Another view of Oregon forestry
A June 9 column by The News-Review’s publisher, Jeff Ackerman, included a paragraph that claims poor harvests from Federal lands “… because the government and the courts can’t get out of each other’s way …”. Yes, there’s a dearth of clear-cut logging on public forests. However, several Oregon BLM districts have approached or even exceeded their assigned sale quantities by means of commercial thinning sales. During a recent discussion with local BLM administrators, I was informed that they have been forced to scale back the number of these operations due to budget constraints imposed by the infamous “sequester.” I was assured, however, that lots of thinning back logging remains to be accomplished.
Further, Ackerman’s claim, “That’s why most of our government-owned forest will eventually burn …” is ridiculous. Oregon’s moist forests may experience a stand replacement fire once every few hundred years, or not. Drier landscapes can expect to burn, with varying intensity, more often.
It’s important to remember that fire is an inescapable part of forest life cycles. It has been the rapid suppression of all fire over many decades that has allowed a build-up of the fuels that stoke severe fires, not the lack of clear-cuts. Tightly packed plantations burn hot and fast!
Not long ago, I visited a Lone Rock clear-cut operation, where I asked the amiable foreman which local mill these logs were being trucked to. “These logs are going to China,” I was told. How many other harvests from private industrial holdings have gone to supply foreign mills in recent years?
Lone Rock and other large forest owners no longer pay severance tax at harvest. Currently, their contribution to county government expenses falls far short of what it was as recently as the 1990s.
Joseph Patrick Quinn