Sustaining Forest Society - Communities & Forest Users
Communities that Thrive Within Forests
Keeping Forestlands; Avoiding Conversion
Best Way to Keep Forestlands is to Assure Viable Forestry
Forests for Outdoor Recreation and Aesthetics
Working Forest / Wood Production and Rural Recreation
Multiple-Use Forest / Multi-Resource and Recreation Variety
Reserved Forest / Wilderness; Roadless and Primitive Recreation
Wood Use in Our Daily Lives is a Social Value
Communities that Thrive Within Forests
Many communities throughout Oregon, especially those in rural areas, and those near
the state’s vast 30 million acres of forestland, rely on the surrounding forests
for their livelihood and recreation. According to the latest statistics, Oregon's
forest sector still provides family-wage employment for over 76,000 Oregonians -
nearly 5.3% of all jobs, and $5.2 billion in total income (2012).
Rural communities have grown, tended,
logged and protected nearby forests for well over a century. The forest management—and
forest product manufacturing—culture is thoroughly woven into the fabric of over
a hundred Oregon communities. The forest sector today remains one of Oregon’s top
traded goods that fuels the state’s quality of life, its commerce and society. Even
cities such as Eugene-Springfield derives vital contributions to its civic, education,
business, employment, manufacturing and cultural communities—because the forest
sector is a major component for the city’s residents, employment, commerce and government—either
directly, indirectly, or induced.
Community stability and growth occurs in communities, which are located near Oregon
forests actively managed for either timber production or multiple uses. Working
forests in America have proven to sustainably support strong communities, vibrant
societies, rewarding values, rising commerce, expanding workforce, and population
growth. Where actively managed productive forests are near a community, there exist
many important societal advantages, including:
- Thriving and growing middle-class standard
- Growth of the non-farm labor force
- Growing school census; fewer subsidized school meals
- Lower crime and poverty; less food stamp demand
- Ample county government services
- Increasing education levels
- High civic participation and responsibility
On the contrary, where active forest management has been denied across forested
landscapes, and administrative prohibitions against forestry have encumbered vast
forestland tracts, then the nearby communities weaken, commerce deteriorates, school
census drops, government services falter, much of the workforce leaves, population
shrinks, societies decay, poverty and social dilemmas swell, and values decline.
Since 1990, this societal decline has been the challenge for many beleaguered rural
Oregon communities located near federal forests. Communities near federal forests
have languished, since chronic forestry prohibitions began after 1990 to hobble
the 16 million acres of federal forestland across Oregon (over half of Oregon’s
Keeping Forestlands; Avoiding Conversion
Conversion to non-forest land uses takes place when forestland is developed for
some other use, such as home development, agricultural crops, or even a vineyard.
Also known as “deforestation,” once forestland is converted to a non-forest land
use, it rarely returns to forestland, and with it goes the benefits for which Oregonians
value forests: aesthetics, recreation, timber, forested range, wildlife habitat,
clean air and water. Converting forestland to non-forest uses also results in fragmentation
of habitat and wildlife barriers.
Across the world, a shocking 50% of forestland has been converted to some other
use, primarily for agriculture. Washington State has lost several percent of its
forestland in recent decades. However in Oregon, it’s estimated that only 8% percent
of Oregon’s forestland has been converted to non-forest use since 1630, while population
increased tenfold. And since 1953, less than 1% of Oregon’s forestland has been
converted to non-forest use.
Forestland conversion occurs in western US forests because of one or more reasons,
- Rising costs of regulation or taxes make owning, growing & harvesting forests no
longer financially feasible, particularly for family forestland owners;
- Loss of forest sector infrastructure and markets in a community makes forestry too
costly and product markets too distant to be economical;
- Competing land uses promise more viable or economical than does forestry;
- Land use regulations foster or allow conversion to non-forest uses;
- Willing property buyers or better income can be derived from land use conversion.
When and where keeping the land as forest is no-longer financially feasible, the
forest landowner’s most attractive alternative is to sell or convert the land to
some non-forest land use. The threats of conversion are particularly keen for small
forestland owners having limited capital.
