Part Four of Five –
Forest Management –
“Can’t see the forest for the trees” …
Is a phrase I ponder during this portion of my information quest; and to help me form guiding questions for part five.
- The Northwest Forest Plan– authors approached forest management in an historic, new way. For the first time, decisions were made for the purpose of conserving biodiversity with a specific focus on endangered species.
- The FOREST is seen… Question: have the trees inadvertently been harmed?
- Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act (H.R. 1526)- authors approached forest management with more traditional thinking, the sustained yield model, which is focused on a continuous supply of timber.
- The TREES are seen… Question: has the forest been over-looked?
- Oregon and California Land Grant Act of 2013 (S. 1784)- the author approached forest management by offering a middle-ground solution that offers provisions for conservation and methods to harvest timber using “ecological forestry.”
- The FOREST and the TREES are seen… Question: has one been seen to the detriment of the other?
Once again, I think it’s helpful to take a step back to put the Oregon and California Land Grant Act of 2013 into perspective. That’s where H.R. 1526, authored by Representatives: Doc Hastings, Greg Walden, Peter DeFazio, and Ken Schrader comes into play. This bill was passed in the House on September 20, 2013 and goes to the Senate next for consideration. Although it is called, the Healthy Forest for Healthy Communities Act, some contend the name of the bill is misleading. Predictions are, if the bill makes it to the President, it will be vetoed. Ron Wyden’s Senate Bill, The Oregon and California Land Grant Act of 2013 (S.1784) has been authored in reaction to H.R. 1526.
Healthy Forest for Healthy Communities Act (H.R. 1526) –
I discovered that the foundations for H.R. 1526 actually do go back to a time in United States history when trees …neither conservation nor ecology…were the focus for forest-harvest management. Although Theodore Roosevelt had already made great strides in preserving millions of acres of forest lands through designation of Federal Forests and Monuments; actual practices for the conservation of resources was still largely a topic he passionately spoke about in speeches to the nation. How did Teddy Roosevelt impact conservation? Another guiding question for part five- forming and opinion…
Back in 1908, unharnessed consumption of natural resources was at full tilt as the United States expanded during the Industrial Revolution. Timber was harvested with great fervor and states with counties that contained national forest land were paid 25% of the Forest Service’s gross receipts from timber harvest. Why? The payments were viewed as compensation for lower tax revenues in the affected counties due to the tax-exempt status of national forest lands. The stipulation was that the monies received by counties under this receipt-sharing program were to be used to fund qualified roads and school programs. Over the last 30 years, since the Northwest Forest Plan’s enactment, timber harvest in National Forests fell by 80%. Although Congress responded in 2000 by creating the Secure Rural Schools program to offset the severe reduction in funding by offering counties with Forest Service lands payments in lieu of the 25% receipt-sharing… the program is not sustainable. Secure Rural Schools funds ran out.
H.R. 1526 aims to solve employment and school-funding challenges by improving economic stability in counties with National Forest System lands . The provisions of the bill provide mechanisms to get timber harvests on federal lands up and running at levels not seen in decades. This bill:
- Sets statutory requirements for Forest Service to harvest no less than 50% of yearly sustainable timber yield; restore 1908 receipt-sharing guidelines;
- Designates sections of National Forest as “forest reserve revenue areas” for the logging and revenue generation projects that are largely exempt from judicial review;
- Calls for temporary extension of Secure Rural Schools program during transition period back to receipt-sharing within qualifying counties;
- Transfers one million acres of federally-owned lands from Oregon & California Railroad lands (O&C)* into an Oregon state-owned trust for sole purpose of maximizing timber revenues;
- Provides transfer of another two millions acres nationwide into “Community Forest Demonstration Areas;” to be managed by an Advisory Committee appointed by the Governor of the state. (bulleted facts based on information resource 13 below)
*”The O&C lands spread out across rural parts of Western Oregon in a checkerboard — from Columbia County to the north to the Oregon-California border to the south. The lands exist as they are because in 1866, Congress gave the Oregon and California Railroad every other mile-square section of land, so the railroad could sell the land to settlers to finance construction of the rail line. Later, the lands reverted to the government.(16) The O & C lands encompass more than two-million acres of forested land.
Oregon and California Land Grant Act of 2013 (S.1786)
Whoa… that finally brings me back full circle… to Senator Ron Wyden’s Senate bill. This plan was unveiled in November at the Oregon State Capital with Governor Kitzhaber showing support. On December 9, 2013, the Oregon and California Land Grant Act (S.1786) was referred to a congressional committee for consideration.
