Supply Chain Council of European Union |
Supply Chain Risk

In My Opinion: Bring balance to federal lands – Opinion – The Register-Guard

Most Oregonians support a balanced approach to federal forest management, and most of us recognize the economic and climate benefits of harvesting and processing local timber. There’s broad consensus that science-based management can make our forests more resilient, protect wildlife, and clean our drinking water. But, are federal lands managed in a balanced, sustainable way?

The Forest Service is the largest forest landowner in Oregon and by law manages for multiple uses and is guided by a public process with very strong environmental laws. Federal lands are broken into “land use allocations” with distinct management objectives to address their multiple use mandate. Unfortunately, the unbalanced proportion of these objectives on the landscape doesn’t allow healthy forests to flourish.

Nearly 85% of federal land in western Oregon and Washington and northwestern California is reserved from timber management objectives in the Northwest Forest Plan and set aside for the northern spotted owl in late-successional reserves (30%) and recreation in congressionally designated wilderness (30%). In wilderness, all forms of management are explicitly banned by law and limited management occurs in the other reserve areas.

By contrast, only about 15% of these lands are designated for sustained-yield timber management. Even in these timber specific areas, the Forest Service has often marginalized the importance of managing for a sustainable supply, categorizing the timber as a “by-product”.

According to the Synthesis of Science to Inform Land Management Within the Northwest Forest Plan Area, “All seral stages contribute to native forest biodiversity, wildfire regimes, and resilience to wildfires and climatic changes. […] Thus, conservation of native forest biodiversity is more than managing for a single type of old growth or a single successional stage.”

The Northwest Forest Plan assumed a level of regeneration harvest, a critical component to balance forest successional stages, but it has largely been neglected on federally managed lands over the past 25 years. Furthermore, the synthesis states that the northern spotted owl’s population hasn’t recovered due to loss of habitat from wildfire and competition from the barred owl.

If you read the report from Gov. Brown’s nonpartisan Council on Wildfire Response, you’d realize more than 90 percent of the most at-risk forests in the state are on federal lands.

However, there is a better way – a way that restores balance and common sense to how we manage federal forests.

Federal agencies in Oregon are already at work with the public to update and modernize their land management plans, providing us with a great opportunity to learn from our past mistakes, adopt cutting-edge approaches, apply new science, and align our systems to reflect the size and scope of the problems we face.

In order to restore our federal forests and meet the need for renewable wood products, forests must be managed according to their plans, utilizing all of the tools for management they are afforded. Oregon’s fire prone forest and struggling communities depend on a balanced approach, based on science, that learns from its past failures.

Amanda Astor is a forester with America Forest Resource Council and a monthly contributor to The Register-Guard.

Related posts

Revelations and Opportunities: What the United States Can Learn from the Sino-Indian Crisis


Cybersecurity experts say supply chains need strengthening


Guest Opinion: Companies need to get real about climate risk, by Bloomberg News – The Keene Sentinel