State Forests

News, State Forests

Oregon State Forest Habitat Plan Clears Key Hurdle

Thanks to strong public support, this legacy plan now moves on to federal review. 

On March 7, a plan to protect thousands of acres of key fish and wildlife habitat on Oregon’s North Coast got a big boost when the Oregon Board of Forestry voted to advance the state forest habitat conservation plan (HCP).

With this vote, the state forest plan—years in the making—moves on to final federal review with a decision expected by early 2025. If finalized, the plan will return to the Board for one last vote and more opportunities for public comment. 

“This month’s vote to move the plan forward would not have happened without a huge show of public support,” says Michael Lang, Wild Salmon Center Senior Oregon Policy Manager. “Thousands of Oregonians stood tall for state forests despite relentless pressure from the timber industry to reduce conservation areas and increase logging.”

Over the past year, thousands of Oregonians joined our Stand Tall Oregon campaign to urge the state Board of Forestry to advance a legacy plan for Oregon state forests. (Photo: Little North Fork Wilson River, Oregon North Coast. Credit: Brady Holden.)

Over the past year, Oregonians showed up to support strong protections for state forests, which are home to six world-class wild salmon and steelhead rivers—the Trask, Wilson, Kilchis, Miami, Nehalem, and Salmonberry. The proposed state forest plan restores balance to state forests that have been overharvested for the past two decades, threatening these key salmon strongholds. Lang notes that the plan will also ensure the stability of timber harvests over generations—at a level that doesn’t threaten other recreation and wildlife values for these public lands.

The state forest plan covers 634,000 acres across Western Oregon, including more than half a million acres located in the Tillamook and Clatsop state forests in Oregon’s rugged North CoastDrawing up to 100 inches of rain annually, the region’s forest, stream network, and connected tidal wetlands drive a natural fish factory, with thousands of coho, cutthroat trout, winter steelhead, and famous runs of fall Chinook that arrive in waves from September to March of each year. The Tillamook River basin is also home to the southernmost viable runs of chum salmon. Together, North Coast strongholds draw salmon and steelhead anglers from across the United States, driving a $550 million outdoor recreation economy. 

The proposed state forest plan restores balance to state forests that have been overharvested for the past two decades, threatening key salmon strongholds.

Chum salmon. (PC: Alamy)

The region’s benefits extend beyond superlative wild fish habitat. The North Coast’s mature, temperate rainforests of Sitka spruce, Douglas fir, cedar and hemlock provide shade and a natural filtration system that supplies more than half a million residents with drinking water from Hillsboro to the coast. And they help fight climate change by absorbing and retaining vast amounts of carbon. 

The March 7 vote marks a high point in this long campaign to ensure the health of Oregon’s North Coast forests. But Lang notes our work isn’t finished yet. 2024 will bring new chances for Oregonians to keep the HCP on track and support better protections for healthier state forests and the salmon strongholds they nourish.

Measuring the circumference of a tree on Oregon North Coast state forestland. (PC: North Coast State Forest Coalition.)

“We’re a big step closer to a state forest plan that’s far more aligned with the core values of Oregonians,” Lang says. “But we’re not there yet. Over the coming year, we’ll again be counting on Oregonians to stand tall and get this legacy plan to the finish line.”

Stay tuned for more opportunities to support the HCP and more balanced management of Oregon’s state forests.

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News, State Forests

Anchoring the Tillamook’s Recovery

On a Wilson River tributary, a new future for Oregon’s state forests comes into view. 

From an old hilltop logging road in the Tillamook State Forest, adventurers can catch sight of a long stretch of the Little North Fork of Oregon’s Wilson River. 

For decades, this has been steep-slope logging country, a place where thick yarding cords still hang from ridgetops. But from this perch, you can also see a rare patch of old-growth in the near distance: remnant forest that survived last century’s Tillamook Burn wildfires. 

According to Charles Wooldridge, a fisherman, photographer, and artist who’s lived in Tillamook County since the early 1980s, this intact habitat could be key to the future of Oregon’s once-lush North Coast forests, as one nucleus for their regeneration.

