CA forest die off, Owl listing revisited…

by Rex Storm, Forest Policy Manager
Associated Oregon Loggers

California National Forest Die-off: US Forest Service scientists say more than 12 million trees in California’s southern Sierra Nevada national forests have died during the last couple year’s drought—and the die-off is forecasted to continue. Consecutive years of drought have stressed trees, making them susceptible to mortality from bark beetles and disease. The die-back now out-paces wildfire loss, while fires will increase in those dying forests. Overcrowded and dying national forests make for costly fire losses, threaten public safety, reduce aesthetics, and impact timber yield.

Owl Listing to be Reexamined: Federal biologists will consider tightening the Endangered Species Act listing status for the northern spotted owl, from “threatened” to “endangered.” The US Fish & Wildlife Service announced in April that it agreed with an environmental group’s petition to for a listing reassessment. After the owl was listed as “threatened” in 1990 in western OR, WA and CA, timber harvest was reduced by over 90% in federal forests. The USFWS says that owl numbers are still declining, due to barred owl competition, wildfires, and habitat loss of large trees.

Forest Sector Injured by Federal Forest Decline: A US Forest Service research report found the US share of global wood products production declined since the 1990s, due to less national forest management. The Northwest region’s share of US timber harvest fell from 26% to 15%, 1986 to 1996. The impact of reduced federal harvests “…was significant and negative for most wood processors, forest sector employment, income, and Federal revenue sharing with counties…” The shift away from federal harvest led to increased domestic prices and increased Canadian imports.


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