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Private Reasons Oregon’s Public Forests Are At Risk

1. Private industry, overcutting their forests at three times the sustainable rate, constitutes two thirds of Oregon’s annual timber harvest. Oregon’s archaic Forest Practice Act doesn’t protect forests from liquidation, but it does protect industry from lawsuits over issues like poisoning and water pollution. As private industry’s standing timber volume, age, and value shrinks, it puts more pressure on mature public forests to make up the difference.

 

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2. Private (industrial) forest owners export over a third of Oregon’s timber harvest as raw logs. Exports of minimally processed wood (chips, cants, veneer) from public forests are also increasing rapidly. Oregon’s forests and jobs are being shipped to foreign nations’ burgeoning forest products industries. As unchecked log and wood exports multiply, it puts tremendous pressure on public forests to meet domestic timber “needs”.

 

3. Oregon’s private forest owners, especially those of over 5,000 acres, receive huge property and harvest tax subsidies averaging over $400,000,000 a year in Oregon. Unearned forest tax subsidies put further pressure on public forests to make up state and county revenue shortfalls.

 

Without reforming these three critical private forest issues, we continue to risk and lose Oregon’s public forests. Oregon’s leaders have historically ignored the plight of the private half of the forests, attempting to solve perceived timber shortages by increasing subsidized logging in the federal half. Those who would resist this incremental public forest takeover by private industry need the support of an informed and intelligent public for any measurable success. This handout may be reprinted for that purpose.

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