Tillamook County resident Charles Wooldridge and canine companion Maxine on a May 2023 hike in the Tillamook State Forest. (Photo courtesy Charles Wooldridge.)

“The Little North Fork basin escaped much of the salvage logging and forestry practices we see nearby,” Wooldridge says. “Because of that, it still has healthy populations of wild fish, amphibians, and large game. Nature will move out and find a place, if you have that species health.”

This year, these foundational populations of fish and wildlife could get a boost from a new habitat conservation plan under consideration by the Oregon Board of Forestry. If enacted, the plan would protect the Little North Fork’s precious old-growth stand within one of several dedicated conservation areas comprising roughly half of Western Oregon’s state forestlands. The plan’s conservation areas would transition 250,000 acres of the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests from their current patchwork of clear cuts to a landscape that prioritizes fish, wildlife, and the human communities who rely on healthy forests.

Meanwhile, the plan would continue to manage another 250,000 public acres for timber production—with updated rules and more reliability, ensuring the long-term viability of a legacy industry for North Coast communities. For Wooldridge and others, it’s a compromise plan, but one that creates at least some room for North Coast forests to breathe again.

“After the Burn,” Wooldridge explains, “many counties wound up relying on the state to take care of the forest. But one thing they didn’t agree on back then is what a forest is. When you have species like yew, fir, and cedar that can live for hundreds of years, is it a forest if you keep logging it on a 30-year rotation?”

Wooldridge, who frequently uses the warren of old logging roads in his backyard to bushwhack deep into the Tillamook, seeks out these mature zones of alder and maple, giant remnant conifers, and steep slopes covered with tiger lilies, wild onions, and native succulents. He recalls seeing one ancient fir tree in this vicinity, somewhere near Stanley Peak. The massive tree was many centuries old, and the Burn had blackened one entire side, but it still produced seeds and cones, actively regenerating the landscape around it. 

“The places back there in the coastal forest that have old-growth, they’re mysterious and inviting in the same way—primordial,” he says. “Even when I just drive by, I can imagine all these things are there. And that makes me happy. Though I’d be much happier if I knew these places would be left alone to function as large-basin anchor habitat on all levels.”

Wooldridge’s friend and sometime fishing buddy Bob Rees, Executive Director of the Northwest Guides and Anglers Association, has for years pushed Oregon’s Department of Forestry to advance the habitat plan toward a final vote, currently scheduled for sometime this year. Even now, representatives of the timber industry and some rural counties still try to derail the plan completely.

“We’ve already lost so much,” Rees says. “Take the industry I represent, which relies on the productivity of wild fish. We’re becoming an endangered species ourselves. But we can still move the needle for salmon. And a habitat conservation plan for state forests is a step in the right direction.”

Salmon and steelhead are keystone species, Rees reminds us—meaning that with productive salmon runs come productive wildlife populations and healthy landscapes that feed on the marine nutrients brought upriver by salmon. In many ways, he says, the Little North Fork of the Wilson is an ideal place to focus this ambitious, needle-moving conservation strategy

Already, the Little North Fork is a big producer of the wild fish that drive work for Rees and his colleagues. It’s a “fish factory” for late-run fall Chinook. And it supports the mainstem Wilson’s relative abundance of Oregon Coast coho—an endangered species—as well as wild winter steelhead and cutthroat trout. Together with the neighboring Kilchis and Miami Rivers, the Wilson is also a rare stronghold of wild chum salmon: a species that’s all but disappeared elsewhere in Oregon.

Bob Rees, Executive Director of the Northwest Guides and Anglers Association, says we need to move the needle fast on habitat recovery to have a chance of preserving the wild fish productivity that sustains livelihoods like his. (Photo courtesy Bob Rees.)

These fish runs are hardy holdouts, cherished by Rees and his fellow anglers. In nature’s interwoven way, these fish thrive in part because ancient and mature parts of this forest still exist inside this fractious landscape: canopies that shade streams, root systems that filter water and build food webs, and fallen trees that provide shelter for small fry. 

