Active Forest Management: Balancing the Needs of Man and the Health of Nature
By: Crystal Wheeler
For as long as I can remember, I have lived in rural communities scattered about Oregon’s forests, and my family has always held a special place for the woods in their hearts. In my father, that love translated into his desire to become a forester, but in me, it has manifested into my desire to become a biology teacher. I was always interested in learning about the species that live within the forest, and I am excited to share my discoveries with the next generation after I receive a teaching license. I was recently accepted to Oregon State University and will be studying there to receive a double degree in teaching and biology.
Before writing this essay, if someone were to ask me what active forest management was, my answer would have simply been that it was cutting down trees. I knew it was important, and I knew it involved harvesting timber, but that was about it. I now know that there is so much more to it than I thought, and that it affects the world and our society in more ways than I could imagine.
When preparing this essay, I interviewed a variety of different people: Mike Cloughesy, the Director of Forestry for the Oregon Forest Resources Institute; Meghan Tuttle, Western Environmental Affairs Manager at Weyerhaeuser; John Bailey, Professor of Silviculture and Fire Management at Oregon State University; Austin Himes, Sustainability Manager at Greenwood Resources; and Ted Reiss, Seneca Jones Timber Company’s Timberlands Manager. I also used a variety of websites to aid my research, including, but not limited to, oregonforests.org, congressionalsportsman.org, and oregon.gov. It was interesting to find out that active forest management includes all forestry practices used to influence the forest to reach desired outcomes and future conditions (CSF). I also discovered that when implemented properly, active forest management is done in a sustainable way in order to ensure that the forests’ resources will last forever.
When I first began learning about active forest management, I wondered how it was possible for us to take so much from the woods but always have enough resources to keep harvesting in later years. My question was answered when I discovered the concept of sustainable forest management. Mike Cloughesy described it as a way to “manage the forest’s resources so that they can last forever.” He explained that it’s important to protect water quality by using road building practices that reduce the amount of sediment flowing into waterways, and by leaving buffers around rivers and streams when harvesting timber.
Another important aspect, described by Ted Reiss, is to make sure to harvest less timber than the amount that is expected to grow. This allows humans to take what they need from the forest, let the resources replenish between every harvest, and leave plenty of forested area for wildlife habitat. Harvesting less than is expected to grow also leaves a safe margin for human error; if an unexpected event were to occur that could inhibit the forest’s ability to grow, like drought, the forest would still be able to regrow and provide sustainable harvest levels. To quote Austin Himes, the goal of safe and sustainable forest management is to “minimize negative repercussions and maximize positive outcomes” while also sustaining our resources. It is important to remember that sustainable forest management is used to maintain the value of the forest as a whole. This includes not only perpetuating our supply of timber, but also protecting and maintaining recreation, natural parks, communities that rely on the forests, and the species living within the woods. One statement in particular really struck me during my conversation with Meghan Tuttle; she said that we are the forest’s “long term stewards,” and we are responsible for protecting it. Humans owe so much to our forests, and by using sustainable forest management practices, we can make sure its resources never run out.
I was also surprised to learn that when done sustainably, active forest management can really benefit the environment. I used to think that the forest would be fine on its own, that there was no need to interfere with it other than to collect lumber, but I found out that there are many ways that humans can contribute to the health of the environment while still providing for our own needs through thinning or clear cutting. Mr. Cloughesy detailed that thinning is a logging technique in which only a fraction of the trees in an area are cut to reduce the density of vegetation. In turn, the reduction of trees provides the rest of the vegetation in the area with more resources. Each plant now has access to more sunlight and more water, allowing the forest that remains to grow stronger and healthier. John Bailey also mentioned that thinning reduces the amount of fuel in the forest, lowering fire danger.
