The Oregon Natural Resources Report - Agricultural News from Oregon

Support for 2013 Oregon & California Land Grant Act

December 9, 2013

outdoor-council-oregonThe Oregon Outdoor Council is pleased to announce support for The Oregon and California Land Grant Act of 2013.
By Oregon Outdoor Council

History and Proposal
According to O&C Lands Act of 1937 the lands are to be managed “for permanent forest production, and the timber thereon shall be sold, cut, and removed in conformity with the principal of sustained yield for the purpose of providing a permanent source of timber supply, protecting watersheds, regulating stream flow, and contributing to the economic stability of local communities and industries, and providing recreational facilities[i]

 However, according to testimony given to the (federal) Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on June 25, 2013 by:

Dr. K. Norman Jonhson, Dept of Forest Ecosystems and Society, Oregon State University
Dr. Jerry F. Franklin, School of Environmental Forest Science, University of Washington

“The current strategy has a limited time-frame (perhaps 15 years) until it will exhaust harvest opportunities; also, it produces only very modest payments to the counties in which these forests lie.[ii]

 The O&C Act of 2013 essentially splits the O&C lands in two. Half will be managed with a goal of timber production and half will be managed with a goal towards conservation of old growth forest. While those in the “radical” environmental community find it troubling and those in the timber sector find it falls short of their desires[iii] – we at OOC find it a well balanced approach.

Current Forest Management (NWFP 1994)
Currently, the O&C lands are managed under the Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP) of 1994. Since the plan’s implementation, timber harvests have declined drastically. Statistically, federal forests in Oregon only harvest approximately 8% of the average annual harvest in the 30 years prior.

Blacktail Deer Declining 1% Annually
Furthermore, since the implementation of the NWFP, blacktail deer hunter harvest has declined from an average of 45,000 to less than 20,000.

Northwest forest plan negatively impacts blacktail deer and hunter harvest

The Northwest Forest Plan Has Severely Hurt Blacktail Deer Populations and Hunter Harvest.

The decline in hunter harvest is, in at least part, due to the blacktail deer population decline. In 1979 the blacktail deer population was estimated at 450,000 and as of 2012 is estimated at 300,000, which is a 33% decline.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) Blacktail Deer Management Plan of 2008 attributes the decline in deer population to the implementation of the NWFP, increased predation and disease[iv].

Increased logging will provide much needed early seral forage required for sustained deer populations. Again, according to the ODFW Blacktail Deer Management Plan of 2008, black-tailed deer populations are dependent on the native food sources found in early successional stages of the forest (Miller 1966, Crouch, 1968, 1868b, Hines 1973, Verts and Carraway 1998). Changes in land management, timber management activities, and land use have contributed to a decline in early seral forb and shrub habitats available to deer.”

“Both forest clear-cutting and fires open up the forest canopy and promote shrub, forb, and grass communities. Fire, historically, was probably the single most important factor in maintaining and creating forage for black-tailed deer.”

Opponents of the Bill
The main opponents of the bill are Cascadia Wildlands, Oregon Wild, The Sierra Club, Portland Audubon Society and the Center for Biological Diversity. These groups have been long time allies of Representative Peter Defazio. In a recent Oregonian article, Rep. Defazio calls these groups “radical environmental groups” that “want zero cut on federal land.[v]” Moreover, Cascadia Wildlands Executive Director Bob Ferris is guilty of attempting to discredit the hunting community by making false accusations about former OOC Executive Director Jerod Broadfoot. Mr. Ferris has made every attempt, including fabricating facts and printing erroneous information, to promote his agenda[vi].

Hunters Deserve Better
Radical environmentalists continue to claim to be “natural allies” of the hunting community while hurting huntable wildlife populations and attacking hunting community leaders. Hunters are contributing more than their fair share! In Oregon and across the nation, hunters are the original conservationists. Sportsmen have contributed $14.5 billion for preservation of wetlands, the national wildlife refuge system and wildlife management. Oregon sportsmen have a $1.6 billion economic ripple effect annually[vii]. We deserve a bigger voice in wildlife and forest management!

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Discuss this article

Enviro-Checker December 11, 2013

It follows that, with the judicial decision upholding the primary utilization mandate of the 1937 O&C Act, the environmental movement’s response would be to repeal the act. This should surprise no one. The repeal, and its replacement scheme have been in the works for years. Those who oppose timber production had to have a fall back plan once the inevitable litigation took place. That the attack would be predicated upon what the environmentalists call “science” should be no surprise either. Their favoriteand most effective ploy is to advance
their agenda behind the charade of what they call “science.” Their “science” is a farce built upon a sand hill of false facts and irrelevant projections.

