Working Forests

ODF manages over 800,000 acres of forestlands across Oregon. These state forestlands are actively managed under forest management plans to provide economic, environmental, and social benefits to Oregonians. Timber sales on these forests produce jobs and revenue that funds counties, local districts, and schools throughout the state. These forests also offer recreation and educational opportunities and provide essential wildlife habitat and clean water.

About

Before the 1930s, nearly all of the land that is today part of the Clatsop State Forest was in private ownership. Logging camps, railroads, and lumber mills were prevalent in Clatsop County due to the demand for lumber during World War I.

As tracts of timber were cut, the logged land were given to the counties in exchange for paying taxes. In 1936, Clatsop County became the first county in Oregon to deed its forestlands to the state to manage in exchange for part of the revenue generated from timber sales.

The Forest Acquisition Act, passed in 1939, further encouraged counties to deed the foreclosed lands to the Oregon Department of Forestry, giving rise to the state forest system we have today. By 1957, Clatsop County had transferred 141,000 acres to the state.

In 1973, the Oregon Board of Forestry formally dedicated 154,000 acres of forestland as the Clatsop State Forest. Today, the forest provides timber products important to local economies, wildlife habitat, and a place for people to enjoy.​

Nestled in the Coast Range, the Tillamook State Forest sits in the northwest corner of Oregon, between Portland and the coast. Whatever your interest, the Tillamook State forest holds an abundance of opportunities for discovery, exploration, and learning.

The Tillamook State Forest encompasses the same area as the historic Tillamook Burn, the series of large fires that began in 1933 and struck at six-year intervals through 1951, burning a combined total of 355,000 acres. The fires had profound environmental, economic and social repercussions for the coastal counties of northwest Oregon. 

 

In the years since the fires, foresters, professional tree planters and volunteers have worked to reestablish the forest and its many resources. Oregon voters passed a constitutional amendment in 1948 authorizing $12 million in bonds to rehabilitate the land. In total, helping hands planted 72 million seedlings giving the burned-over landscape a new start. The Tillamook Burn was officially renamed the Tillamook State Forest by Oregon Governor Tom McCall on July 18, 1973.​

 

Today, this hand-made forest is a healthy, productive, and sustainable ecosystem that provides a full range of social, economic and environmental benefits to Oregonians. The forest is managed by the Oregon Department of Forestry out of two district offices, one in Forest Grove and one in Tillamook, with an additional field office in Columbia City.The Tillamook Forest Center offers fascinating exhibits, outdoor trails, progams for families and students, along with recreational information for forest visitors.

For more specific information about recreation on the Tillamook State Forest, visit the Tillamook State Forest blog.​​

​​​Private timber companies harvested most of the forest in the Santiam Canyon between 1880 and 1930. By the 1930’s and 1940’s with the land either logged over or burned by wildfire, many of the timber companies which owned the land saw little value in the forest. Many landowners let their land return to the counties for delinquent taxes while others sold it to the county for a minimal amount. The Forest Acquisition Act, passed in 1939, encouraged counties to deed the foreclosed lands to the Oregon Department of Forestry in exchange for a share of future timber harvest revenues. 

By the time the state took ownership, much of the forest already was naturally restocked with a native mix of seedlings. The only part of the Santiam State Forest that was planted by the Department of Forestry was the area burned by the 1951 Sardine Creek Fire, which burned approximately 21,400 acres northeast of Mehama. ​

Today, the forest is divided into several large blocks of land and numerous smaller parcels along Highway 22, approximately 20 miles from Salem. The Santiam State Forest encompasses more than 47,000 acres in the foothills of the Cascades, and is managed by the North Cascade District, within three counties: Clackamas, Marion, and Linn. ​​​​

The Elliott State Forest is located east of Reedsport, in south coastal Oregon. The 93,000-acre forest became the first of six State Forests in 1930, when scattered tracts of Common School Land within national forest boundaries owned by the State were traded for one contiguous block of forest land. The creation of the forest was the culmination of the 1912 vision of Governor Oswald West and State Forester Francis Elliott.​ 

About 90 percent of the forest is managed by ODF on behalf of the State Land Board and the Department of State Lands. Net revenues from timber sales on these lands benefit the state’s Common School Fund​.​

The Gilchrist State Forest is Oregon's newest state forest and was dedicated in June 2010. 

The Gilchrist forest tract, and the town of Gilchrist, was established in 1938. The current Gilchrist State Forest was part of larger timber holdings owned by the Gilchrist Timber Company for most of the 20th century. The community of Gilchrist was among Oregon’s last operating “company towns,” serving as the site of the company sawmill and home to many of its workers. 

