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Criterion 4 Indicator 19
Area and Percent of Forest Land Managed Primarily for Protective Functions, E.G., Watersheds, Flood Protection, Avalanche Protection, Riparian Zones
Water is important for domestic use, irrigation, and wildlife. Forest land is the primary source for water in Oregon. Forest practices, especially roads and timber harvesting, can reduce water quality by adding sediment or increasing temperature. The area of land managed under protective designations is one indicator of the importance placed on water quality by society.

Can This Indicator Be Quantified?
There are many federal land use designations that prohibit or limit timber harvesting and road building (see Map 19-1). Some land use designations, such as riparian reserves, are designed specifically to maintain water quality. Other designations, like wilderness areas, are designed to accomplish several goals. The table below shows, for forest lands in Oregon, the acres in all land use designations that either limit timber harvesting or road building activities that could potentially impact water quality. In total, about 30 percent of Oregon’s forest lands have some designation that provides protection for water quality.
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Table 19-1. Forest land with restrictions on timber harvesting and road building, in Oregon.
Timberland with Restrictions on Timber Harvesting and Road Building
Status For Timber Harvesting and Road BuildingAcres% of Timberland
No Timber Harvest, No New Road Building2,208,8527.90%
  - Wilderness Areas  
  - Administratively Withdrawn Areas  
Limited Timber Harvest, No New Road Building3,126,87811.20%
  - Key Watersheds  
No Timber Harvest, Limited Road Building424,3231.50%
  - National Park  
  - National Monuments  
  - Wildlife Refuges  
Limited Timber Harvest, New Road Construction2,670,5989.50%
  - Late-successional Reserves  
  - Adaptive Management Areas  
In addition to land use designations that protect water quality, both federal and private forest lands have protections for riparian areas, those lands closest to the streams. On non-federal lands, the Oregon Forest Practices Act (FPA) focuses on retaining vegetation and avoiding ground disturbances to protect water quality. The FPA bases the requirements for riparian management area (RMA) widths on the stream size and the beneficial uses that are present (see table below). No timber harvesting is allowed within the first 20 feet of the RMA, on all but small, non-fish-bearing streams. Harvest is limited in the rest of the RMA, and conifers must be left standing, leaving a condition similar to mature forests, as measured by total basal area. For small perennial streams without fish or domestic water use, the FPA protects the bed and banks from damage by logging, but conifer trees do not have to be left. 
Table 19-2. Riparian management area (RMA) width requirements for each side of the stream, under the Oregon Forest Practices Act.
RMA Width Requirements For Each Side Of The Stream Under The FPA
Types of Beneficial Use
Stream SizeFishDomestic WaterNeither
Large(>23’)100 Feet70 Feet70 Feet
Medium (8’-23’)70 Feet50 Feet50 Feet
Small (<8’)< />50 Feet20 FeetVaries
Note: Stream sizes are approximate.
On federal lands, riparian reserves are designated to protect water quality; timber harvest is prohibited and ground disturbances are not allowed. The reserve’s width is based on the presence of fish and whether the stream is permanent or intermittent (see table below). Riparian reserve widths are determined by the average maximum height of the tallest trees in the area, "site-potential tree height", or a minimum width requirement.
Table 19-3. Riparian reserve width requirements for federal forest lands, for each side of the stream.
Federal Riparian Reserve Width Requirements
(Each side of the Stream)
Stream ClassRiparian Reserve Width
Fish BearingAverage height of 2 site potential trees or 300 feet
Permanent Non-Fish BearingAverage height of 1 site potential tree or 150 feet
IntermittentAverage height of 1 site potential tree or 100 feet
Table 19-4 shows the estimated acreage reserved for water quality, in riparian reserves or RMAs, on forest lands in Oregon. The table is based on separate estimates made by Lorensen and Birch (1994), and Johnson, et. al., (1993). To avoid double counting acres in other protective designations, the acres in riparian protection categories are estimated only for forest lands where timber harvesting is allowed without special restrictions.
Table 19-4. Estimated acreage reserved for water quality, on forest lands in Oregon.
RegionFederal Matrix (% in Riparian)Federal Matrix (total acres)Federal Matrix (riparian acres)Nonfederal (% in Riparian)N. F. (total acres)N. F. (total riparian acres)
  3,580,6291,446,430 10,120,900355,943

The acreage of forest land in reserved categories has been steadily growing over time. In general, before 1960 national parks were the only forest lands with restrictions. Most of the wilderness areas were designated in 1964 and 1984. Key watersheds, late-successional reserves, and adaptive management areas were established in 1993.
The area in riparian protection categories has grown over the last few years as the Oregon Forest Practices Act and federal land management plans have given more importance to the protection of water quality. Federal wild and scenic river designations can also help to protect water quality.

Data Source and Availability
Data was obtained from the following sources for this indicator. This data is readily available from state and federal land management agencies.