Thinning, I can now see, is an important method of timber harvest, but I was skeptical about clear cutting when I first began looking into it. Growing up, I was frequently warned about the dangers of clear cutting. I’ve been told by many teachers that cutting down trees in such a way was destroying wildlife habitat and hurting animals, and many of my neighbors complained that clear cutting sites looked like open wounds in the landscape. I was never sure how to feel about them myself, but I certainly felt apprehensive towards the idea of hurting the forest. Ted Reiss and Meghan Tuttle provided me with a key point I never really considered before; many species of plants and animals thrive in the environments created by clear cutting and the regrowth of the forest. Clear cutting allows humans to simulate some of the effects of fire without endangering the forest as a whole; it creates open, sunny spaces that are favorable to many species of songbirds, elk, and deer (OFRI). Many forms of plants also thrive in these sunny spaces, one important plant being Douglas-fir trees. Active forest management allows foresters and timber companies to work to create favorable conditions for desired species; clear cutting, as explained by Ted Reiss, is one of the best ways to grow these valuable Douglas-fir trees since they are very shade intolerant. It seems odd to me that even with all of these benefits, so many people have told me that clear cutting is entirely bad. I feel a bit misled. When I become a biology teacher, I plan on teaching my students that not everything is as bad as popular opinion may tell them, especially when it comes to logging and the forest industry as a whole. It’s important for people to do their own research and form their own opinions.
It is also important to consider what would happen if we did not practice forest management. Megan Tuttle brought it to my attention that even if we left the forest alone, we would still need wood products. Where would that wood come from? It would need to be imported from places that may not have a good system of rules in place to protect the forest, like the tropical rainforest. It makes little to no sense to make this tradeoff. Oregon has a good set of regulations in place that protect the forest, like the Oregon Forest Practices Act (Oregon.gov). It seems wise to utilize the resources available to us, especially when we know that the work is being done in a sustainable and responsible way.
There is also a lot more to the effects of active forest management than people would normally think, it also has a large effect on the community. To start, the forest industry creates a lot of jobs and a large forest economy, especially within rural Oregon. From the foresters themselves, to the biologists, loggers, truckers, and manufacturers, there are so many positions that need to be filled to maintain the forest economy. The economic boost caused by forestry also generates a large amount of income and harvest taxes. The state can use those funds for public projects to improve the quality of roads, schools, jails, parks, and more. The benefits of forestry are also seen very clearly in rural towns near the forests. Many times, the forest economy helps “establish a feeling of identity and pride among the people” of those towns, since many people in rural communities are part of multigenerational foresting families (Austin Himes).
Another benefit of active forest management in the community, mentioned by every individual I interviewed, was the protection and maintenance of recreational areas, national parks, and scenic views. Hunting, hiking, fishing, mountain biking, and numerous other activities are near and dear to many people’s’ hearts. The forest industry has the power to provide and conserve these things through sustainable forest practices, as previously mentioned, and by working to create habitats for commonly hunted animals like salmon, trout, deer, and elk. They can also do so by building and maintaining trails in designated areas to minimize negative human impact on the woods. I know I have always loved exploring the outdoors, and I am grateful for all the people who work so hard to provide and protect recreational parks and activities.
Improvements in technology have also facilitated many positive changes within the forest industry and have changed the way forests are managed for the better. One change that has dramatically affected the industry is the transition from mostly hard physical labor to the operation of machines. Logging, forestry, and millwork used to revolve mostly around hiking, heavy lifting, and difficult labor, but with the development of heavy machinery and the expansion of forestry to include working with computers, data, and wildlife research, more people have been able to join the forest industry than ever before, “especially women,” says Mike Cloughsey. The development of drones, aerial photography, and satellite imagery has allowed for easier and more accurate data collection. Cell phones, geographic information systems, and computers have expanded our ability to communicate facts and data quickly and correctly (ESRI). Together, these things allow foresters to more efficiently collect and organize data and make better decisions regarding what actions should be taken to ensure the safety and productivity of the forest. Within the timber industry, there have been many helpful advances as well. Mr. Reiss and Mr. Himes described that herbicides allow for timber managers to create more favorable conditions for their crop by reducing competition for resources between the trees and other plants. People have also learned how to selectively breed trees to produce faster growing, disease resistant trees and improve the overall quality of the harvest. Logging equipment and other heavy machinery has also been modified to be stronger, safer, and more fuel efficient as time goes on. This improves working conditions within mills and out in the field. One specific example of this, described by Meghan Tuttle, is cable assist technology. This technology allows workers to more safely harvest timber on steep slopes by providing supports for their machines. It is fascinating how much technology has improved and become more portable, accurate, safe, and efficient, and how it has allowed people to people to reduce their negative impact on the forest by using more accurate information to make better decisions.
