Seeking the key to forest management by padlock


Forest Service lock-key

All.. I am glad to be back from a rigorous quarter of Christianity in Antiquity, Pastoral Care, and Spiritual Leadership. I can tell you that I learned in Antiquity that the world hasn’t necessarily gone downhill. When Christian sects don’t gouge each others’ eyes out .. the world is improving in at least one way :)! If you want to know more about my experiences in Spiritual World, I started another blog “

Anyway, enough about me. Here’s a link to Ron’s post on Not Without a Fight (PS if you read NWAF and want me to share a post here, just email me).

Ron’s note:  This no-nonsense op-ed comes to us from Salem, Oregon’s Statesman Journal; it was authored by Mickey Bellman and published Dec. 12th.

And so, another year passes, another U.S. congressional session parades into history and there is still no forest plan to address the management of our national forests.

Rep. Greg Walden blames the senators for the forest debacle. Both he and Rep. Peter DeFazio had authored bills to settle the quagmire of federal harvest levels.

Meanwhile, over in the Senate, Sen. Ron Wyden authored a bill to settle the federal timber issues and he blames those guys over in the House for not following through.

And so gridlock — nothing happens. No cures, no panaceas, no solution, no resolution to the forest debate that began when the spotted owl was declared to be “the canary in the coal mine.” What does remain is forest management by padlock.

For three decades, the controversy over forest management and timber harvest has continued in Western Oregon. While the federal harvest has shrunk to less than 10 percent of what it was in the 1980s, sawmills have closed, jobs have been lost, loggers have gone bankrupt and logging equipment suppliers now sell farm machinery. The tourist industry — touted by the eco-groups as our employment salvation — has indeed opened a few new REI and Cabela’s stores, but that is all.

As for the aforementioned northern spotted owl, its numbers and population continue to decline. Could the invading, aggressive barred owl be preying upon the more docile spotted owl? Or might it be the increasingly devastating forest fires that incinerate vast tracts of federal forest?   

Blacktail deer populations have declined every year since Clinton’s 1994 forest plan was passed. Without timber harvest to open the dense forest canopy, there is less browse at deer level on the forest floor. So, fewer deer for hunters to harvest, less revenue for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The O&C Counties of Oregon — counties that once received 25 percent to 50 percent of federal timber sale revenues to replace property taxes — now receive little or nothing, forcing Curry and Josephine counties to teeter on the brink of bankruptcy. Even the miniscule federal subsidies that were paid to prop up county budgets until the tourist dollars rolled in have now been discontinued by Congress.

Thank you, Congressmen. Your concern and support of federal forest management and Western Oregon is truly underwhelming!

Mickey Bellman of Salem is a professional consulting forester. He can be reached at [email protected].

I’m interested because I don’t think folks on this blog agree on 1) if there is really a problem, let alone 2) what to do about it.
Right now I’m curious from the folks who think things are fine.. what do you have to say to this op-ed?

4 thoughts on “Seeking the key to forest management by padlock”

  1. When one embraces the “Whatever Happens” mindset, of course, there are no forest “problems”. Even accidental arson is merely seen as “change”, or “disturbance”, and welcomed, as such. Losses of precious nesting habitats are discounted, while snag lovers rejoice in the fiery destruction of irreplaceable landscapes. Serial litigators enjoy a bumper crop of lawsuit targets, with their eyes on a monetary prize, in an economy that results in fewer and fewer donations.

    What is there not to like? *smirk*

    … but, seriously, folks. It looks like New Age conservationists prefer a balanced strategy of good stewardship, full transparency and active management of our impacted forests. It all is tied to increased education of forest lovers, and that takes time and effort. When people hear things like “salvage logging is a death sentence for spotted owls”, we know that the preservationists are getting very desperate.

  2. Interestingly, this came across my desk last week:

    Senator Wyden received an award from the National Association of State Foresters. Sen. Wyden says:

    “Foresters are a bedrock part of rural Oregon’s economy, both harvesting timber and doing the work to restore forests and reduce fire danger. That is why I pushed for years to pass this bill to protect forestry jobs, and why steering our country toward sensible forest policy remains one of my top priorities. I am proud to receive this honor from the National Association of State Foresters and to continue representing hardworking foresters in Oregon and across the country.”

    Sen. Wyden seems to be living on another planet! For years, federal forest policy has been to greatly diminish federal forest management. But, without a corresponding decrease in consumption, the American consumer has simply turned to foreign forests, especially the northern, boreal old-growth forests of Canada. Namely, almost 40% of our softwood consumption is now imported.

    In essence, federal forest policy has been to “save” our forests and to EXPORT our mills, jobs, and tax revenues! (While every politician says they are “fighting” to keep American jobs in America., this seems rather contradictory.)

    Further, isn’t there some sort of ethical problem when we “save” our forests but turn a blind eye to our impacts on forests elsewhere? I ask because (no surprise) I have yet to have a politician answer that question.

    MIckey Bellman writes some good stuff!

    • Most politicians (on both sides of the aisle) don’t want to expand the size of the Forest Service workforce. Democrats want less forest management and Republicans want “smaller government”. The Forest Service, itself, is just fine with hiring and training inexperienced people every year, to wield paintguns and do fieldwork. There are many barriers to correcting this situation. The Forest Service would love to “outsource” their timber preparation work to private contractors, instead.

  3. And the Forest Service use to an important source of local jobs in our rural communities. Now they bring in sale administrators from elsewhere who really are not on the ground familiar with the forests they are put in charge of “managing”. Not to mention it means less local jobs.
    We need to stop putting half the Forest Service budget for fire.
    I keep hoping things will change but I don’t know, been waiting 20 years already.
    I would think there are some problems in forest management the we could agree on doing a better job on.
    I am concerned because we basically have these two management policy in place for our forests here in Western Oregon. One is everything is turned into a Douglas fir plantations on short rotations and the other is it’s all critical habitat and should be no touch wilderness. Since the Northwest Forest plan was implemented we have had no balance in our Forest management at all.
    Are there folks who think things are fine?


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