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Olympic National Forest

Why do trees hate riddles?
Because they don’t like being stumped.

How do trees get online?
They just log in.

Why are trees the best networkers?
They’re constantly branching out!

Forest management got a tree-mendous (okay, I’ll stop) amount of consideration this spring. At the national level, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) considered a proposed rule to apply “land-health” standards to managing public BLM lands. The BLM oversees nearly 250 million acres of public lands. The proposed policy would elevate conservation goals to be on par with other uses such as logging. The US Forest Service is considering how to protect mature and old-growth forests as part of a strategy to improve the climate resilience of federally managed forests. Here in Oregon, the Board of Forestry is considering a Habitat Conservation Plan for State Forests. Lane County Audubon has submitted comments on these issues, urging protection of forests.

Why care about forests and forest management?

This list, by no means exhaustive, highlights some reasons. Intact healthy forests:
–provide critical habitat for fish, birds, and other wildlife. In the western United States, they provide habitat for over 3,000 species, many of which do not occur elsewhere.
–provide safe and accessible wildlife corridors across the landscape. This is critical for healthy gene flow, successful mating opportunities, securing resources throughout the seasons, and protecting large animals that range widely.
–promote climate resiliency by sequestering and storing carbon and maintaining healthy watersheds.
–increase resilience to the risks imposed by climate change and concurrent disease threats.
–reduce wildfire impacts and are more resilient to the impacts of wildfire.
–clean and filter water, providing clean drinking water.
–cool stream temperatures to promote salmon success and reduce algal blooms
–clean the air.
–reduce erosion and the spread of invasive species.
–mitigate storms, droughts, and other harsh weather impacts.
–provide opportunities for healthy outdoor recreation and solace. Data has shown that time spent in nature is good for both our physical (including immune health) and our mental wellbeing. Have you heard the term “forest-bathing”?
–improve local economies through recreation and tourism industries.

The comment period for the BLM and US Forest Service is now closed, and we hope for a good outcome where conservation measures are valued, especially for mature and old growth forests. In Oregon, the comment period for the June 7 meeting on the Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) for Oregon state forests is also officially closed. However, the Board is not making its decision until the fall, and we think it will be very important for Board members to hear from ordinary citizens in light of the heavy pressure from timber lobbies. The new HCP will determine wildlife habitat management in the 639,489 acres of western Oregon state forests for up to 70 years!

The proposed Habitat Conservation Plan was reached as a compromise solution after years of public input and debate between various stakeholders. Although part of the group of stakeholders that negotiated the draft HCP, the timber industry is now pushing to get rid of the compromise, erroneously claiming that it would cut jobs. In fact, HCP annual timber harvests are projected to be higher, as compared with typical harvest years.

One analysis (Department of Forestry) calculated that timber jobs would increase more than 40% in Tillamook County and 10% in Clatsop County. The draft HCP contains several alternative versions that vary in the amount of timber harvesting allowed. HCP Alternative 3 appears to be the most balanced, and is supported by the conservation community. It protects critical habitat for endangered Marbled Murrelets and Spotted Owls. Under this alternative, about 50 percent of the forest is designated for conservation, with substantial protections for wildlife habitat. It also provides for clean water, while offering recreational opportunities.

We encourage everybody to contact the Board of Forestry and urge Board members to adopt Alternative 3. Please email Chair Kelly and the Board at

An outpouring of support from Oregonians will show the Board that the public is paying attention and that we care about decisions affecting management of our public state forests.