Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Oregon Department Of Forestry Releases New Management Plan For Tillamook And Clatsop State Forests

Forestry Dept releases plans to implement new mgmt direction in Tillamook, Clatsop State Forests
Dan Postrel 503-945-7420

The Oregon Department of Forestry on Tuesday announced new implementation plans for management of 250,000 acres of state-owned forestland in Clatsop and Tillamook counties, carrying out revised direction from the state Board of Forestry.The board’s direction is contained in the 2010 Northwest Oregon State Forest Management Plan.ODF’s implementation of the board’s direction raises the annual harvest goal about five percent above recent averages, while continuing to protect streams and wildlife, and to create a more natural mosaic of forest conditions in what is now a largely uniform, younger forest landscape.The implementation plans use a phased approach for increasing harvest, deferring some harvest projects for up to two years. This provides an opportunity to re-evaluate how the deferred harvests may contribute to complex forest structure, and to wildlife and aquatic habitats, in the future. It also creates a window of opportunity as the board re-examines its performance measures and management strategies for state forests in northwestern Oregon. “This represents another step as we continually refine our management in response to evolving scientific knowledge and changing public needs and interests,” State Forester Doug Decker said.The board sets overarching goals for managing Oregon’s state forests, providing the foundation for detailed implementation plans, such as those released Tuesday.The lands covered by the plans, in the Tillamook and Clatsop state forests, came into state ownership primarily in the 1950s, after significant fires and logging activity. They were extensively replanted during the early years of public ownership, and are managed today to provide a mix of social, economic and environmental benefits.Two-thirds of the revenue generated from timber sales goes to local counties; the rest funds forest management and fire protection on the lands.“Oregonians find much to value in their state forests – wildlife, clean water, recreation, economic benefits and more,” Decker said. “Understandably, there’s a high level of interest in how these forests are managed. These implementation plans move us in the near-term toward some new goals, while leaving options open for the mid- and long-term to shape the best management strategies for the future.”Last year, the forestry board revised the management plan it had adopted for northwestern Oregon’s state forests in 2001. The changes arose from updated scientific and technical information, and from concerns about the original plan’s ability to achieve economic expectations. In addition, the board adopted performance measures for state forests, including specific performance targets for the Clatsop and Tillamook forests.The board’s action in 2010 included raising timber sale revenue goals by 5 percent to 15 percent over the next decade, and reducing a long-term goal for creating older stands with features of more complex forest habitats, such as multi-layered canopies.The new goal, addressed in the implementation plans released Tuesday, is to create such stands across 17 percent to 20 percent of the landscape in 20 years, potentially increasing to 30 percent to 50 percent in the long term.Foresters add habitat diversity by using clearcuts to create forest openings and to establish new stands, and by thinning other stands to develop understory vegetation (layering) and to allow the remaining trees to grow larger more quickly.The plans build in integrated wildlife protection strategies, such as leaving downed wood, green trees and stream buffers, with more specific measures for sensitive fish and wildlife species.The plans announced Tuesday cover about half of the 518,000 acres in the Clatsop and Tillamook state forests. A new implementation plan for the remaining acreage is still being developed.These forestlands are among Oregon’s most productive, growing more wood each year than is harvested. Managing them to provide a sustainable flow of multiple benefits, as required by Oregon law, is a matter of continuous learning and adjustment, Decker said.The phase-in announced Tuesday provides an opportunity for the forestry board to take stock of current management approaches and of its performance measures, which describe the desired mix of forest benefits.“Change and uncertainty are our constant, natural companions in management of these forests,” Decker said. “We’re working hard to find the best path forward today, while keeping options open for the future.”

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