeal including young and old trees, streams, bridges, clearcuts, and viewpoints. Michael is the owner of Lightbox Photographic in Astoria. He specializes in forest photography an helps people to explore their passion and vision through photography and printing. All photography skill levels are welcome! The journey will involve some easy walking.

Meet at the Elderberry Inn a little under an hour drive from Astoria on Highway 26 for coffee and a brief talk about the excursion at 10:30 am.

To sign up or ask questions, contact Pearl Rasmussen at 503-338-8933 or rasmussenpearl@gmail.com.

Edible Wild Plant Hike, Saturday, June 15th – Venture into the woods with a edible plant expert and learn about how to harvest food and herbs from the forest! Location will be in a proposed Conservation Area in the Clatsop State Forest Carpools will be available from Astoria and possibly beyond depending on interest.

To sign up or ask questions, contact Pearl Rasmussen at 503-338-8933 or rasmussenpearl@gmail.com.

Photo Outing, Plympton Creek, Sunday, June 23rd – 

Learn about nature photography with Michael Granger in a scenic forest setting. The Buster Creek Terrestrial Anchor is a proposed Conservation Area in the Clatsop State Forest. Come see why this place is so special and learn skills for capturing that essence on camera. The excursion will be a drive on forest roads with several stops at sites with different visual appeal including young and old trees, streams, bridges, clearcuts, and viewpoints. Michael is the owner of Lightbox Photographic in Astoria. He specializes in forest photography an helps people to explore their passion and vision through photography and printing. All photography skill levels are welcome! The journey will involve some easy walking.

Meet at the Berry Patch Restaurant in Westport for a cup of coffee and brief talk about the excursion at 10:30 am.

To sign up or ask questions, contact Pearl Rasmussen at 503-338-8933 or rasmussenpearl@gmail.com.

Cross-Country Trek Across Bastard Creek Terrestrial Anchor, Tuesday, July 2nd – This trip is for those unable to join our weekend outings and willing to do some serious cross-country hiking. The Bastard Creek Terrestrial Anchor is over 5,000 acres of important forest wildlife habitat just north of the old Salmonberry Railroad. We will explore this area, its flora and fauna, discuss what makes it a crucial habitat area, and enjoy a day convening with nature.

For more information, or to register, please email NCSFC Organizer Chris Smith.

Sunset at Cedar Butte, Wednesday, July 24th – The Cedar Butte Trail is a short but difficult hike to a beautiful panoramic in the Tillamook State Forest. The view includes significant acreage of High Value Conservation Area to the West. We will make the trip after work in the evening to catch sunset over the Pacific before descending at dusk.

For more information, or to register, please email NCSFC Organizer Chris Smith.

Looking East from Cedar Butte

Looking East from Cedar Butte

Please visit forestlegacy.org to learn more and be sure to “like” us on Facebook!


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