Reliability of Data
For general statewide land classification, the data is very reliable.


Recommended Action for Data Collection

Areas of critical environmental concern (ACEC) — Designated areas administered by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. ACECs are areas on BLM lands that contain one or more of the following attributes:
  • Significant historic, cultural, or scenic value.
  • A fish or wildlife resource; for example, habitat for endangered or threatened species.
  • A natural process or system that is rare, fragile, or threatened.
  • A natural hazard area (e.g., avalanche, landslide, dangerous cliffs, or flooding).
In addition, these areas must have substantial significance to become an ACEC. The management of the areas varies according to the type of important resource being reserved. In general, grazing rights, if already established, are allowed to continue but may be limited. Otherwise, these areas are to be preserved or reserved.
Experimental forest — Designated areas administered by the U.S. Forest Service. Areas designated and managed for research into ecological processes that influence forest ecosystem health. There are two experimental forests in Oregon, the H. J. Andrews and the Starkey.
National monument — Designated area administered by the National Park Service or the U.S. Forest Service. There are three national monuments in Oregon. National monuments are managed similar to national parks.
The Antiquities Act of 1906 authorized the President to declare by public proclamation landmarks, structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest situated on lands owned or controlled by the government to be national monuments.
National park — Designated area administered by the National Park Service. Crater Lake National Park is the only national park in Oregon.
The mission of the National Park Service is "...to promote and regulate the use of the... national parks... which purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations." (National Park Service Organic Act of 1916)
National parks are generally large areas possessing nationally significant natural, cultural, or recreational resources. These areas generally contain a wide variety of attributes including significant historic assets. Hunting, mining, and consumptive activities (including timber harvest) are prohibited.
Research natural areas (RNAs) — Areas established and managed by the U.S. Forest Service. RNAs provide biodiversity reserves and are for "non-manipulative research, observation, and study" (Forest Service Manual 4063), and are not meant for uses that "directly or indirectly modify ecological process."
The level of acceptable use varies, depending on the fragility or the rarity of the ecosystem for a particular RNA and the objective for that RNA. In general, timber harvesting, grazing, and road building are prohibited, and motorized recreation and prescribed fire is limited.
Special interest areas — Areas administered by the U.S. Forest Service. These areas are recognized for special scenic, cultural, geological, botanical, zoological, paleontological, or other special values. Like the ACECs, these areas are managed primarily for the protection of their special features and secondarily for public use and enjoyment.
Wild and scenic rivers — Rivers and river segments may be proposed for listing to Congress by the Secretary of the Interior, Secretary of Agriculture, and by states. Congress makes the actual designations of rivers.
The National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act was enacted by Congress in 1968. The purpose of this act is to protect "certain selected rivers of the Nation which, with their immediate environments, possess outstandingly remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic, cultural, or other similar values, shall be preserved in free-flowing condition, and that they and their immediate environments shall be protected for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations." (National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, 1968)
The act provides blanket protection against federally licensed dams, diversions, and other on-river development on designated river segments. It also sets aside a quarter-mile-wide riparian corridor in which development is restricted on public lands. Private lands in designated wild and scenic corridors are generally open to development. Designations can be made for both whole rivers and river segments, and not just for rivers that are wild and pristine. Reaches of river with road access, private property, and other significant development can qualify as scenic or recreational segments, as long as they are freeflowing.
Once designated as wild and scenic, rivers are classified and administered (corresponding to the degree of pre-existing development) in one of the following categories.
Wild river areas — Those rivers or sections of rivers that are free of impoundments and generally inaccessible except by trail, with watersheds or shorelines essentially primitive and waters unpolluted. These represent vestiges of primitive America.
Scenic river areas — Those rivers or sections of rivers that are free of impoundments, with shorelines or watersheds still largely primitive and shorelines largely undeveloped, but accessible in places by roads.
Recreational river areas — Those rivers or sections of rivers that are readily accessible by road or railroad, that may have some development along their shorelines, and that may have undergone some impoundment or diversion in the past.
Wilderness area — Designated area administered by the U.S. Forest Service or BLM. The U.S. Forest Service manages 36 wilderness areas in Oregon, with a total of approximately 2.1 million acres.
Wilderness areas are managed "To secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness." (Wilderness Act of 1964)
Wilderness areas are defined by the Wilderness Act as those areas affected primarily by the forces of nature, possessing outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive type of recreation. These areas are federally owned, undeveloped, and generally over 5,000 acres in size. Wilderness areas contain ecological, geological, or other features of scientific, educational, scenic, or historic value, and are reserved and managed to allow natural ecological processes to operate freely. There are no timber harvests, road building, or motorized recreation allowed, and only limited grazing and prescribed burning is allowed. Mining is allowed only on claims established before the designation.
