(Salem, OR) — Governor Kitzhaber visited the Tillamook State Forest on Monday for an up-close view of conservation work underway in state-owned forests. After hiking to a streamside restoration project adjacent to the Gales Creek Campground, the Governor spoke with Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) staff and community partners about the role of conservation and habitat enhancement in forest management.
"Conservation areas are a critical component of healthy, well-managed public forests," said Governor Kitzhaber. "They support our great coastal salmon runs and produce diverse wildlife and plant habitat. They provide clean water, carbon storage, and recreation values that are hard to replace elsewhere. I’m inspired and encouraged to see the Department, the Board of Forestry, and stakeholders working hard to sustainably manage and conserve these important areas for Oregonians."
The tour focused on restoration work conducted on Gales Creek to improve habitat for steelhead and other species. Statewide, ODF manages more than 140,000 acres of designated high value conservation areas. Under direction from the Board of Forestry, ODF manages these lands to conserve habitat and protect and enhance streams, rivers, wildlife habitat, and unique, threatened, or endangered plants. Video of the Governor's tour available here.
"High value conservation areas represent Oregon’s commitment to enhancing environmental benefits in state-owned forests," said Doug Decker, state forester and head of the Oregon Department of Forestry. "We are using the best available science and strong community partnerships to grow healthy forests and guarantee their benefits reach our children and beyond."
The tour included representatives from the Gales Creek Watershed Council, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, county commissioners, and members of the Alternative Forest Management Plan Stakeholder Group. All spoke about the importance of conservation benefits on state-owned forestlands.
In April, the Board of Forestry completed the high value conservation area designation first initiated in June 2013. The Board directed ODF to use the new designations as a way to increase the visibility of conservation work taking place on state-owned forests. ODF is conducting public outreach and developing tools to help the public learn about and explore these areas.
ODF manages state forests to produce a variety of benefits, including recreation, jobs and economic support for local communities through timber revenue, and environmental values such as clean air, water and habitat conservation. The Board of Forestry is working on a new forest management plan for northwest Oregon. A science review of the draft plan and review of public comments is underway. Board action on the next draft of the plan is scheduled for November. It will go through a final development, public review, and comment period in spring 2015.
Explore high value conservation areas on Oregon state forestlands:
Video of Governor’s visit to Gales Creek
Photographs of Governor’s visit to Gales Creek
ODF information for self-guided tours of state forest conservation areas
ODF State Forests Online Community to stay current on state forest issues
, Office of Governor Kitzhaber, 503-559-1277