Senator Wyden’s “Oregon & California Land Grant Act of 2013″ would amend and effectively destroy the mandates ofthe 1937 Act by doing away with half of the roughly 2.1 million acres dedicated to sustained yield timber production and would establish new mandates for the remainder. The Senator tells us this is necessary to resolve the legal impasses that prevent a “return to the unsustainable logging levels of a bygone era.” This is, of course, false fact number one.

According to data published by the Association of O&C Counties, these lands had an inventory of 44 billion board feet of merchantable timber in the late 1930s when the law was enacted. During the roughly sixty years intervening between the Act and the adoption of the Northwest Forest Management Plan, more than 45 billion board feet were harvested. At that point, thanks to managed regeneration, the lands
supported a standing inventory of some 60 billion board feet. That experience established that the 2.1 million acres could and would sustain harvests at a level of 1.2 billion board feet per year in perpetuity.

This data tracks exactly the BLM’s own reports. Their WOPR “Plan Revision News” Newsletter #9 indicated a standing inventory in 1950 of 50 billion board feet, a harvest over the ensuing 50 years of 45 billion board feet, and a resultant standing inventory in 2000 of 70 billion board feet.

To avoid the “sustainable” production mandate of the law, our Governor, when he addressed Congress on the issue in April told
them that we are now dealing with a “broadened sustainability criteria.” He feels that FLPMA and the ESA have amended the 1937 Act as to the meaning of “shall be managed, except as provided in section 1181c of this title, for permanent forest production,and the
timber thereon shall be sold, cut, and removed in conformity with the principal (sic) of sustained yield . . . .” This might be an acceptable position unless one also considers the rest of the sentence, “for the purpose of providing a permanent source of timber supply, protecting watersheds, regulating stream flow, and contributing to the economic stability of local communities and industries and providing recreational facilities” which are the very concerns addressed in FLPMA and the ESA. The historic fact is that the 1937 Act was a conservation effort that introduced the concepts later expanded by FLPMA and ESA to all federal lands.

Wyden boasts that his scheme aims at “doubling timber harvests over the next 10 years compared to the last 10 years.” He explains that harvests during the recent decade “have averaged 149.5 million board feet per year.” So he apparently believes that 300 million board feet per year will suit our needs nicely. Note that his represents 1/3 of the 900 million per year that was historically produced and 1/4 of the 1.2 billion board feet per year proven to be sustainable. Even
considering the fact that he would reduce the producing acreage by half, his management scheme for the remainder fallsfar short of the what is sustainable.

This would be irrelevant projection number one. When it comes to revenue generation, doubling nothing is still nothing. Without directly attacking all that is wrong with Wyden’s House Built on a Slime Foundation, it would seem adequate to point to two additional fundamental defects. Initially, there is the goal Wyden espouses to “permanently protect old growth trees, ensure habitat for sensitive species, and put in place strong safeguards for drinking water and fish.” In the abstract, this is a lofty goal and highly desirable.
Wyden, however, forgets that this objective is well addressed in the management of Oregon forests. We have lands set aside for wilderness. We have national monuments. We have Wild and ScenicRivers. We have Wild and Scenic Corridors and we have the vast array of National Forests. Why is it so hard to conceptualize that 10% of our forest capacity should be set aside for production?

Finally, one has to question why it is necessary for Senator Wyden to re-invent the wheel? For fifty years the 1937 Act worked perfectly until the environmentalists took exception. Either they are opposed to production altogether or they are opposed to the methods of production. Since Wyden speaks in terms of restoring
production to some level, one would have totake him at his word and conclude he is not against production as such. The answer can only be that environmentalists do not like regeneration forestry. And, inresponse to the question “Will this bill allow clear cuts?”, Wyden is emphatic, “No. End of story.” The value of clear cuts in terms of the health of the forest is the material for another critique. Suffice it to say that it is clear that the only reason for turning the whole system of forestry management upside down is to do away with clear cuts. Does it make any sense to bankrupt counties, to destroy economies, and to put an entire forest at risk for the sole purpose of satisfying the aesthetic preferences of a minority?
Jack Swift
December, 2013

Enviro-Checker December 12, 2013

RE: Your concern about clear cuts and the Wyden Plan.