Wilderness study areas (WSA) — Areas being considered for Congressional designation as wilderness; and managed as wilderness in the interim by the responsible federal agency, either BLM or the U.S. Forest Service.
Wilderness areas are managed to protect their wilderness characteristics. They must be at least 5,000 acres, or if smaller, be contiguous to lands that are already designated as wilderness. WSAs must generally appear to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature with the imprint of man substantially unnoticeable. A WSA must be roadless but does not have to possess outstanding opportunities for solitude. WSAs are managed in a manner so as not to impair their suitability for preservation as wilderness.
FEMAT — Forest Ecosystem Management Assessment Team. An interagency task force created after President Clinton’s Forest Conference held in Portland, Oregon in April 1993. FEMAT was authorized to develop a new approach to forest management and land allocation on federal forest lands in the range of the northern spotted owl, which includes federal lands in western Oregon, western Washington, and part of northern California. The team developed the following land use designations, in order to protect habitat for the endangered northern spotted owl, other threatened and endangered species, and old-growth-dependent species, on federal forest lands, and to allow the development of new forest management approaches.
Adaptive management areas (AMAs) — These areas are federal forest lands within the range of the northern spotted owl that have been designated as areas for the development and testing of new approaches for the integration and achievement of ecological, economic, and other social objectives. The U.S. Forest Service and BLM will work with other organizations, government entities, and private landowners to accomplish these objectives on AMAs.
Four adaptive management areas are established in Oregon:
  • Applegate — 268,600 acres.
  • Blue River — 153,200 acres.
  • Little River — 83,900 acres.
  • Northern Coast Range — 247,000 acres.
Administratively withdrawn — These reserved areas are identified in current national forest management plans at the district level, as having preferred recreational value and are not scheduled for timber harvest.
Congressionally withdrawn — These reserved lands have been reserved by Congress for specific purposes. Included in this category are national parks and monuments, wilderness areas, wild and scenic rivers, and national wildlife refuges. These categories were all established by separate laws, before FEMAT developed its new plan.
Key watersheds — These are watersheds designated within the range of the northern spotted owl to provide additional riparian area protection. Key watersheds are essential for maintaining and recovering habitat for at-risk stocks of anadromous salmonids and resident fish species.
No new roads will be constructed in the roadless areas of key watersheds. Outside the roadless areas, FEMAT recommends no net increase in roads. In other watersheds, a watershed analysis must be conducted before any land management activities can occur within any roadless areas in the watershed.
Late successional reserves (LSRs) — These reserved areas are designed to maintain a functional, interactive, late-successional and old-growth forest ecosystem. They serve as habitat for late-successional and old-growth related species such as the northern spotted owl.
In LSRs, thinning will be allowed in any stand that is less than 80 years old, in both natural and plantation stands. Salvage is permitted in areas larger than 10 acres that have been damaged by catastrophic events, such as fire, insects, or disease. Any thinning or silvicultural treatments inside reserves require review by an interagency team to ensure that the treatments are beneficial to the creation of late-successional forest conditions.
Matrix land — These lands are the remaining federal forest lands in the range of the northern spotted owl, that remain outside reserves (LSRs, riparian reserves), Congressionally withdrawn areas (national parks, monuments, wilderness areas), and administratively withdrawn areas (special interest areas, areas of critical environmental concern, research natural areas, etc.). Matrix lands are available for timber harvest at varying levels.
Management guidelines for matrix lands vary by geographic area. Examples of guidelines are requirements for the retention of snags and downed wood, retention of a specified volume of each cutting unit, or managing for stand spacing and rotation age.
National recreation area — This designation was established by Congress for the purpose of assuring and implementing the protection and management of public outdoor recreation opportunities. The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area is the only such area in the state.
National scenic area — This designation was established by Congress to protect areas of outstanding scenic beauty. Hells Canyon National Scenic Area is the only such area in Oregon.
National wildlife refuge — These areas are established by Presidential proclamations or by Congress for the protection of wildlife. There are 18 national wildlife refuges in Oregon.
Riparian reserves — These areas include portions of watersheds where riparian-dependent resources receive primary emphasis and where special standards and guidelines govern land use. On federal forest lands, every watershed within the range of the northern spotted owl has riparian reserves. In general, on federal forest lands, a riparian reserve is a buffer strip surrounding streams, wetlands, ponds, and lakes, and is generally considered as a "no cut" zone of 100 to 300 feet from the stream bank. Riparian reserves provide thermal cover (shade), soil stabilization, large down wood to the streams, and other ecological functions essential to healthy streams.

Selected References
Johnson, Norman K., and Sarah Crim, Klaus Barber, Mike Howell, Chris Cadwell. 1993. Sustainable harvest levels and short-term timber sales for options considered in the report of the Forest Ecosystem Management Assessment Team: methods, results, and interpretations. USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Region, Portland, OR. 96 pp.
Lorensen, Ted, and Kevin Birch. 1994. Economic analysis of proposed water classification and protection rules. Oregon Department of Forestry, Salem, OR. 61 pp.