Campaign Update: We did it! A 17-mile stretch of Oregon’s Nehalem River is now officially a state scenic waterway. Governor Kate Brown signed the designation summer 2019, after receiving messages of encouragement from hundreds of WSC supporters and thousands of Oregonians.
The Scenic Nehalem River
The Nehalem River is an Oregon Coast gem that includes critical habitat for some of the best wild salmon and steelhead runs left in the Lower 48. It has long attracted Oregonians to hike, fish, camp, and float its clear waters. It’s also the North Coast’s longest river, aside from the mighty Columbia, and the Nehalem watershed includes important tributaries like the crystal clear Salmonberry River.
The Oregon Forest Conservation Coalition is working to designate the stunning 17-mile river segment from Henry Rierson Spruce Run Campground to the Cougar Valley State Park as a State Scenic Waterway.
The Scenic Waterways program was passed by ballot measure in 1970 in response to dam construction, suction dredge mining, and increasing development pressures on Oregon’s iconic rivers. It allows the state to reserve our natural waterways for their scenic, habitat and recreation values. After several rivers were initially designated, the program became largely dormant until 2016. Currently, only 22 river segments are designated as State Scenic Waterways in Oregon, which equates to less than 1% of the state’s rivers and streams.
The Nehalem is an ideal candidate for the designation, with old native forests, stunning trails, scenic waterfalls, and fish and wildlife habitat. The Nehalem is the largest “wild fish only” river on the Oregon Coast and is home to an unusually rich diversity of salmonids: three races of Chinook, some of the last chum on the coast, cutthroat trout, coho, and a race of extra large winter-run steelhead. Older forests along this stretch are also important habitat for endangered marbled murrelets, which nest on the limbs of big, old trees.
Danger of Clearcuts
Unfortunately, the Oregon Department of Forestry has recently proposed a large timber sale which would clear cut sections of the proposed scenic stretch. The Oregon Forest Conservation Coalition has asked the Department of Forestry to defer the timber sale in the river corridor and further review the proposal to open more than 750 acres of older forest to clearcutting in the region. If the Department of Forestry pursues the timber sale in the proposed Nehalem Scenic Waterway, it would not only be harmful to important salmon and marbled murrelet habitat, but also to the public who hike, fish, camp, and float the clear waters. Our partners at Trout Unlimited and Wild Salmon Center have also been asked to sit on an Oregon Parks advisory committee, which will help develop a management plan for the potential Nehalem Scenic Waterway designation.
We will continue to work to further our conservation efforts and ensure that our rivers and forests are protected for clean water, wildlife habitat, and special places to recreate in. The designation of the Nehalem River as a State Scenic Waterway will be an important step on that journey.Continue reading
A core member of the Oregon Forest ConservationCoalition has been selected for Willamette Week’s Give!Guide campaign. Through December 31st, make a contribution to Wild Salmon Center and you’ll earn exciting giving incentives through Give!Guide and a 40% off coupon to Patagonia Portland, WSC’s business partner.
Your Give!Guide donation will support the Oregon Forest Conservation Coalition’s work to safeguard wildlife habitat and clean drinking water in the Tillamook, Clatsop, and Elliott state forests. Every dollar you give will help protect critical salmon habitat, some of the last remaining older foreststands on the north coast, and our access to outdoor recreation.
Help us take advantage of this opportunity by making a Give!Guide contribution today, you’ll not only get a 40% off coupon to Patagonia Portland, you’ll also be entered to win a $500 shopping spree to Powell’s Books!
Visit WSC’s Give!Guide profile to read more and to view WSC’s video.Continue reading
In 2013, the Oregon Board of Forestry decided to examine alternative approaches to managing the Tillamook & Clatsop State Forests for improved conservation and financial viability. The decision to open the existing plan up stemmed from a lack of confidence in the long term financial viability of the Department of Forestry State Forest Division, which is currently almost entirely funded by logging on state forest lands.
