Associated Oregon Loggers, Inc.
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Sustaining Forest Society - Communities & Forest Users

Forest Sustainable Society Image


Forest Sustainable Society Image 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).

Forest Sustainable Society ImageRural 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:

  • Forest Sustainable Society ImageThriving and growing middle-class standard of living
  • 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 forest area).

Forest Sustainable Society ImageKeeping 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, including:

  1. Rising costs of regulation or taxes make owning, growing & harvesting forests no longer financially feasible, particularly for family forestland owners;
  2. Loss of forest sector infrastructure and markets in a community makes forestry too costly and product markets too distant to be economical;
  3. Competing land uses promise more viable or economical than does forestry;
  4. Land use regulations foster or allow conversion to non-forest uses;
  5. 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.

Forest Sustainable Society ImageBest 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.

Forest Sustainable Society ImageIn 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 operating technology.

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.

Forest Sustainable Society ImageForests for Outdoor Recreation and Aesthetics

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 management.

Forest Sustainable Society ImageThe 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.

Forest Sustainable Society ImageWorking Forest / Wood Production and Rural Recreation

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.

Forest Sustainable Society ImageMultiple-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.

Forest Sustainable Society ImageReserved 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.

Forest Sustainable Society ImageWood Use in Our Daily Lives is a Social Value

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 in America.

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.

Forest Sustainable Society Image

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.

Forest Sustainable Society Image 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!