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Find out who owns that tree first before you cut
Picture of holiday trees growing in an Oregon tree farm
 
December 9, 2009
Contact: Kevin Weeks (503) 945-7427
 
Holiday time in the Pacific Northwest is full of traditions, including collecting holly, mistletoe, pine cones and cutting your own tree for decorating. The Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) wants to remind Oregonians thinking of a ‘do-it-yourself’ holiday to check first if they can legally harvest items from the forest.
 
Oregon’s forested area of 30.5 million acres – roughly half of the state – is controlled by several different owners. About 60 percent of Oregon’s forests are under federal ownership, administered by the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs or other federal agencies. The State of Oregon owns 3 percent of our state’s forests, concentrated primarily in the 781,000 acres designated as State Forests but also encompassing lands owned by state agencies and universities. Local governments and tribal governments in Oregon own 619,000 acres or 2 percent.
 
The remaining 35 percent of forestlands are privately owned. Large industrial timber owners manage 6 million acres of forest while small woodland owners (including family-run forest holdings) own 4.7 million acres -- about 15 percent of the forested footprint of the state.

Where you can (and cannot) remove trees
Rules differ for removing trees from national forests, state or local government forests, and privately-owned forest lands.
 
"Forest products (including fire wood) may not be removed from Weyerhaeuser forestlands,” said Greg Miller, Oregon public affairs manager for Weyerhaeuser. “People interested in visiting and accessing our forestland should call our 24-hour Oregon Hunter and Recreation access hotline (1-888-741-5403).  Please call before you make the trip into the woods.”
 
Holiday decorative trees may be harvested by permit from federal forests; however trees cannot be harvested from Oregon’s State Forests, including the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests in northwest Oregon, Santiam State Forest east of Salem, Elliott State Forest near Reedsport and the Sun Pass State Forest near Klamath Falls. Additional information about permits for removing trees from federal land, including the National Forests within Oregon, is available from local offices of the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. Permits issued by USFS or BLM are valid only on federally-owned land in Oregon.
 
Permit requirements for removing products other than trees from state-owned forests vary from district to district; please contact your local ODF office for additional information. Contact information for Oregon Department of Forestry offices throughout the state is available on ODF’s web site.
 
Entering private land without consent of the landowner can result in a charge of Criminal Trespass, a misdemeanor offense, and Theft charges could result from items taken from privately-owned land without consent.
 
"We regret that frequent instances of trespass, theft, vandalism, trash dumping, and abuse of our forest road system require us to limit visitor access to our forestlands,” said Miller. “Please report such illegal activity when you see it."

Safety always a concern in the woods
An ongoing concern throughout the year is personal safety in Oregon’s forests. People enter Oregon’s forests for a variety of uses – most legal, but some not. Oregon’s private forest land is also popular for target shooting, illegal hunting, and harvesting other products from amongst the trees.
 
Two Oregon Department of Forestry fire employees on patrol in rural western Lane County in September had their state-owned fire engine struck by gunfire from an unknown source. Both employees were unhurt, despite their fire vehicle being struck twice by rounds from a high-powered rifle – including a shot through the windshield which would have likely struck one of the ODF staff had they not left the vehicle. While the September 2009 incident was an isolated occurrence and no suspects were identified following an investigation by the Oregon State Police and Lane County Sheriff’s Office, vigilance is recommended for everyone when heading into Oregon’s forests.
 
Weyerhaeuser officials stress the importance of calling ahead to the company’s 888-741-5403 number for more information when considering entering the company’s lands.
 
"Safety and forest resource protection are our top concerns when visitors access our forestlands,” said Miller. “Please listen carefully to the requirements, restrictions and prohibitions listed on the recorded message, which is updated as conditions change."

Keep safe this holiday season
 
  • Dress warmly and expect winter weather.
  • Have a plan – check weather conditions in the area, keep your pets at home and make sure you notify friends or family where you’re headed.
  • Make sure your vehicle is ready – Fill your fuel tank, carry tire chains, bring food, extra water, warm drinks, a shovel, a blanket, and a first-aid kit.
  • Handsaws, though more work, are preferred for forest safety use. Also remember rope and tarps for the drive home with your tree.
  • When you get where you’re going – park out of the way of other vehicles, ask for official help identifying which trees could be harvested, and pack out your own trash. Keep your permit or authorization with the tree for quick display.

More information on the Web
Tree Permits - Mt. Hood National Forest 
Tree Permits - Willamette National Forest 
 
U.S. Forest Service Region Six
 
Bureau of Land Management, Oregon State Office
 
Weyerhaeuser Molalla Tree Farm access permits