Another huge innovation has been the development of cross laminated timber. It allows architects to create high rise buildings out of wood. Wood has a much lower carbon footprint than commonly used building materials like steel and concrete. In fact, using wood is a way to store carbon for long periods of time, reducing the negative effects of climate change like global warming instead of contributing to it (OFRI). It also increases the need for forestry and timber harvesting while creating homes for many members of the community.
I honestly never knew how much active forest management affected the world around me. Throughout the process of interviewing forestry officials and researching this topic, I became quite excited to learn about the nuances of the forest industry and have gained a lot of respect for all the people that have devoted themselves to forest management. I also feel like this information will be useful as I pursue my degrees in teaching and biology. Now not only will I get to learn about the plants and animals that reside within the forest, but I will have background knowledge about the processes that are in place to protect, maintain, and utilize them. I am also excited to share this knowledge with my future students. Throughout school, I was mostly taught about how logging is bad, and how people are just hurting the animals and plants that live there, but now I see that is not the truth. When done poorly, forest management has the potential to harm the environment, but there are so many dedicated professionals working hard to ensure that there are more pros to forestry than cons. Active forest management can be a great force for good from both environmental and societal standpoints and has the ability to improve many aspects of people’s lives, from jobs, to homes, to recreation, and to the health of the land itself. I feel it is important that more people are taught about forestry and all the hard work that goes into striking a balance between the needs of man and the health of nature.
Through Active Management Oregon Has It All: Forests, Timber, And Wildlife
By: Clare Jayawickrama
A look back at the history of Oregon’s forests reveals how our state has evolved its forest management practices to simultaneously support timber production, protect wildlife, and preserve areas for the public, as well as future generations, to enjoy. During the 19th and 20th centuries, logging practices led to clashes between the timber industry and environmentalist groups. Then, through the pivotal 1971 Forest Practices Act (FPA), Oregon legislature addressed the reasonable environmental concerns while continuing to support Oregon’s vital timber industry. Fights to protect certain endangered species in the 1980s and 1990s resulted in reduced harvest, mill closures, and unemployment, but two decades later the conflicts between the opposing sides concerning Oregon’s forests have largely been resolved. After witnessing the FPA in action and speaking to experts in various fields of forestry, I would argue that Oregon now exemplifies the many benefits of forest management and offers a model to be emulated worldwide.
The 18th century European explorers that encountered the untouched old growth forests of the Pacific Northwest were awestruck by their beauty. George Vancouver described them as “an impenetrable wilderness of lofty trees extending as far north as the eye could reach” (“Seeing Forests”). Then, the forests were quickly settled by those wanting to build up a timber industry. Dozens of mills, logging sites, and railroads sprang up throughout Oregon and Washington and timber production ramped up exponentially. By 1870, 75 million board feet of lumber was produced annually and production reached a record high of 9.8 billion board feet by 1952 (Brown 45).