You might consider the following:

Regarding Clear Cuts

It might be fairly said that the entire thrust of Senator Wyden’s effort to repeal the 1937 O&C Act is purely and simply to eliminate clear-cuts. As he has said: “Will there be clear-cuts? No. End of story.” This restriction is clear in the structure of his bill whether it is addressing conservation lands or forestry lands. But Senator Wyden offers no rationale for the elimination. He describes no advantage to be gained by the elimination. The approach is simply that clear-cuts must go. One is left to ask, “What’s wrong with clear-cuts?”

As much as the Sierra Club idolizes John Muir as the original environmentalist, no one has done more to popularize the environmental movement that the poet Robert Frost. Whether he describes stopping by woods on a snowy evening or choosing a path less traveled, his reader is always impressed that Frost has been there, that he personally experienced the sensations he was so talented at describing – and that he grasped the truth. And, if the reader also has been there, the reader knows the truth of the sensations and emotions experienced. This is important in the matter of clear-cutting because of a lovely book of poetry written by Frost in the 1950s – “In the Clearing.”

As only poetry can do, Frost’s book eulogizes the joy experienced by the woodsman when he comes to a clearing in the woods. The wonderful expansions of the sensations of life, joy and freedom that overwhelm one when suddenly released for a moment from the shadows and confines of canopies and crowded age old trees and moss.

In the clearing there is life. Where the sun can penetrate, young green growth can sprout and the cycle of life can go on. In the clearing, one is released from the dark tomb of hoary old trees tenaciously clinging to the last moments of quiet destiny. In the clearing, wildlife in all forms can thrive. All creatures come there to dine on the sustenance provided by the sunlight and the miracle of photosynthesis. The birds – be they quail, grouse or chickadees – forage on the seeds to be found. The mice, the wood rats and the voles can find food. The deer and the elk feast upon the tender shoots of new green growth. And the creatures that prey upon all the rest come there to feed also – the bobcats, cougars, wolves and coyotes. Even owls need the life found in the clearings if they are to eat. In the clearing, in the sunlight, the cycle of life renews itself and creatures young and old go there to survive.

A clearing is nature’s nursery. It is in the clearing that youth can thrive. There is nothing other than shelter and cover for the young in the dark woods. The message is simple. Eliminate the clearings and you eliminate the life you associate with the wild and the wilderness. Likewise, where there are clearings, nature provides wildlife.

Clearings are important to the forest itself. Fire is an integral part of the natural forest regime. There are several species of trees in which their seeds will only open when exposed to the heat of a forest fire. But, unchecked, fire can be a stand replacement event. Against such catastrophic loss, clearings stand as natural fire-breaks.

It should be clear that clearings are good. They are natural. They provide for the maximum development of all that is natural. By contrast, hoary old growth stands are tombs. They provide nothing and are only unproductive monuments to the past, soundlessly awaiting their doom.

Even the center of the old growth controversy – the spotted owl – needs clearings. While old growth stands may provide nesting habitat for the owl, they provide no forage because they foster no life other than their own. The owl lives on voles and voles live in clearings. The owl needs nesting habitat but it also needs forage habitat.

Besides their natural value, clear-cuts play an important part in the process of sustained yield timber cultivation. Clear-cutting, where the terrain will allow it, is the essence of rapid regeneration. It has been clear-cutting that made possible the remarkable increase of the merchantable timber inventory from 44 billion board feet to 60 billion after harvesting some 45 billion. Clear-cutting makes for rapid and cost- effective regeneration. While not without cost – young regeneration stands lack the fire resilience of older stands, these costs have been proven to be manageable if they are in fact managed with fire protection in mind. Without clear-cutting, forest management as envision by Wyden, Frankin and Johnson produces less merchantable timber and what is produced is far more expensive. If one would have a small percentage of our forests devoted to timber production for the benefit of the economy and the support of local government, rapid regeneration and tree plantation are the proven means.

It should be obvious that clear cuts are nothing more nor less than man-caused clearings. If clearings are good for nature, clear-cuts cannot be bad. Perhaps if Wyden were something other than a drive-by environmentalist, perhaps, instead, a nature enthusiast who actually walked the deep woods, he would understand. If he understood, he certainly would not propose this monstrosity of legislation he calls the Oregon & California Land Grant Act of 2013.

Jack Swift
Southern Oregon Resource Alliance

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