This year, we have a chance to protect much of what makes the North Coast so special: from its wild fish runs to the primordial magic of its forestsLet’s make sure we win this plan for our public lands. And then, let’s transform the Little North Fork of the Wilson River into an anchor for the ancient forests, abundant wildlife, and wild fish of the North Coast’s future.

Take Action: Halt the timber industry grab on Oregon’s state forests.

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State Forests

State Forests HCP Support Letter

A letter from our coalition to the Oregon Board of Forestry.

Also see the letter from the US EPA regarding the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for Western Oregon State Forests Habitat Conservation Plan.

November 11, 2022

Oregon Board of Forestry

Dear Chair Kelly and Members of the Board of Forestry:

The undersigned groups are writing to share our perspectives on the continuing challenge of finding the right balance on state forest management. As you know, balancing values on state forests has been difficult and controversial. However, the recent resolution of the Linn County litigation has provided some clarity. Now that it is established that the Board of Forestry has broad discretion to manage our state forests for all Oregonians, and not just taxing districts, we have an opportunity for a broader conversation on the path forward. We believe the Board should adopt a strong Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) and renew efforts to identify solutions that provide more stability to both taxing districts and the state forest program budget.

We continue to strongly support your work on a Habitat Conservation Plan for Western Oregon State Forests, and we thank you for your commitment to managing Oregon’s state forests for the benefit of all Oregonians. We ask that you support an HCP that is at least as protective as Alternative 3, the conservation alternative. Alternative 3 would best ensure the “greatest permanent value” of our state forests by providing necessary long-term protections for fish and wildlife, meeting the challenges posed by climate change, and allowing for ongoing timber harvest. The Habitat Conservation Areas and Riparian Conservation Areas would not only serve the purpose of protecting habitat for threatened and endangered species, but also act as carbon reserves and aid in the implementation of the Climate Change and Forest Carbon Plan.

In order to achieve more stability in state forest management, we strongly encourage you to focus attention on the need for systemic changes to ODF’s funding and business model. With the Linn County lawsuit behind you, there is an opportunity for all sides to come together and identify solutions that ensure sustainable funding for local taxing districts while at the same time protecting fish and wildlife habitat and recreation values for Oregon’s state forests. This effort will require investment by the General Fund, and we are prepared to support work exploring those outcomes.

The Private Forest Accord is proof that the timber industry, landowners and the conservation community can work together to find solutions. We support solutions that would allow our state forests to be managed for multiple benefits, respond to the stresses of climate change, and identify stable funding sources for necessary local services.

Thank you for your commitment to managing our state forests for the greatest permanent value for all Oregonians.


Brenna Bell

Forest Climate Manager


Jason Wedemeyer

Executive Director

Association of Northwest Steelheaders

Steve Griffiths

Joseph Youren


Audubon Society of Lincoln City

Bob Sallinger

Conservation Director

Audubon Society of Portland

Lisa Arkin

Executive Director

Beyond Toxics

Grace Brahler

Wildlands Director

Cascadia Wildlands

Noah Greenwald, M.S.

Endangered Species Director

Center for Biological Diversity

Darlene Chirman

Leadership Team

Great Old Broads for Wilderness

Cascade Volcanoes Chapter

Bob Rees

Executive Director

NW Guides and Anglers Association

Mark Rogers


Oregon Council of Trout Unlimited

Julia DeGraw

Coalition Director

Oregon League of Conservation Voters

Lauren Anderson

Climate Forest Program Manager

Oregon Wild

David Harrison

Conservation Chair

Salem Audubon Society

Victoria Frankeny

Staff Attorney

Tualatin Riverkeepers

Michael Lang

Oregon Senior Policy Manager

Wild Salmon Center

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Blog, Campaigns, Nehalem, State Forests, State Scenic Waterway

Protecting Oregon’s Nehalem River

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.

Photo by Justin Bailie

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.

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Board of Forestry, State Forests

Tillamook & Clatsop Planning Process Waking from Hibernation

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.