All of the lumber harvested during the 19th century was from old growth forests, a finite resource. Then, during the 20th century, a transition to logging second growth timber –a forest which naturally regenerated after harvest– took place. Harvest from Federal forests owned by the US Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management reached a peak of 5 billion board feet in the 1980s (Andrews and Kutara 5). However, the sustainability and effect on the environment was questionable. Poorly designed roads, dragging logs through streams, and building splash dams across river alarmed environmentalists who then pushed for bills to preserve the remaining bits of old growth forests (Miller 1).
The 1973 Endangered Species Act (ESA) signed into law by President Nixon was considered an environmental victory but stunted the timber industry. The ESA required the identification and protection of threatened species, often via reductions of timber harvest permitted on federal land. In 1990, scientists and environmentalists brought to court the case of the northern spotted owl–native to the Pacific Northwest–arguing that its population was declining due to habitat loss. As part of the 1994 Northwest Forest Plan, over 11 million acres were then designated as critical habitat for the owl and logging was prohibited on those lands. These reductions dealt a catastrophic blow to many communities that depended on the timber industry. Dozens of Oregon mills shut down in places such as Oakridge, Gold Beach and even around the Corvallis area that I live in. Thousands of mill employees and those working in the timber industry were left unemployed.
It is evident that during the tumultuous “Timber Wars” of the 1980s and 1990s, people had conflicting visions for Oregon’s forests and were unable to reach a satisfying consensus on how to manage forests, or whether they should be touched at all. Through this tug of war, Oregon progressed far and now maintains a sustainable timber industry that contributes significantly to Oregon’s economy and local communities without causing excessive wildlife disturbance or damage. Oregon’s forest management practices enhance forest health by reducing wildfire risk and spread of disease while also maximizing wood production through thinning and research. Oregon’s forest operations are regulated through the Forest Practices Act (FPA) which, though it was passed in 1971, is not a static document but rather undergoes periodic changes to better suit the current state of the forests. The Oregon Department of Forestry described it in 1995 as “…a revolutionary concept in regulation. The Act…has served as a model for many other states. Changes have been implemented over the past 20 years as public values have changed and as better scientific information has emerged” (Brown 85).
To see the FPA practiced in reality, I toured one of Starker Forests tree farms –headquartered in Philomath– with forester Fred Pfund. This tour also gave me more insight into active forest management techniques. To maintain sustainable wood production, the FPA limits clearcuts to 120 acres. Mr. Pfund showed me several clearcuts, which were usually only 30 acres on Starker Forests, and pointed out the “leave trees” and downed logs left in the clearcuts, as required by the FPA to create wildlife habitat. Starker Forests also has made a large investment in removing older culverts and installing modern fish-friendly culverts that facilitate easy stream crossings. Trees and vegetation along the streams, known as buffers, were left intact to provide shade and the roads were carefully designed and maintained to minimize runoff of sediment into streams–again, all of which are required by the FPA.
I also saw the many ways in which Starker manages its forests through replanting, commercial thinning, and research. The FPA requires that harvest sites be replanted within two years since “…getting a new forest up and running as quickly as possible is the most important aspect of long-term forest sustainability,” according to the Oregon Forest Resources Institute (OFRI) (“Reforestation”). Replanting immediately with useful species reduces the incidence of timberland being replaced by low-value invasive species, such as Scotch Broom, and minimizes erosion by slowing down water as it flows on the soil. When I asked Mr. Pfund about the importance of replanting in terms of maximizing wood production he said, “Naturally regenerated trees take four to five years longer to reach a harvestable size than when we replant sites. It may not seem like a lot, but the difference adds up over time–like compounding interest.”
Before replanting, the recently harvested sites are usually cleared of excessive debris. “We don’t leave the site bare, but rather just remove what impedes planting while leaving the rest to remain as wildlife habitat,” Mr. Pfund said. An important aspect of site preparation is burning slash piles after harvest which increases the availability of planting sites and reduces fire risk. During the dry and hot summer months, a wildfire is less likely to gather force in a site relatively clear of ground debris–a potent fuel–than in forests completely unmanaged. Another benefit to clearing sites is to prevent the spread of disease to the trees; insects carrying disease tend to accumulate in areas with a lot of debris.
