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Criterion 6 Indicator 46
The viability and adaptability of forest-dependent communities, as they respond to changing economic conditions.
The economic well-being of forest-dependent communities is linked to the health of the forests, availability of timber, and the market for wood products. Since local communities care for the forest, the health of these communities ultimately affects forest conditions. Economic conditions are always changing, and it is essential that a community be able to adapt to those changing conditions. Communities that don’t adapt well may have higher unemployment, higher levels of domestic violence, more poverty, and other problems. A diverse economy enables the community to be more adaptable and flexible. When policymakers are considering changes that may affect forest resources and local economies, it is important to also consider how well forest-dependent communities can adapt to these changes.

Can This Indicator Be Quantified
Two indicators were used to assess the viability and adaptability of Oregon’s forest-dependent communities. The first indicator is a timber-dependency ratio, which was calculated at the county level. (Data is not available at the city level due to confidentiality reasons.) This ratio compares the percentage of forest-related employment in the county to the statewide percentage, as a general measure of the level of timber dependency. This indicator is useful for identifying areas and communities dependent on forests for their livelihood. A ratio between 1.0 and 2.5 is considered an intermediate level of dependency. Counties with a dependency ratio above 2.5 are considered highly timber dependent.
The second indicator is a "Distress Index," which is calculated at the city level. This index was developed by the Oregon Economic Development Department. The index is calculated by using an average of 8 measures to gauge the economic distress of Oregon’s 36 counties and 240 incorporated cities. An area is compared to the state as a whole on the following 8 parameters: unemployment rate, per capita personal income, average pay per worker, population change, percent of population receiving unemployment insurance benefits, industrial diversity based on distribution of employment by industry, percent of families in poverty, and employment change. The statewide index is 1.00. An index higher than 1.00 indicates greater distress. Once a county has been identified as timber-dependent, this indicator provides a basis for evaluating a city’s current condition and the degree to which community conditions and opportunities can meet the needs and expectations of local residents.
Some additional information is useful in evaluating community viability. The ability to adapt also depends on the community’s location relative to other sources of jobs and income. Communities within commuting distance of larger cities may be more adaptable than isolated communities. The quality of a community’s facilities, services, and infrastructure may also have a significant impact on its ability to adapt. Other important factors include the availability of other jobs and moneymaking opportunities such as tourism, recreation, or the use of other natural resources.
Map 46-1 shows timber-dependent counties and distressed cities. The table below lists these counties and cities.
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Table 46-1. Cities of concern in Oregon
Cities of Concern
BakerHainesJacksonButte Falls
BakerHalfwayJacksonGold Hill
BakerRichlandJacksonRogue River
ColumbiaPrescottJosephineCave Junction
CoosMyrtle PointKlamathBonanza
CurryPort OrfordKlamathMerrill
DouglasGlendaleLinnSweet Home
DouglasMyrtle CreekMorrowIrrigon
GrantLong CreekUnionCove
GrantPrairie CityWallowaJoseph
Hood RiverCascade LocksYamhillYamhill
Hood RiverHood River  
Cities of Concern: Located in Timber Dependent* County and rated as Distressed**
*Timber Dependent: Timber Dependency ratio of 1.0 or greater
**Distressed: Distress rating of 1.5 or greater

Oregon’s timber industry employment has been higher than the national average for many years. Although the wood products workforce declined from 20 percent of Oregon’s total employment in 1956 to about 8 percent in 1985, wood products employment in Oregon is still well above the national average of 1 percent (Seidel, 1993).
Many people and local governments are dependent on timber for their well-being. Although most of Oregon’s biggest cities are in the Willamette Valley, timber-dependent cities are much more likely to be found in eastern Oregon. Seidel (1993) identified 50 cities, out of a total of 156 cities in western Oregon, and 44 out of 85 cities in eastern Oregon as timber-dependent. Only 20 of the 94 timber-dependent cities were located in the Willamette Valley; and of these 20 cities, only 16 were located in metropolitan areas.
Oregon’s timber-dependent cities are usually smaller and more isolated than other cities. Eighty-one percent of timber-dependent cities had populations under 5,000, compared to 72.8 percent for other cities. During the 1980s when timber prices were low, timber-dependent cities lost population, with a negative growth rate of –0.6 percent, compared to a positive growth rate of 13.5 percent in other Oregon cities (Seidel, 1993).
The state’s timber-dependent cities have performed poorly on a number of economic indicators, compared to other Oregon cities. Seidel (1993) shows that incomes in timber-dependent cities fell during the period 1979-1989, declining by an average of 4.5 percent.
During those same years in other Oregon cities, incomes increased by 5 percent.
In 1990, timber-dependent cities had an average unemployment rate of 9.8 percent, compared to 7 percent in other Oregon cities. The timber-dependent cities had an average 63.8 percent of households with incomes below poverty level, compared with 55.1 percent of households below poverty levels in other cities. Timber-dependent cities also had a lower proportion of professional/managerial workers (2.9 percent less) and a greater proportion of adults with a high school education or less (8.7 percent more).

Data Source and Availability
The following data sources were used for this indicator.
Oregon Employment Department. 1996. Oregon covered employment and payrolls by industry and county. Research, Tax, and Analysis Office, Oregon Employment Department, Salem, OR.
Oregon Economic Development Department. 1998. Services and strategies for helping distressed communities in Oregon, Exhibit B, September, 1998.
The Oregon Economic Development Department maintains a list of economically distressed counties and cities on their web site: http://www.econ.state.or.us/distarea.htm

Reliability of Data
Timber-dependent counties were identified using a "forest products specialization ratio" calculated from Oregon Employment Department data. For each county, the payroll was calculated for three standard industrial classifications representing the timber industry (SIC 08, 24, and 26), and then divided by the total county payroll. This percentage was then divided by the state percentage, calculated from county totals, to give the county’s forest specialization ratio compared to the state. County totals may not match the state totals due to data omitted for confidentiality reasons.

Oregon employment and payroll data is available by county.

Recommended Action for Data Collection

The following criteria were used for timber-dependent communities (Seidel, 1993).
  • Decline in timber industry employment.
  • High rate of unemployment compared with the state.
  • A community’s demonstration that it had suffered or was likely to suffer severe economic decline.

Selected References
Seidel, Karen. 1993. Demographic and economic characteristics of Oregon’s timber-dependent communities. Oregon Profiles, Oregon State University Extension Service. 1 page.
USDA Forest Service, et. al., 1993. Forest Ecosystem Management: An Ecological, Economic, and Social Assessment. July 1993. Also known as the FEMAT Report. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region, Portland, OR.