An AP article appeared in several Oregon newspapers over the last few days, such as this one: “Private forest owners have started salvaging timber burned this summer.”
Salvage logging on land burned by last summer’s Douglas Complex wildfire in southwestern Oregon is in full swing in privately owned forests, but not in federal ones.
Roseburg Forest Products has cut 8 million board feet of timber from its lands outside Glendale and plans to cut 32 million board feet more, The News-Review reported. One million board feet is roughly enough to build 50 homes.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management is still deep in the planning process and has no firm timber targets for the public land.
With that planning process and the likely appeals and perhaps litigation, I reckon no Douglas Complex timber will be salvaged from federal lands. Phil Adams, timber manager for Roseburg Forest Products, is “afraid that burned timber on BLM lands will turn into brush and stands of dead trees unless they are aggressively managed.”
On a related topic, I re-watched a rebroadcast of an episode of Oregon Public Broadcasting’s excellent Oregon Field Guide, Season 23, Episode 2, a portion of which is “Elk at Mount St. Helens.” In the area where forests were blown down or buried by the eruption in 1980, private timberlands were salvaged and replanted, and Weyerhaeuser conducted its first commercial thinning in 2005. On federal lands in the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, “the environment is left to respond naturally to the disturbance,” according to the Monument’s web site. The Oregon Field Guide program described the huge increase in the elk population in the Monument — elk like the open space and forage. (The program didn’t say so, but I’d bet that the elk also like the cover they find in the stands of young timber on private lands, since there’s little cover on the federal side.) However, the elk population has grown so large that there isn’t enough forage. Scenes of emaciated elk and rotting carcasses led to a public call for the government to “do something,” and that they did — they brought in hay during the winter. So much for letting the environment “respond naturally to the disturbance.” Now, if wolves had been reintroduced….