It was really interesting to see the difference that commercial thinning, a common forest management practice, makes on log size and quality. Mr. Pfund showed me a 34-year-old stand in which one section had been left untouched while the other had been thinned; the thinned section showed a great deal more merchantable volume 10 years after thinning. This is because it reduces the competition between growing trees for sunlight and other natural resources. Another way to reduce competition for seedlings is through herbicide application, which is common but heavily regulated; any chemicals used must be specifically registered for use in forestry and application must follow strict procedures. For example, application must not take place if there is threat of wind carrying them offsite. Finally, Starker Forests, like many other companies, seeks to improve its timber and I saw many sites for planting, thinning, fertilizer, and progeny tests.
Overall, my impression from the tour was that the FPA in reality does achieve its objective of “establishing standards for forest practices that will maintain the productivity of forestland, minimize soil and debris entering waters of the state, and protect wildlife and fish habitat” (“Forest Practices Act”). On the tour, I saw a bobcat, a deer, a hawk, evidence of elk, and heard woodpeckers tapping at trees; wildlife seems to be thriving thanks to thoughtful sustainable management on the part of Starker Forest and the FPA.
That being said, what about the controversy that made Oregon headlines over the endangered marbled murrelet? In 2014, environmental groups filed a lawsuit to block Scott Timber from logging in a portion of Elliott State Forest. It was argued that because it is home to marbled murrelets doing so would violate the ESA. The judge ruled against Scott Timber and the logging did not take place. To look further into the case of the marbled murrelet, I spoke to wildlife biologist Dr. Jim Rivers at Oregon State University.
Dr. Rivers is involved in a research project designated by the Oregon Legislature after the 2014 court case to study murrelets. “The marbled murrelet is a bird of two worlds–forest and sea– and needs both healthy terrestrial and marine conditions to survive,” he said. “The Northwest Forest Plan secures land not only for the northern spotted owl but for other species like the marbled murrelet. The murrelet currently has [over 600,000 acres of] habitat in Oregon’s Siuslaw National Forest, so loss of habitat doesn’t seem to be the main issue. In the summer of 2017, excessively warm ocean conditions impeded murrelets from getting food, resulting in less nesting and breeding.” After speaking with him, I realized that there is more to the story of the murrelet’s decline and the reason cannot be simply pinpointed to logging. The current challenges faced by the marbled murrelet have more to do with changes in its marine habitat and its infrequent breeding cycle than with the timber industry.
As a wildlife biologist, Dr. Rivers brought up an aspect of forest management that hadn’t occurred to me before. “It is safe to say that there are some species that –at least on a small scale– would not be present without management. In New England, where I grew up, there isn’t a lot of harvest and the early seral bird populations who rely on young stands have declined quite a bit…The state forests are now cutting areas to make sure that these birds have young stands to nest in.” When it comes to management, there isn’t a one-size fits all system. “By managing forests actively and thinking about what animals need based on their life history requirements…we can promote species in certain areas– say, bees in one area and owls in other older stands. What’s nice about having land ownerships by private industrial companies, state and national forests, and BLM, is that there are all kinds of forests which provide different habitats for different creatures.”
Apart from benefits like species promotion, the biggest reason for forest management is to reap the economic benefits that the timber provides. Oregon’s climate is very conducive to growing trees and nearly half of the state is forested, about 29 million acres. Of this, 36% is used for wood production and in recent years Oregon has been harvesting 3.8 billion board feet annually, considerably less than the annual increment (Oregon Forest Facts: 2017 22; Oregon Forest Facts: 2019 4). The varied roles required for harvest and production create over 61,000 jobs–log truck drivers, tree planters, timber cruisers, and foresters to name a few–and communities all across Oregon benefit from the timber industry for employment and income (Oregon Forest Facts: 2019 22).