The Board convened a group of stakeholders from the conservation community, timber industry, and counties to provide possible alternatives for managing the forests. These alternatives underwent review by a team of scientists who issued an assessment report. The Board then recognized that a better understanding of the inventory of the forest (how much wood is on the landscape) was necessary to continue. As inventory modeling was underway, the Linn County clearcut lawsuit abruptly interrupted the planning process.
Now, the Board is picking up where they left off. On August 3rd, members of the Alternative Forest Management Plan Subcommittee will be reminded of the process to date and choose how they want to proceed.Continue reading
Notice something different? We had a bit of a makeover! For about five years, the North Coast State Forest Coalition has worked almost exclusively on protecting the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests. Recently, the groups in our coalition have taken on some additional pressing forest issues in Western Oregon: we dove into the work to keep the Elliott State Forest public, helped push through the new (still not enough!) riparian buffer rules on private forestlands, and several of our member groups helped introduced legislation that would reform the Oregon Forest Practices Act. We thought that a new look and new name would better reflect all that what we’re up to. So here we are, the Oregon Forest Conservation Coalition.
Below you’ll find quick updates on some of the work we’ve been doing:
We haven’t left the Tillamook & Clatsop behind. In fact, last week we submitted public comments on the 2018 Annual Operations Plans for those forests. There are certainly some concerning trends:
1) The Oregon Department of Forestry is decreasing service levels despite record levels of timber harvest revenue. This indicates that funding state forest programs nearly entirely by logging is a structural problem.
2) Over 5,000 acres will have potentially harmful pesticides applied to them. Much of this is done by helicopter, which means that pesticides can drift, affecting public health and habitat.
3) Many older forest stands in the Clatsop State Forest are slated to be clearcut. Less than 0.1% of state forest lands in northwest #Oregon are considered old growth and yet we are logging those trees which are oldest.
After intense public pressure (thanks to all who called or emailed Treasurer Read!), some timely polling, and perhaps time to reflect, members of the State Land Board pulled the plug on the process to privatize the Elliott State Forest. On Tuesday, Governor Brown and Tobias Read (who had previously favored selling the forest) voted to find a public ownership solution that will hopefully see much of the older forest stands protected. The details are still yet to be hashed out and there’s plenty of work to do. The next two months will be especially critical as the legislature needs to do its part to help along the public ownership plan. We’ll be keeping you in the loop!
On April 26th, the Oregon Board of Forestry finally formally adopted new rules for stream buffers on private forests. The new rules will become effective on July 1. This is a welcome and modest step in the right direction towards better forest management, but there is a lot left to be desired:
1) Buffers are at least 20-40 feet too small to meet the DEQ temperature standard with reasonable certainty according to scientific analysis.
2) A smaller, 40-foot, “north-sided buffer” is still allowed on some stream reaches
3) The rule does not protect upstream reaches from salmon, steelhead and bull trout streams.
4) The Siskiyou Region (Southwest Oregon) has been entirely left out.
For the very first time, the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee of Oregon’s House of Representatives held a hearing to discuss comprehensive reform of the outdated Oregon Forest Practices Act. Working with Rep. Holvey, Pacific Rivers and Center for Sustainable Economy put forward legislation that would reform the laws that allow the timber industry to degrade fish and wildlife habitat and put human health and drinking water at risk. Though the bill didn’t pass out of committee, the hearing provided supporters of the bill a venue to make a strong case for reform. Panels of experts and small woodlot owners testified that Oregon’s Forest Practices Act promotes harmful logging by multinational corporations when it should instead incentivize sustainable logging that restores and protects the environment. The hearing was the first step in a long-term plan that seeks to restore Oregon as a leader in sustainable forestry and conservation. Stay tuned!
We’ll continue to support local communities that are working on forest issues. Columbia River Estuary Action Team (CREATE) continues to foster forest conservation in Astoria through their Forest Interest Group. Check out Roger Dorband’s latest words of wisdom in this April’s Hipfish Monthly: “Of Forests and Clean Water” on page 14. Finally, the Citizens of Rockaway Beach for Watershed Protection are releasing a book called “May the Forest Be With You.” Join them for the release celebration on Friday, May 12th!