BLM timber sale at Rainbow Ridge in Oregon's Benton County to test out ecological forestry that leaves parts of tract untouched while logging on large swaths to promote early seral habitat for healthy forests

Wendy Lisney

Wendy Lisney

Nov 8, 2012 – Industry Intelligence Inc.

LOS ANGELES , November 8, 2012 () –

In a U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) timber sale in Oregon, the concept of ecological forestry is to be tested out as a way to increase timber harvest on public land while continuing to restore healthy forests and protect habitat, reported the Corvallis Gazette-Times on Nov. 4.

The proposal calls for commercial thinning and variable retention harvest on about 120 acres in a wet area called Rainbow Ridge in Benton County. The area includes three previously logged tracts, with the biggest being 91 acres of 60-year-old trees.

Large swaths of timber would be logged to create early seral habitat, which promotes healthy forests, while leaving several smaller sections of forest untouched, BLM officials said during a tour in early November, the Corvallis Gazette-Times reported.

In an attempt to free up more timber harvests on public land, ecological forestry was developed by two forestry professors who had drafted the Northwest Forest Plan in 1994, Oregon State University’s Norm Johnson and Jerry Franklin from the University of Washington.

Conservation group Oregon Wild is opposed to expanding ecological forestry beyond the initial three pilot programs announced in 2010, although it probably will not try to block the Rainbow Ridge timber sale, reported the Corvallis Gazette-Times.

The American Forest Resource Council, a timber industry lobbying group, also has spoken up against ecological forestry. Although it agrees with the concept in theory, the practice has been on too small a scale so far to make a difference, said Council VP Ann Forest Burns.

Under the Northwest Forest Plan, three times as much timber should be harvested, Burns said, noting that she is against doing even more experiments instead of moving to implement that 1994 agreement, the Corvallis Gazette-Times reported.

Three pilot projects to test ecological forestry are already in progress in southern Oregon on BLM land in Coos Bay, Roseburg and Medford districts. This was approved in a program announced in 2010 by the secretary of the interior.

Logging volume is down under the plan because clearcuts have lagged behind thinning projects. This has had the unintended consequence of depriving forests of the early seral habitat they need to flourish, say Franklin and Johnson, reported the Corvallis Gazette-Times.

The primary source of this article is the Corvallis Gazette-Times, Corvallis, Oregon, on Nov. 4, 2012.


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