Wilson River, Oregon North Coast. Photo by Tyson Gillard, Outdoor Project.
Wilson River, Oregon North Coast. Photo by Tyson Gillard, Outdoor Project.
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Elliott, State Forests

Tell our Oregon leaders not to sell off public forest lands!

Governor Brown supports a public option for the Elliott State Forest – one that will protect access and recreation, critical habitat types, and produce a sustainable supply of timber. She needs help from our leaders in the Oregon Legislature. Let Treasurer Read and your state representatives know you support the Governor’s vision to keep the Elliott public.

The proposed sale of the Elliott would:

  • Limit public access to half of the forest and potentially introduce fees for hunters, anglers, and other users
  • Open thousands of acres of rare older forests to industrial-style clearcutting and pesticide spraying
  • See the state lose habitat for fish and wildlife that can’t be replaced

Governor Brown’s vision includes a) public ownership, b) protection of fish & wildlife habitat, c) a sustainable timber harvest along with a Habitat Conservation Plan, and d) tribes regaining ownership of ancestral lands.

We need you to:

Photo by Francis Eatherington
Photo by Francis Eatherington
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Blog, Board of Forestry, State Forests

This Monday: Speak up for Oregon’s streams and salmon

Did you know that of all the West Coast states, Oregon has the least protective rules regarding logging on fish-bearing streams? This Monday (1/30), there is a unique opportunity to speak up for clean cool water for fish and people. Join other advocates to take a stand for the water we all care about from 4:00-7:00 pm at the Ecotrust Building (721 NW 9th Ave) in Portland.

Oregon’s logging rules lag behind the best available science. Right now, the Board of Forestry is nearing the end of an eight-year-long process to update buffer rules for some of Oregon’s streams after finding that current forest practices cause excess water pollution and that the current rules need strengthening. However, the proposed new rules don’t go nearly far enough to protect our aquatic habitat and clean water sources.

We need you to join us, and others from your community, in sending a loud message to the Board of Forestry that they can do better, and we demand it!

Click here for additional background and click here for talking points.

If you can’t make it to the hearing, you can submit public comment by emailing Use the subject line “Private Forest SSBT Rulemaking”.

Photo by Tom Lange
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Blog, State Forests

10 reasons counties and taxing districts should opt out of the Linn County lawsuit

The Linn County state forest lawsuit seeks $1.4 billion in alleged damages from the State of Oregon for not maximizing revenue from state-owned and managed forestlands. For decades, the state has sought a varied and balanced mix of management approaches that produce timber revenue, provide for conservation of watersheds, and recreation.  Linn County claims the state was required to maximize industrial timber harvest for the counties to the exclusion of other values. Linn County Circuit Court Judge Daniel Murphy granted class action status to the dubious lawsuit. Counties that do not want to see our state forests turned into industrial tree farms have until January 25, 2017 to opt out. Here are 10 reasons why they should:

  • timber-harvest-1993-2015The premise for the lawsuit, as given by Linn County, is false. According to their press release, a lack of state forest logging since 1998 has had “devastating effects” on economies in the forest trust counties and unemployment and poverty have “skyrocketed” because of the state’s management practices. This is simply not true. Since 1998, state forest harvest levels increased significantly. In 2015, timber harvest on federal and private lands in Oregon declined while state forest harvests maintained. Since 1998, state forests have provided a high and stable volume of timber.
  • This lawsuit seeks to increase logging levels on state forests. Linn County’s attorneys have consistently misled the public as to the true nature of this lawsuit., claiming it is only a contract dispute between the counties and the state. If that were the case, why would the logging industry have developed and paid for the lawsuit? Hampton Affiliates, Stimson Lumber, and the timber lobbying group Oregon Forest Industries Council are licking their chops for a bigger piece of the pie. They are hoping that, as part of a settlement, state forest clearcutting levels increase. Or, they rightly assume that, if the lawsuit succeeds, the state will be forced to depart from its current, balanced approach to avoid being sued again.
  • Drastic harvest increase is not economically sustainable. As part of a process to examine new approaches to managing state forest lands, the Oregon Department of Forestry modeled what an increase in clearcutting would look like. The results were not promising. It turns out that when you liquidate your asset by intensive clearcutting, the returns don’t last long. The model showed that such an approach would pay for itself for about 25 years, after which costs far outpace revenue, leaving the Department financially insolvent. Additionally, Department staff noted that implementing this plan would result in less harvest than predicted and that there is a likelihood that counties and forest district would face drastic boom/bust cycles rather than steady, predictable income. This is what a moderate harvest increase looks like, a drastic increase would no doubt be far worse.
  • Increased harvest presents serious ecological problems. During the process to explore new management approaches to state forests, a third-party science review of several approaches was conducted. The industrial timber approach is modeled as the “Timber Harvest Optimization” (THO) alternative. Findings indicate that this approach result in 1) “lower carbon stocks in the forest;” 2) “reduced amount and diversity of vegetation;” 3) increased stream temperatures and sediment; 4) decreased non-motorized recreation, non-timber forest products, and fishing; 5) decreased habitat for nearly all types of wildlife (including threatened and endangered species); and 6) increased herbicide us. (See series of tables (4-4 to 4-10) for many of these indicators).
  • The Oregon Board of Forestry currently has a collaborative, science-based process to explore new management approaches. For several years now, the Board of Forestry’s “Alternative Forest Management Plan Subcommittee” has been hard at work on re-examining how to manage state forests for long-term financial viability and improved conservation. The subcommittee has consistently sought public input, the best available science, and input from the forest trustland counties. These counties have a “special” seat at the table with the Board of Forestry and the Department of Forestry. By staying in the lawsuit, counties would be forgoing a seat at that table in exchange for a seat on the timber industry/Linn County funride through the court system, where input is likely limited and forest plans are not typically written.
  • Our fisheries economy will suffer. A move towards industrial style timber production would have a severe impact on the local fisheries economy. On the north coast, recreational, and sport fishing are a cultural touchstone and a serious economic engine. In 2008, sportfishing ALONE in Tillamook and Clatsop Counties amounted to a $49 million dollar industry without counting equipment expenditures, which are significant. Many guides and fishing shops rely on healthy forested watersheds for their livelihood.
  • We don’t want a paralyzing legal battle on these forests. Current state forest timber harvest levels are high – over 5,000 acres will be clearcut in the Tillamook and Clatsop next year alone. State forests make up 3% of Oregon’s forestland but produce between 8-10% of our timber volume, depending on the year. Asking more of these already productive lands could be dangerous.  There is already notice of intent to sue the state for “taking” threatened coho salmon. Cranking up the harvest dial seems unwise, especially after federal agencies have found Oregon’s logging rules inadequate for protecting water quality.
  • Recreation will suffer. The Tillamook State Forest provides critical, publicly accessible recreation opportunities for coastal communities along with residents of Washington County, which is growing rapidly. These forests provide the closest hiking and biking trails, low-cost campgrounds, rivers for fishing, swimming, and boating, hunting access, and wildlife viewing. In Clatsop County, the Clatsop State Forest represents the only large piece of public land for recreation. Increasing clearcutting, roads, and logging activities will be detrimental to these activities which improve quality of life and are a key economic engine for Oregon.
  • The lawsuit could be devastating to Oregon’s already stressed budget. Our state currently faces an approximate budget shortfall of $1.7 billion in the next biennium. If Linn County and the timber industry gets their way, that number would nearly double. Linn County and its attorneys pretend that the case is simple but they offer no solution on how the state’s taxpayers would generate an extra $1.4 billion without raising taxes, clearcutting more, and shutting down crucial state programs. As of the end of October, the lawsuit had cost the state roughly $503,000 not including Department of Forestry staff time.
  • The lawsuit is an attempt to make a few people wealthy at the cost of all Oregonians. While we don’t know where settlement money would come from, we know where a lot of the money will go if the lawsuit succeeds: John DiLorenzo and his law firm stand to make out with $210 million for representing Linn County and the timber industry. Add this to the increased clearcutting that companies like Stimson and Hampton are hoping for, and it’s clear that Oregonians—all of us—whether through increased taxes, lower water quality, environmental degradation, or loss of forest opportunities, will be left holding the bill.

