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Hinkle Creek study improves awareness of forest health in Oregon
Image of tour participants looking over forest landscape in Douglas County, Oregon
August 4, 2009
Contact: Kevin Weeks (503) 945-7427
Members of the public, including elected officials and the seven appointed officials directed with setting forest policy for Oregon, received an update Thursday on how forests contribute to healthy streams.
Oregon Board of Forestry members were provided a field tour of the Hinkle Creek research project, a paired-watersheds forest study area located 30 miles northeast of Roseburg. A central message of Thursday’s tour: research helped shape past forest policy in Oregon, and research needs to continue to improve our understanding of forests.
The goal of the Hinkle Creek project is to research the effects of contemporary forest management practices on hydrology, water quality, fish health and aquatic habitat. The 4,820 acre watershed research area features several timber units harvested by Roseburg Forest Products during the past decade (and replanted as required by Oregon law) and several thousand additional acres set aside for resource conservation and long-term study.
The decade-long research project operates on forest land owned by Roseburg Forest Products and is a cooperative effort of Roseburg Forest Products, Oregon State University, Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, Douglas County, U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, Douglas Timber Operators, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, the Watersheds Research Cooperative and the Oregon Department of Forestry. Data collection at Hinkle Creek began in 2001 with baseline studies and is anticipated to conclude in 2011.
The walking tour on July 30th came six years after a similar event where officials toured a 2001 replanted harvest unit; what were young tree seedlings on the 2003 tour are now six-foot tall thriving Douglas firs. Tour participants included state senator Floyd Prozanski (D-Eugene), state representative Tim Freeman (R-Roseburg) and members of the Douglas County Board of Commissioners.
Watershed research is not new to Oregon’s forest policy. From 1959 through 1973, researchers conducted studies within the Alsea River watershed to assess the role forest management had on water quality. Many early research findings from the Alsea River study were incorporated in Oregon’s landmark 1971 Forest Practices Act, the first statewide forest management law in the nation.
The watershed research area is the subject of an award-winning video documentary, “Inquiry at Hinkle Creek” which is available on the Oregon Forest Resources Institute web site, www.ofri.org -- A new report on how Oregon’s forest research contributes to watershed health, Watershed Science at Work in Oregon’s Forests, is also available on request from the Oregon Forest Resources Institute.
Oregon’s forests are constantly changing, as is our understanding of forest science. The Oregon Department of Forestry seeks a balanced approach to management of Oregon’s forests for a mix of social, environmental and economic benefits.