Cutting the cut rate

FSC labeling could ease Oregon's timber battles.

Oregon’s Department of Forestry (ODF) is planning to scale back its timber cutting in 2005. When a recent legislative budget note directed the department to maximize cutting in the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests, state foresters boosted the planned cut from 202 million board feet to 252 million board feet. But the move sparked a backlash in the form of a voter’s initiative–the Tillamook 50/50–that would put half of those state forests permanently off limits to logging.

Now ODF has trimmed back its proposal to 222 million board feet. Depending on your politics, it’s either a 12 percent reduction (from the proposed 252 million) or a 10 percent increase (from the original 202 million).

But there’s a better way for Oregon to resolve the predictable donnybrook between greens and the timber industry, and it’s a voluntary, market-based solution. Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification for Oregon’s working state forests would pacify greens—because it protects old growth, endangered species, and riparian areas. And certification would please logging proponents—because it means sustainable harvesting with careful attention to worker safety and employment security.

This summer, ODF is rewriting its management policies for the 100,000-acre Elliott State Forest in southern Oregon. It’s a perfect opportunity for the state to seek FSC approval on a limited scale, as first step toward seeking certification for other forests like the Tillamook and Clatsop.

Six other states have already certified some or all of their state forests. Oregon should be next.

For more detail on FSC certification for Oregon’s forests, take a look at the comments (note, this is a pdf file) that Sightline Institute (formerly Northwest Environment Watch) recently submitted to ODF. Sightline also submitted comments to the Washington, recommending that the state pursue certification as part of its management plan for the next decade.

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