FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jeff Hickman, Conservation Organizer, Sierra Club
Donald Fontenot, State Forest Issue Coordinator, Oregon Chapter Sierra Club
In 4-2 vote, Board of Forestry adopts plan for massive logging increases, which makes 100,000 acres of ‘complex’ older forest habitat available for new clearcutting on state forest lands in coming years
Salem, OR: Even with timber production from Oregon’s private and federal forests stagnating due to weak demand, low prices and a collapsed housing market, the Oregon Board of Forestry has adopted a change that would boost logging on state-owned forests at the expense of recreation, clean water, and fish and wildlife.
A large group of concerned fisherman and conservations rallied outside at the Board of Forestry meeting and testified against the shift in management during the hearing. Many of them brought their boats from across the state to the Salem meeting to display the economic benefits that healthy fisheries have on Oregon’s economy.
The Forestry Board in a 4-2 vote adopted a process to allow the State Forester to reduce the amount of ‘complex’ older forest from 50 percent to 30 percent of the forest and expand the acreage open to clearcut logging from 50 to 70 percent of the landscape. This change would add 100,000 acres into the rotation for new clearcut logging, which some Board members said should only be done after a thorough outside scientific peer-review to assess the negative consequences to fisheries and wildlife.
Fishermen and conservation groups contend this would result in excessive timber harvest on the state’s 518,000 acres of public forest – primarily in the coastal Tillamook and Clatsop state forests — at the expense of every other interest these lands are used for. These groups point to a recent state study that demonstrates that proposed logging increases are 38 percent higher than what is necessary to maintain fish and wildlife habitat.
“Increasing timber harvest when prices are at a historic low is like selling off your retirement when the market hits bottom. Instead, the Oregon Department of Forestry should be investing in its biological equity rather than cashing it in because of political pressure” said Donald Fontenot, the State Lands Issue Coordinator of the Oregon Chapter, Sierra Club.
“They need to look at what adding 100,000 acres to clearcut rotation is going to do to wildlife,” including the federally protected northern spotted owl, marbled murrulet and certain populations of coho and chinook salmon, Fontenot said. “There’s no way you can have this many clearcuts and not have landslides and affect these species.”
“These two forests are within an hour’s drive of 2 million people,” said Bob Van Dyk of the Wild Salmon Center. “There’s hiking, biking and off-road vehicles, and some of best salmon runs in the lower 48 states come out of these streams. So those are good reasons for multiple use up there.”
Currently, about half of the land within the two state forests is open for clearcutting, while the remaining area is managed to allow for the development of a mature, complex forest structure.
According to Noah Greenwald, biodiversity program director the Center for Biological Diversity, “Increasing logging in Oregon’s coastal forests will harm streams and further endanger dozens of species like spotted owls, coastal cutthroat trout, red tree voles and coho salmon. Increased logging will only engender controversy and possibly litigation to ensure that federal environmental laws like the Endangered Species Act and Clean Water Act are enforced in state forests.