An in-depth series in the Oregonian exposes damaging mismanagement of Oregon’s state forests.
The new “Failing Forestry” series in Oregon’s largest statewide newspaper details chronic mismanagement at the Oregon Department of Forestry. The failures are costing Oregonians prime fish and wildlife habitat, threatening drinking water, and encroaching on some of the state’s favorite recreation areas.
The latest installment on October 20 laid bare the forestry department’s attempts to harvest its way out of budget problems by:
- Boosting harvest rates to record levels and targeting the oldest and most ecologically diverse stands for clearcutting.
- Shrinking recreation staff and shrinking forest investments.
- Playing a shell game with conservation areas in 2018. The Oregonian reports that ODF designated this place centered on a parking lot as a new conservation area while this rare older forest was opened to clearcutting. See shrinking conservation commitments and some shell game details through these maps and photos the Oregonian created.
- Stonewalling of Board of Forestry members who want data on costs and sustainable harvest levels.
“They basically opened up some of the fattest, juiciest, most accessible stands of trees they have to clearcutting,” WSC’s Oregon policy director Bob Van Dyk told the Oregonian. “Our overarching concern is that this is unsustainable.”
The poor management centers on the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests on Oregon’s North Coast. These areas are home to six salmon strongholds that hold some of the best remaining runs of salmon and steelhead in the Lower 48. The 500,000 acres of forestland also supply drinking water to 500,000 Oregonians.
The latest documented mismanagement, poor public relations, and inattention to conservation at the forestry department adds to earlier stories about cutting around drinking water supplies on state land without notifying the water users. The Oregonian also wrote about severe problems in the fire financing program, which included the revelations that ODF is raiding state forest funds to cover fire costs while it struggles to process boxes of old fire invoices for reimbursement from the federal government—invoices dating back to 2015.
State Board of Forestry members have recently been working to get to the root of the problems, but have been stonewalled by the department in requests for information.
On requests related to potentially soaring costs from pensions in the forestry department, board member Jim Kelly said, “I never got anything useful. I don’t know the answer.”