Best Way to Keep Forestlands is to
Assure Viable Forestry
The most effective means to foster private forestlands remaining in a forested condition
is to assure that forest landowners have viable options to conduct financially-feasible
forest management. Oregonians recognize that assuring the abundance of our forest
resources helps everyone, and that keeping them economically viable prevents their
conversion into non-forest use.
Oregon has strict laws for protecting forests. Some have been in place since 1941.
These laws have been developed and updated as an ongoing collaboration between landowners,
scientists, policymakers, and elected officials. Protection laws help ensure that
all Oregon forests operate under a unified set of guidelines and practices to help
assure that forestlands are sustained for future generations. Forest laws encourage
private landowners to economically grow and harvest forest trees, land use laws
respect forestland values, and that in limited situations the law allows a property
owner to choose to convert forestland to a non-forest use. There are two types of
Oregon laws that protect the growing and harvesting of trees on forestland: a) forest
practices law; and b) land use law.
In 1971, Oregon became the first state
to implement a comprehensive forest practices law, which governs protection of natural
resources. The Oregon Forest Practices Act & Rules (OFPA) was developed with cooperation
among forest landowners, government and Oregonians working together. Since 1971,
the OFPA has been periodically updated to reflect new science and improved forestry
In 1973, the Oregon adopted the Oregon Land Use Act, which required all counties
to adopt comprehensive land use plans that would assure forestland and farmland
would be conserved across the rural Oregon landscape. The land use law’s purpose
was to protect the landowner’s property value so that viable forestry and farming
remained sustainable land uses in the Oregon economy. The land use law has been
periodically updated to reflect improved land use policies.
The purpose of these two laws is to preserve forested land for forest uses—and to
assure that forest landowners have economically-viable options to conduct forest
management. Conserving forestland protects it as a fiscal value for the landowner
and the state economy, an outdoor recreational outlet for Oregonian’s quality of
life, and a natural resource for abundant habitats, and clean water & air.
Forests for Outdoor Recreation and
Oregon forests and forested rangelands are well endowed with natural resources,
and Oregonians show a real interest and commitment to managing their forests to
assure continued use of their favorite recreation activities, sites, trails and
landscapes. Tourism by Oregon visitors, combined with state residents, regard forested
recreation as an important social value derived from the state’s 30 million acres
of forestland. The social value of “forest recreation” relies solidly on access,
use, and appreciation of a wide range of outdoor activity opportunities.
A simple definition of forest recreation is: People interacting with forests for
leisure purposes, outdoor activities, visual aesthetic appreciation, and experiencing
forests for the resources that forestlands can offer.
Outdoor forest recreation is enjoyable, it contributes greatly to the physical,
mental, and spiritual health of individuals, bonds family and friends, instills
pride in heritage, and provides economic benefits to communities, regions, and the
nation. Indeed, outdoor recreation has become an essential part of Oregon and American
culture. Participation in forest recreational activities is the way most visitors
come to forests, making it an important means for understanding, history, and forest
The social value of “forest recreation”
cannot be fully realized unless Oregon forests are managed with a variety of diverse
and different strategies. Oregon forests necessarily must offer a wide range of
different recreational activities/opportunities enjoyed by residents and tourism
visitors alike who come to Oregon forestlands. Recreation relies solidly on access,
use, and appreciation of this wide range of outdoor activity opportunities.
Forestry and timber management, when properly planned, can enhance visual appearance
and improve recreational opportunities. Forest landowners can simultaneously manage
their forest for timber, recreation, beauty, wildlife, fish, and investment. Integrating
forest management for scenic beauty and structural diversity can be viewed as landscaping
on a grand scale. Working forests have many of the same aesthetic and recreational
values as multiple-use forests.
Oregon forests are so highly valued for their recreational diversity because there
are several types of forests in Oregon. All forests need some form of management
to ensure their continued health for recreational use. Each of the following types
of Oregon forest offers a different package of recreation experiences.
Working Forest / Wood Production and
This type of forestland is actively-managed primarily for timber production that
protects water quality, habitat, and abundant recreation. Because of the well-managed
forest road network in these forests, these lands are treasured for their recreation
activities, such as OHV riding (off-highway vehicle), horseback riding, hunting,
fishing, camping, and woodcutting. Evidence of timber harvesting, large openings,
young forests, and roads are common across this landscape. Wildlife and fish are
abundant in these forests because birdlife and fauna thrive in the diversity of
forest structures and stream productivity. These forests are commonly privately-owned,
thereby requiring adherence to landowner access guidance and permission. In some
seasons, forest roads into these forests may be gated closed. Recreation use, including
motorized activities, are common across working forests.