Philomath, Oregon–a small town of under 5000 people and home to Georgia Pacific (GP) sawmill–is an great example of this. To better understand the economic importance of forest management, I was given a tour of the sawmill by superintendent Jason Self and procurement forester Zack Gagnon. It is beneficial to the Philomath community because it provides 115 local jobs; the employees don’t need to commute far away. “Here in your hometown, you can make $80,000 a year without a degree by working hard,” said Mr. Self. Employment is fairly accessible since GP doesn’t always require previous sawmill experience and hires people ready to learn. “We invest in our employees, providing benefits such as a 401k, health insurance, and coverage for dental and vision,” he said.
In terms of economic production, GP processes 80-100 loads daily into lumber, chips, and sawdust. “A lot of products stay pretty local. They go to places like Toledo and contribute to the local economy,” said Mr. Self. I saw that even some of the machinery, such as automated file sharpeners, was produced in Portland, Oregon. However, it surprised me when Mr. Gagnon said that GP sometimes brings in wood from Vancouver to mill; in a community like Philomath that is surrounded by an abundance of wood, this didn’t make sense economically. It turns out that logging restrictions in the area are remnant of the “Timber Wars”; the Northwest Forest Plan reduced the amount of wood available to locally harvest, and in fact led several other Philomath mills such as Thompson to close down in the 1990s.
In addition to the industrial, economic, and wildlife perspectives of forest management outlined above, forest management provides societal benefits. 36% of Oregon’s forests are multi-resource, providing very affordable recreation opportunities for anyone from mountain bikers to hunters (“Oregon Forest Facts: 2017”, 22). In fact, forests and humans can have a symbiotic relationship: hunting deer and elk relieves some of the browse pressure –when herbivores eat the buds on seedlings– on young plantations. Another significant benefit of forest management is fire protection and prevention. Wildfires burned 442,000 acres in Oregon in 2018 and claimed many lives (“Oregon Forest Facts: 2019”, 17). Through thinning and prescribed burns, the intensity and frequency of wildfires can be reduced. Forests also play a crucial role in the environment as they absorb carbon, thus “offsetting carbon dioxide that is released into the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels. Wood from the trees continues to store atmospheric carbon after [production] which is one reason why wood is an environmentally preferable building material when compared to products like concrete and steel,” writes OFRI (“Forests, Carbon, and Climate Change” 1).
In conclusion, the state of Oregon is blessed with a vast and precious resource of diverse, high quality coniferous forests which are being carefully and scientifically managed to provide a host of economic, environmental, and societal benefits. Claims that Oregon’s timber industry is harmful to the forests and wildlife are unsubstantiated, and Oregonians will be able to enjoy the forests in myriad ways for generations to come through active management. I appreciated the opportunity to investigate the many facets of active management of Oregon’s forests from legislation like the FPA to practices such as thinning and reforestation and I gained many valuable insights as a resident of this beautiful state.
By: Arianna Helgren
Forest management is the practice of people engaging with their natural resources that best fits their needs and unique goals for their land. Some landowners may base how they manage their forest off of ecological goals, and some may base it off of what gets them the most economical gain. Ranging from the dense Douglas-firs to the high desert Ponderosa Pines, Oregon has roughly 30.5 million acres of forestland and about 80 percent of that forestland is considered “timberland” (ODF, 2019). Timberland by definition is forestland that can productively grow commercial-grade timber. Thanks to forest management, Oregon secures over 61,000 jobs in forest-related professions, protects wildlife habitats, and provides an economical and environmentally sound future for the forest and the communities dependent on them.
