Environment & Logging
Progressive Rules Assure Sound Forest Ecosystems
When surveyed, Oregonians indicated that it is important to have forest protection
laws requiring reforestation and protection of environmental values such as water
That being said, it is all the more striking that 70% percent of these same respondents
said they knew little or nothing about the Oregon Forest Practices Act (OFPA).
Oregon became one of the first states to regulate forestry in 1971 when the Legislature
passed the Oregon Forest Practices Act. Since then, the state's forest practice
rules have been a national model for environmental protection during timber harvest
and reforestation. The state is a leader in governing forest operations to ensure
the continued growing and harvesting of trees while protecting soil, air and water
quality, and fish and wildlife resources.
To keep the Forest Practices Act on the cutting-edge, protections have been strengthened
over the years as new knowledge became available. And who has always led in the
call to create and update Oregon's tough forest practice rules? Oregon's forest
professionals in our forest industry have always thrown the first pitch -- by asking
for sound standards to keep our forests sustainable for future generations.
This progressive act is administered by Oregon's Department of Forestry, and applies
to 11.7 million acres of non-federal forest land. Annually, there are more than
20,000 forest operations on Oregon's non-federal forest lands. Monitoring by state
foresters assures that diverse resources are protected during harvest, and that
trees are planted to provide sustainable future forests. The focus of the program
is to educate and encourage landowners to voluntarily be active stewards of their
forest land. Oregon protects its forest resources through 'Forest Practice Rule'
- Reforest within two years of harvest -- All forests must be adequately
stocked with healthy tree saplings, or planted native seedlings. Furthermore, forest
operators must ensure that young trees are well established and free to grow following
reforestation. Oregon has the highest voluntary reforestation compliance rate in
the nation -- averaging 97%. As an example, landowners in Oregon planted trees to
reforest a total of 171,571 acres in 1999. Nearly 49 million seedlings were planted
-- that's 14 seedlings for every Oregonian.
- Permits required before harvest -- Prior notification must be approved
by state forest officials who review operations for compliance, paying special attention
to those areas where the damage potential is greatest. Written harvest plans are
required for logging main streams, wetlands, and unstable steep slopes. If such
plans are not approved by the state, harvest cannot proceed. To ensure compliance
with forest rules, forest protection foresters monitor operations involving tree
harvest, reforestation, fertilizer & chemical application, and road building
- Provide comprehensive riparian protection -- New 'Stream Rules'
updated in 1995 assure water quality, fish habitat and wetlands are guarded. These
stream rules help ensure that Oregon's Salmon Plan will be successful in recovering
abundant salmon numbers.
- Protect habitat and biodiversity -- Retain sensitive wildlife sites,
snags and down-wood, while promoting landscape structure and aesthetics. Limit regeneration
harvest size to 120 acres.
- Maintain productivity and minimize road impacts -- Use methods
that minimize soil disturbance and promote growth. Apply strict road construction
and maintenance standards.
Forest owners cooperate to improve salmon habitat
Many forest companies have voluntarily committed to assess and upgrade forest roads,
improve stream habitat, as well as prioritize leave-tree placement near streams.
Such voluntary measures will cost forest owners upwards of $200 million over the
next decade. The forest industry committed to a new $14 million harvest tax to support
a healthy streams partnership.
New measures encourage forest stewardship
New agreements between the state and landowners inspire voluntary private projects
designed to enhance or restore forest resources, and even reforest long-standing
deforested areas--thereby improving future forest productivity.
Scientists study forest landslides and operations
Requested by the forest industry after record rain storms in 1996, the Oregon Legislature
passed a moratorium on harvesting and road building where potential landslides could
risk public safety. This moratorium allows time for additional research and evaluation
by state agencies and a blue-ribbon task force. Studies by Oregon State Univ., OR
Dept. of Forestry and others will help determine appropriate updates in landslide
hazard mapping, land use planning, emergency warnings, highway closure alerts, and
A law with big teeth -- The Oregon Forest Practices Act and its rules are backed
by very stringent enforcement procedures and penalties. Overall compliance averages
over 97% each year.