It’s time to opt out of this destructive, misleading lawsuit.

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Blog, State Forests

Collaborative Forest Tour

This report was written by Joan Cutuly

On June 26, the Rockaway Beach Citizens for Watershed Protection co-sponsored a forest management and ecology tour with Oregon Wild and North Coast State Forest Coalition. The purpose of the tour was to learn how different types of forest management and ownership affect our environment, economy, and public health.

The tour began with a walk along the salt water marsh bordering Nedonna Beach, just north of Rockaway Beach. From the marsh’s edge, the group looked east across Highway 101 at the hills of privately owned forest that has been recently clear cut along Jetty Creek. From that vantage point, it was pointed out the reasons why avoiding that kind of intensive logging is in the best interest of the land and all living things.

From a panoramic viewpoint, it was possible to see how the consequences of stripping a hillside of trees would travel all the way to the sea. As water runs downhill without trees to soak it up, that runoff finds its way into creek beds, muddying drinking water not only through soil erosion but with toxins from herbicide and rodenticides sprayed on the clear cut to keep down the competition following replanting.

For decades, logging has been a source of livelihood and pride here in the Pacific Northwest. But what might we be exchanging for the quick and easy industrial removal of trees? Long before this region became the logging center of the country, Henry Thoreau wrote: “The cost of a thing is the amount of…life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.”

Jetty Creek

The cost of clear cutting is dear and grave and often masked by a buffer of trees that hides the clear cut from public scrutiny and even from our awareness. As we could see from the beach, any run off from the Jetty Creek clear cut is destined by the laws of physics to find its way into the Jetty Creek drinking water source—not only muddying the water from soil erosion but bringing with it contaminants from the common practice of aerial spraying supported by Oregon law. Human residents are not the only inhabitants affected as the unhealthy water flows across Highway 101 into Nedonna Marsh—a marsh that is a spawning ground for Coho, as well as a habitat for heron, eagles, osprey, ducks, river otters, seals, and many species of song birds. The area is also a fishing and recreational paradise for locals and visitors.

Erosion is not the only threat to the land, as development threatens to affect the mossy woods, rich with flora and trails that many people share with the birds and other wildlife.

What are the costs that come with the profits to be made by clear cutting and insensitive development? The answer came on the second half of the tour. Just south of Cannon Beach, the group hiked into a section of forest that has been given the opportunity to regenerate itself. Such a forest exemplifies all that is to be gained in preserving our forests through sustainable management. Perhaps most importantly, a forest such as this serves as a giant collector of carbon that can operate on the first line of defense in our battle against global warming.

Maintaining a diverse forest canopy significantly lowers stream temperatures, a key to protecting salmon, known as an indicator species here in the Pacific Northwest. As the salmon population goes, so goes the health of the environment. Gone are the days when salmon ran so thick a person could walk across a stream on their backs. We asked too much of the salmon who now in their own way are warning us that a culture that supports laws permitting the stripping, poisoning, and exploitation of the land is ensuring its own decline.

By contrast, an old forest that is rich with loamy soil tells the story and understory of a healthy culture. In such a forest, we experience the life-giving force and the diversity of flora and fauna which is in direct contrast to the stark monoculture of a managed forest that is cut every fifty years and managed with chemicals. “In wildness,” wrote Thoreau, “is the preservation of the world.”


The tour group had lunch sitting on the roots of Oregon’s largest tree—a cedar as old as eight-hundred years. The Old One knew the wild that existed before Columbus and was towering toward the sky long before the birth of our Constitution. Such a tree reminds us of all the damage it has been possible for us to do in the short lifespan of our industrialized culture. And it asks us to contemplate whether the economic benefits of such a culture are worth the cost to the health of our environment and all living creatures. It also asks who we will become as a people if we continue to live by laws that enable the abuse of the land that sustains us.

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