The bill is a middle-ground proposal focused on resolving a decades long debate over how to manage the O & C lands. Wyden worked to balance conservation and timber harvest interests using current scientific-based standards rather than defaulting to 1908 economic-based standards.
As I read the Section-by-Section summary (3), these are some of the key points I noticed in the O&C Act of 2013:
- Describes how O&C Lands are to be allocated and managed- mandates two divisions of the land; forestry emphasis areas and conservation emphasis areas;
- Dictates how revenue from timber harvest are to be distributed;
- Places designated lands into a trust held by United States for the benefit of three confederated tribes (Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Suislaw Indians);
- Expands the existing Wild Rogue Wilderness and adds tributaries of the Rogue River to the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act;
- Respects established federal environment, ecology, and conservation policy protections and guidelines: National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Healthy Forest Restoration Act of 2003, Endangered Species Act (ESA);
- There is a section that of concern to me as I read the summary- the survey and manage requirements for conducting Environmental Impact Studies as they were written in the Northwest Forest Plan are deemed- “do not apply to forestry emphasis areas;”
- Creates: recreation areas, drinking water special management units, salmon/botanical area special management unit, Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail protection corridor, primitive backcountry special management area, special environmental zones, provisions for decommissioning unneeded roads, special management/research areas, penalty system for non-compliance, processes for transition time while EISs are completed.
Finding answers for the complex debates over forest resource management is no easy undertaking. My hours of “jumping down the rabbit hole” to find and analyze sources for building my Oregon Forest Management personal learning environment has been enlightening. I’m looking forward to part five of five… form an opinion.
- What’s Best for Oregon Trees?
- Step A: Understanding Northwest Forest Dynamics
- Step B: Understanding Northwest Forest Plan (1994)
- Step C: Understanding Oregon and California Land Grant Act of 2013
- Step D: Forming an Opinion
- What’s Best for Oregon Trees? An Rx
Ideas in this post were synthesized through reflective reading of information on websites listed in the following Webliography-
- The Northwest Forest Plan: Origins, Components, Implementation Experience, and Suggestions for Change; http://courses.washington.edu/esrm315/pdfs/NWFP.pdf
- Ron Wyden unveils O&C management bill, saying it will create jobs while protecting forest ecology; http://www.oregonlive.com/mapes/index.ssf/2013/11/ron_wyden_unveils_oc_managemen.html
- SECTION-BY-SECTION O&C ACT OF 2013; http://media.oregonlive.com/mapes/other/Final%20OC%20Section-by-Section.pdf
- Ron Wyden releases O&C forest management to praise, criticism and ‘we’ll see; http://www.oregonlive.com/mapes/index.ssf/2013/11/ron_wyden_releases_oc_forest_m.html
- Oregon Wild Briefing Paper: Why Senator Wyden’s O&C Land Grant Act of 2013 is a bad deal for the environment; http://www.oregonlive.com/mapes/index.ssf/2013/11/ron_wyden_unveils_oc_managemen.html
- Senator Wyden’s O&C Land Grant Act of 2013 (S. 1784): In a nutshell; http://www.oregonwild.org/oregon_forests/old_growth_protection/westside-forests/Western%20Oregon%20BLM%20Backyard%20Forests/Wyden%20O-C%20legislation%20outline_SHORT%20FINAL.pdf
- Wyden’s O&C Forest Bill Attempts To Balance Logging And Conservation; http://earthfix.opb.org/land/article/how-wydens-oc-bill-walks-the-line-between-logging-/
- H.R.1526 – Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act; http://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th/house-bill/1526/committees
- Statement of Administration Policy; http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/legislative/sap/113/saphr1526r_20130918.pdf
- White House Threatens to Veto House Bill 1526; http://earthfix.opb.org/land/article/white-house-threatens-to-veto-forest-bill/
- American Forests; H.R. 1526: Limiting Judicial Review of Forest Management | American Forests.
- League of Conservation Voters; http://www.lcv.org/issues/HR1526.pdf
- H.R. 1526: Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act: overview and summary; https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/hr1526
- American Logger’s Council; http://naturalresources.house.gov/uploadedfiles/americanloggerscouncilltrhr1526.pdf
- House Natural Resources Committee Fast Facts on H.R. 1526; Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act (H.R. 1526) – House Committee on Natural Resources.
- Logging Laws on the Line; http://www.oregonwild.org/about/press-room/press-clips/logging-laws-on-the-line