Forest management dates back to before European settlement in the Pacific Northwest, starting with tribes such as the Umpquas and Modocs using seasonal burning to increase the browse of deer and elk. These practices laid the foundation of utilizing the forests to benefit communities and their needs. As the years progressed, the recognition of forest management and the opportunities brought with it also progressed. Starting in 1862 with The Homestead Act, granting 160 acres to those who would live and work off the land, and evolving in 1971 with The Oregon Forest Practices Act, which made Oregon the first state to abide by a comprehensive set of laws that regulated foresters and their practices (Oregon Forest Resources Institute, 2019). These laws were set in place by the Oregon legislature due to the emerging concerns of the preservation of biological diversity and to ensure that Oregon forestland can thrive and flourish from active forest management. Without active forest management, the forests wouldn’t be able to provide clean water, fish, and wildlife habitat as well as products and tax revenues that result in healthy communities (Oregon’s Forest Protection Laws, 2019).
To help better understand forest management and the unique aspects behind it, I chose to interview the following: John Blodgett Jr., the log buyer for Douglas County Forest Products, Rick Barnes, The President of Barnes & Associates, and Mike Cloughesy, The Director of Forestry for the Oregon Forest Resources Institute. Each interviewee gave an insightful perspective on forest management and how it is involved in their job. I chose these three because they all have different backgrounds in the public and private sectors, but also share a common interest in Oregon’s forest management.
John Blodgett Jr. was able to give me a perspective that reflected on rural communities and the effect that forest management has on them. To Mr. Blodgett, forest management meant taking an active role in the forest that you are responsible for, as opposed to passive ownership. “Forest management can mean maintaining roads and even just taking care of forests in the event of a drought or having bug issues. The best kind of forest management is some kind of active management.” An example that Mr. Blodgett gave me about the impact forest management has had on a community was Glide, Oregon. Glide was more specifically impacted by the mismanagement of the forests in that community. According to Mr. Blodgett, the closure and substantial reduction of federal timber harvest in Glide directly impacted how the community flourished. Meaning that when the amount of timber being harvested was reduced, so was the economical state of the rural community. “Glide used to be a thriving community that supported the timber industry and benefited from it. Now none of that exists because of the mismanagement of the timber in the Glide area.” What I took from John Blodgett Jr. was that no forest management is mismanagement, and in order for our communities and forests to be positively impacted, Oregon forests need to have some kind of active management.
Next I interviewed Rick Barnes, who is not only a certified forester, but also serves as a senior manager for projects undertaken by his company, Barnes & Associates. This company works to provide a full range of forest management services to roughly 80,000 acres of forestland invested by both big and small private companies. To Mr. Barnes forest management means working to have healthy and productive forests. “I am a firm believer that the better we manage our forests; the more productive they are, the better the trees grow, and the more the krebs cycles are working.” Mr. Barnes has experience in both the public and private sectors, meaning that he has the ability to notice the difference that each sector has on the community. “The private sector is more economically driven, meaning they care about the productivity of the forest. They also really pay attention to their inventory…they are looking at the long term sustainability of their land. This has a tremendous amount of value because this adds to their huge commitment and contributions not only to their communities, but also their employees.” The federal land on the other hand is nowhere near harvesting at the same level as the private sector. This isn’t necessarily because of the unwillingness to, it is more because of the tight nit laws that are in place preventing them from harvesting to their potential. From this interview with Mr. Barnes I learned that there is a lot more science that goes into forest management then I once thought. For example, I learned that when maximizing tree growth you are also maximizing carbon sequestration, which in turns helps economically and ecologically. I also had the opportunity to learn about the cap and trade system that is directly associated with the lumber and timber industry which in turn has the potential to change forest management techniques as well.