Multiple-Use Forest / Multi-Resource
and Recreation Variety
This forestland type is managed for a combination of multiple-uses including recreation,
water, habitat, forage and timber. While each of these many values may not occur
on every acre—or in every area—across the landscape there is a mosaic of different
management strategies employed. Portions of this forest include a well-managed forest
road network, where recreation activities might involve OHV riding, horseback riding,
hiking trails, hunting, fishing, camping, and woodcutting. Other areas may include
developed recreation sites, such as campgrounds, ski areas, or boat launches. On
the other hand, this forestland also includes remote, unroaded terrain where primitive
types of recreation and secluded hiking trails are available. A mix of different
forest management strategies is visible—both managed and less-managed—and wildlife/fish
abundance and diversity changes dramatically across the landscape. These forests
are dominated by public and tribal forests, though it does include some non-industrial
private forests, and some large privately-owned forests. Recreational access and
use of these multiple-use forests tends to be very localized—and changes significantly
depending on where in the forest you are situated. Recreational use thereby requires
adherence to locally-tailored landowner access rules and permits. In some seasons,
forest roads and recreational sites here may be gated closed or recreational uses
limited. Recreation uses are the most diverse and abundant of the three forest types,
across these multiple-use forests.
Reserved Forest / Wilderness; Roadless
and Primitive Recreation
This type of forestland is undeveloped and not actively-managed for natural resource
values. It is typically managed for preservation of a narrow set of environmental
values, such as old-growth habitat, natural settings, and absence of man’s influence.
While recreation is an included value in this forest type, recreational use is narrowly
limited to trails, primitive activities, aesthetic appreciation, or other low-impact
uses. Because this type lacks road access, recreation activities on these lands
are restricted to trails and waterways, such as hiking, rafting, backpacking, horseback
riding, hunting, or fishing. Wildlife and fish in these forests are often defined
by older forests or current natural forest conditions—including natural hazards
and large-scale disturbances. These forestlands are typically public and tribal
forests. Recreational access and use requires adherence to public access rules and
permits. In some seasons, recreational use here may be limited; non-motorized uses
are the most common. Recreation uses are limited to primitive and trail or river-based
activities in the reserved forests.
Wood Use in Our Daily Lives is a Social
America’s use of wood and paper has cultural and societal importance, well beyond
its economic or technical value. No matter where you are this very moment, chances
are there’s a product made with wood right within your reach. Every American uses
the equivalent of one tree, 100-foot tall, every year, in their consumption of wood
and paper products. Wood fiber is a practical and valued part of our way of life
Perhaps it’s surprising, but wood and paper products make up 47 percent of all raw
materials used in manufacturing in the United States, and that’s a good thing. Wood
is renewable, beautiful and durable, and its production compared to most other materials
takes significantly less energy consumption and has less impact on the environment.
Plus, when Oregon trees grow they take carbon out of the air, and release oxygen
into the sky, thereby helping to reduce the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and
cleansing the air. Keeping Oregon’s working forests healthy and fast-growing enhances
this air-cleansing effect of trees.
Because of its renewable and sustainable growth and harvest from Oregon forests,
wood is a “green,” superior material. Oregon-grown wood comes from trees harvested,
manufactured, and sold to all 50 states and many nations around the globe.
Materials such as steel, concrete, glass, or petroleum-based products, which consume
large amounts of energy to produce, cannot compare to the “green” qualities of wood.
Furthermore, Oregon wood is an attractive appearing product sought for architectural
building applications, cabinets, paneling, windows and doors. Oregon is America’s
leading producer of structural softwood, softwood plywood and engineered structural
Wood = Durability. A prime example of wood’s durability is Japan’s oldest wooden
building. This 122-foot-tall structure, built in 607 A.D., has withstood 46 earthquakes
of 7.0 or greater magnitude, and it’s still standing strong!