The Gilchrist family sold the property and mill in 1991 to Crown Pacific, which liquidated the forest to pay debt and eventually entered bankruptcy in 2003. The land, which once supported expanses of large Ponderosa pine trees, was heavily harvested in the early 1990s, following the Gilchrist Timber Company sale. The area was replanted as required by Oregon’s Forest Practices Act; as a result, most of the trees in the Gilchrist forest are about 20 years old. 

The State of Oregon purchased the property in March 2010 from Fidelity National Timber Resources, which had owned it since 2006. The purchase was financed by bond sales, to be repaid over 20 years using proceeds from the Oregon Lottery. ​​

Located near the southeastern corner of Crater Lake National Park, the Sun Pass State Forest is made up of beautiful pine and fir forests and mountain meadows. The Sun Pass is located 40 miles north of Klamath Falls, Oregon . It is the largest single block of Oregon state forestry land east of the Cascade Mountains, and is managed by the Klamath-Lake District. 

The State of Oregon purchased the original 14,450 acres of Sun Pass State Forest from Yawkey, Woodson, Ourbacker, and Algoma Lumber Company in 1943. In 1944, Klamath County deeded an additional 480 acresto the Board of Forestry to expand the Sun Pass unit. In 1947 and 1948, the Oregon Board of Forestry bought two more parcels of private land which were added to Sun Pass. In the 1970s and 1980s, the State of Oregon and the Winema National Forest (now the Fremont-Winema National Forests) agreed on a series of forest land exchanges to expand the contiguous area of Sun Pass. The state gave up a number of small outlying parcels in exchange for 4,401 acres of United States Forest Service land adjacent to the main area of Sun Pass. These exchanges completed the expansion and consolidation of Sun Pass State Forest.​​

ODF also owns and manages other smaller parcels of forestland on the West Oregon, Western Lane, and Southwest Oregon districts, located primarily in the Coast Range near Corvallis, Eugene and south to the California border. These forestlands are managed for a range of benefits and values -- which by statute we call "Greatest Permanent Value" -- including economic, environmental and social benefits.​

​​Management & planning

​State forests contain many resources such as streams, recreation sites, and unique wildlife habitat that are managed and protected under state forests’ policies and forest management plans. These areas are highlighted through the “Forestland Management Classification System” (OAR 629-350-005) adopted by the Board of Forestry in 1998 to ensure a range of benefits would result from an area’s management emphasis. The current FLMCS has been applied to approximately 800,000 acres of state forestland through four land management classifications, which include:

  1. High value conservation areas: areas managed specifically for conservation, emphasizing protection of old growth trees, endangered species and habitat, rare plants, and water quality, among other emphases. HVCAs comprise approximately 120,000 acres of total state forestland.

  2. Special use areas: areas managed for heritage sites and cultural resources, utility rights of way, and rock quarries, among others. Special use areas comprise nearly 80,000 acres of total state forestland.

  3. Focused stewardship: forestland managed for a specific purpose or resource, including recreation, streams and rivers, steep slope areas, and timber production, among other uses. Focused stewardship areas approximately 510,000 acres of state forestland.

  4. General stewardship: forestland that does not fit into one of the other three categories and can be managed for a variety of emphases. General stewardship areas more than 150,000 acres of total state forestland.

The land classifications can overlap, so an area classified because it is a recreation site, may also be classified because it is a riparian zone and it contains a heritage site. Land classification areas receive a complete evaluation during each major revision of ODF district implementation plans. In addition, interim changes can be made to FLMCS through District Annual Operations Plans. 

Please note that this state forest classification system is different from the forestland classification process related to wildfire risk in the urban interface that conducted by the Protection from Fire Program.

Long-range forest management plans provides overall direction for managing the state forests in the planning area. It takes a broad, integrated resource management approach to planning. These plans presents goals and strategies for managing resources found on state forest lands. Further, it advances a specific set of strategies designed to integrate the management of several key resources (timber, fish and wildlife, and forest health). It is based on the premise that these are not mutually exclusive resources that must be traded off against each other; these are interrelated resources that can be managed in an integrated manner to achieve multiple benefits.​

​Northwest Oregon is current undergoing a revision to its forest management plan. For more information, please visit the project planning page​​.​

Each district in the planning area develops an implementation plan, which describes in more detail how the management strategies described in the forest management plan will be applied on that district. These plans describe forest management activities such as timber harvest, road construction and maintenance, reforestation and young stand management, recreation, aquatic habitat restoration, and protection strategies for species of concern. These plans will be revised at least every ten years or sooner, if new technical information or changing conditions may call for updates to individual district implementation plans.​

Each district prepares annual operations plans that are designed to achieve the harvest objectives identified in the implementation plan. These plans show the location and nature of management activities that are proposed for a given fiscal year and are the most detailed level of planning conducted by the Oregon Department of Forestry.