Lastly, I got the opportunity to interview the director of the Oregon Forest Resources Institute, Mike Cloughesy. The Oregon Forest Resources Institute was set in place by the Oregon legislature in 1991 to improve the collaboration of the timber industry and communities as well as cultivate a better understanding of forest management and it’s practices. When asked what forest management meant to him, Mr. Cloughesy was able to narrow it down to the sustainability triangle, those points being social, economic and environmental. “ Forest management means purposefully doing things in the forest to get benefits…you need to benefit the ecosystem to continue to produce.” Of course, those benefits being the three parts of the triangle. This was particularly intriguing for me to learn more about, because those three things play their own roles in the public and private sectors. For example the public sector deals more with the social and environmental aspects of the triangle because their role as a sector isn’t to deal with the economics of the land nearly as much as they once did. The public sector ensures that the communities have access to the beautiful characteristics of their part of the triangle, like Crater Lake and recreational areas. On the other hand the private sector deals more with all three parts of the triangle. “Because the private sector is done as a business, the economics of it are important…they also care a great deal about the communities they impact,” said Cloughesy. Examples of these impacts can range from providing jobs to community members so they can meet the needs of their families, to scholarships like this one that are provided to ensure that students can reach their educational goals while also learning about important topics. I took a lot
away from my interview with Mr. Cloughesy, but the thing that I appreciated the most was how his passion for what he does carried onto my growing appreciation for forest management and the intricate depths it has to it.
To end my interview with all three forestry professionals I asked, “What do you think the biggest threat to Oregon timberland is?” Considering they all have different backgrounds in forestry, I got three different perspectives. Rick Barnes said, “Oregon Legislature. Right now I am on conference calls weekly with two different organizations that deal with all of the different bills that come through. Some of them are tax related and if they were passed, the way that they are written, it would put a lot of people out of business.” John Blodgett Jr. said, “Mismanagement is the biggest threat to Oregon timberland, which carries over to forest fire.” This correlates with what Mike Cloughesy had to say, “The greatest threat is fire, nobody wins when the forest burns up.” As I learned from all three of them, mismanagement is a huge threat to Oregon timberlands whether it takes place within Oregon legislature or the practices that are being implemented in our forests. When forests are mismanaged, it takes away from creating an environmentally sound forest practice that everyone benefits from.
I also learned from these three forestry professionals about how much forest management has evolved over the years. I learned that forest management has evolved through not only the practices of it, but also the technology and who takes part in the profession. At least 40 years ago, foresters like Mr. Cloughesy had to use sticks to measure trees and now that all can be done with laser range finders that provide more accuracy than before. Foresters also back then used to look at units with aerial photos and draw maps by hand, but now all that can be done using computer software programs like Google Earth. With the evolution of forest management, another thing that has progressed throughout the years is the people that take part in this profession. “Slowly but surely you are finding an increasing number of women that work in forestry. What a difference that makes, it really levels the playing field,” said Mr. Cloughesy. This is particularly exciting from my perspective because it shows that there is no single stereotype that anyone needs to abide by in order to work in forestry. You don’t need to be or have anything except a passion that drives your motivation to further promote and enhance forest management and forestry in general.
For the majority of my life I grew up in a rural town where I was surrounded by people and family members that worked in some type of profession related to forestry. I grew up shed hunting, tracking animals, and driving through old logging units with my brother. It was not until I worked on this scholarship that I truly realized the meaning and benefits behind forest management. I learned how forest management not only protects the ecological diversity in Oregon’s timberlands, but also supports communities and their needs. People practice forest management for a variety of reasons, but most importantly because the forest matters. Without forest management, not only wildlife and their habitats would suffer, but also communities that depended on it would suffer as well. Oregon is the number one leader in both softwood lumber and plywood production (Oregon Forest Resources Institute, 2019). This creates stability not only for healthy communities that are dependent on the forest, but also for the 61,000 Oregonians that are employed within the forest industry. I also learned that the mixture of the public and private sector’s forestland helps the forest and the community by using their own parts of the stability triangle, mentioned by Mr. Cloughesy. Most importantly, I learned that it isn’t any one person’s job to make sure the forest is getting what it needs to be able to benefit itself and the community. This is a matter of Oregon legislature, the community, and forestry professionals working together to enhance and maintain forest management practices that keep the unique 30.5 million acres of forestland healthy and productive.