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Forestry Board calls for help from public to achieve sustainable forests
Contact: Rod Nichols
503-945-7425, rnichols@odf.state.or.us
Are Oregon’s forests being managed sustainably? A set of indicators developed with broad public input suggests that they aren’t, and the Oregon Board of Forestry is inviting the public to help shape a plan to improve the health and productivity of our public and private forests.
“Based on Oregonians’ own indicators of sustainable forest management, our forests are facing some significant challenges,” said John Blackwell of Portland, who chairs the board. “We’re updating our Forestry Program for Oregon, a broad plan to ensure that we’ll always have healthy forests providing a full range of benefits. We hope Oregonians will offer their input along the way.”
The Board of Forestry is a citizen panel tasked with overseeing forest policy statewide. The Forestry Program for Oregon is maintained on an eight-year cycle, with the next update due in 2011.
A 90-day public comment period for the draft 2011 Forestry Program for Oregon will begin on Oct. 1 and run through Dec. 31, 2010. A public review draft of the document, along with supporting information and instructions for submitting comment, can be found on the board’s website, www.oregonforestry.gov/.   
The update comes as Oregon’s forests face major challenges, including:
  • Fragmentation and conversion –  Rising real estate values and inability to derive sufficient income from managing their forestlands are driving more owners to consider selling forests for other uses. This often means permanent loss of forest values such as wildlife habitat, clean water, and timber production.
  • Encroachment - Oregon’s population continues to expand into forested areas. This can increase the incidence of wildfire, drive up firefighting costs, and create conflicts – for instance among neighbors primarily interested in the residential value of their lands and those whose goals include timber harvest. 
  • Invasive species – A long-term warming trend has heightened the threat of disease outbreaks and insect infestations. The altered conditions are also more favorable to invasive plant species that compete with native vegetation.
  • Declining health of federally owned forestlands – These lands make up 60 percent of Oregon’s forested acres, and large expanses in drier parts of Oregon need thinning and other treatments to restore their health and reduce their vulnerability to severe fires.
  • Difficulties in rural, forest-dependent communities – These include high unemployment and insufficient revenue to fund local services.

The draft Forestry Program for Oregon update proposes specific goals and objectives to address the current problems, and to set forests on a pathway to provide a steady flow of multiple benefits for Oregonians. The document’s goals are linked to 19 indicators of sustainable forest management endorsed by the board. Using available data, the indicators set desired trends and monitor progress. The indicators are intended to point to a future that includes attributes like these:
  • There is no net loss in the area of Oregon non-federal wildland forest compared to 2010 levels.
  • Forest-related revenues and employment contribute significantly to Oregon’s economy
  • Water quality and the biological health of forest streams is stable or improving.
  • Production and commercial value of Oregon wood and paper products is stable or increasing.
  • The number of native forest plant and animal species at risk is decreasing.
  • No invasive species on Oregon’s “100 Most Dangerous List” are uncontained in the forests, and acreage affected by invasives is stable or decreasing.
  • Resiliency to wildfire is growing as excessive fuels are reduced on more forested acres.
State Forester Marvin Brown said Oregon is a leader in creating an overarching vision for the sustainability of public and private forests, and in using indicators to monitor conditions and trends.
“I invite Oregonians to take a look at the new draft Forestry Program for Oregon and to offer their comments,” he said. “Forests are immensely important in our state, and this is an opportunity to help make sure that they’re healthy and productive well into the future.”
Forestry Program for Oregon-related questions and suggestions may be directed to David Morman, Oregon Department of Forestry, 2600 State St., Salem, Oregon 97310, 503-945-7413, email: dmorman@odf.state.or.us.