Initial annual operations plans are developed by district staff. These initial plans are then reviewed by resource specialists from the program staff and the area staff to ensure consistency with the relevant district implementation plan, the goals and strategies of the forest management plan, and any other relevant policies and laws. Resource specialists involved in plan review include the geotechnical specialist, silviculturist, forest engineer, wildlife and fisheries biologists, recreation coordinator, and others on a case by case basis. Activities that affect fish and wildlife habitat are reviewed by Oregon Department of Fish, while harvest operations that may influence threatened and endangered species shared with the Wildlife and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Harvesting and other ground disturbing activities are reviewed by an archaeologist with Oregon Department of Transportation for the presence of cultural resources. Finally, the districts share the draft plans with tribal governments.

Below are the links for the current annual operations plan for each district. If you would like a copy of an annual operations plan from a previous fiscal year, please contact the district.

Conservation & restoration​

State forests provide habitat for hundreds of species of fish and wildlife in addition to meeting our scenic and economic benefits. 
 

On Oregon state forests, a 'take-avoidance' policy is in place to meet the requirements of the federal Endangered Species Act to reduce the potential for harming threatened or endangered species.    

The streams, rivers and lakes provide habitats for a variety of fish species. The federal government has listed some populations of coho salmon, Chinook salmon, chum salmon, steelhead trout and the Oregon chub as threatened or endangered species. 

Listing status for fish and wildlife can be found here on the ODF&W website​

Marbled Murrelet​​​

State forests are managed to produce sustainable harvests to maintain forest health, develop habitat and generate predictable revenue. 

On westside forests, a technical approach called structure based management is being used.  Structure-based management uses harvesting techniques – thinnings and well-planned clearcuts – to help forests more quickly evolve into older stages. This type of active management accelerates the natural maturing process of a forest. Structure is trees, both small and large, standing dead trees (snags), down wood (decaying logs) and other vegetation such as shrubs. All these components are important to wildlife. 

Most of the Eastern Oregon Region’s state forests have an “uneven-aged” structure with trees of many species, sizes and ages. Selective harvesting is used to maintain or improve uneven-aged stand structure. The harvesting reduces the density of the stand, alters tree types and creates openings for new seedlings. It favors healthy trees of desirable species. Uneven-aged management results in high timber production, a visually pleasing forest cover, lower reforestation costs, and a biodiversity of wildlife habitat. ​​

State forest management plans (FMPs) include an Aquatic and Riparian Strategy for implementing habitat restoration projects. The FMPs establish several principles that guide habitat restoration activities and priorities. Restoration projects are tracked regularly and accomplishements are reported below.

All state forests

Elliott State Forest 

Sun Pass State Forest

Aquatic, riparian areas and wetlands are protected on state forests with a combination of site specific and landscape strategies. These strategies is to maintain or restore the key ecological functions of aquatic, riparian, and upland areas that directly influence freshwater habitat of aquatic species within the context of the natural disturbance regimes that created habitat for these species.

Site specific strategies are designed to maintain and restore aquatic-riparian functions while the landscape strategies address larger watershed scale functions. This blended approach seeks to emulate disturbance patterns in both upslope and riparian areas. ​

Riparian management areas are established immediately adjacent to waterways to protect aquatic resources. Within these areas, special management considerations and operational restrictions apply. Landscape strategies are also used and include:

  • Managing thirty to fifty percent of the forest landscape for complex structure
  • Applying best-management-practices when constructing, managing, and hauling on roads
  • A risk-based approach to landslide processes​
In addition to the site-specific and landscape strategies described above, northwest and southwest Oregon state forest management plans implement a set of species of concern strategies to further maintain and enhance habitat for species of concern. The list of species and associated strategies vary throughout the state and reflects newly listed threatened, endangered, or sensitive species as designated by ODFW, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Federal Lists: 

State Lists: 

Watershed analysis is another landscape strategy and a key piece in determining current conditions of riparian and aquatic habitats and in guiding management to address limiting factors. ODF conducts watershed analysis projects in five watersheds containing large percentages of state forest land. These projects evaluated the interactions between management and a watershed’s physical and biological processes. Information provided by completed watershed analyses is used to inform district implementation plans. 

​​Research & monitoring
 

Photo: Clouds hover over southwest Oregon's forest 

Resources

Contact

State Forests Division
2600 State Street
Salem, OR 97310
Phone: 503-945-7207