No to cutting Old Growth Forests

Elliott Forest - photo by Tim Giraudier

The Green Party calls for Independent Oversight, Ecological Research and an End to Clearcutting and the Logging of Old Growth Trees in the Elliott State Research Forest (ESRF)

Contact the Land Board NOW, links below

Oregon State University (OSU) is proposing to have the Elliot State Forest put under their full control under a proposal (the Elliott State Research Forest (ESRF) Proposal) which the Oregon Land Board will vote on Dec. 8th, 2020 While compromises have been made (thanks to allies on the Commission), simply put, OSU's plan is proposing to continue clearcutting on a significant portion of the ESRF (approx. 14,000 acres) and cut thousands of acres of older trees (mostly aged 100-152 years) in the "extensive" zones.  This is unacceptable for several key reasons:

Photo by Tim Giraudier

  1. It fails to view utilizing the Elliott State Forest to significantly address climate change and the need for carbon sequestration. The recent fires have made this all the more poignant.
  2. It continues habitat fragmentation, leading to further reduction of the viability of animal species such as the marbled murrelet, northern spotted owl and a variety of salmon runs.  Further, it reduces migration corridors and compromises the health of streams and forest soils within the Elliott.
  3. It focuses on the industrial model of timber extraction as the basis for "research."  Ecological research must come first:most of the Coast Range forests have already been decimated by industrial logging (clear cutting).  Most of the Coast Range is now tree farms operating on ~40-year rotations. 

Oregonians overwhelmingly support protection of the unique natural resources of the Elliott. Research should not be focused on the impacts of logging, but rather restoration and enrichment of the natural environment. With industrial forests/tree farms  predominating in the Coast Range there is no justification for further clear cutting and particularly for cutting significantly older trees in the ESRF, particularly as studies have clearly documented that old growth forest fires generate lower temperature burns and are much more resistant to fire in the first place. 

It is imperative that the Elliott State Research Forest plan have independent oversight focused on research: Oversight of the Elliott State Research Forest must be free of OSU control (which has deep industry funding and influence). A rudimentary examination of OSU’s management of their existing McDonald Dunn research forest demonstrates the pitfalls of their long history of self-governance. The cutting of old growth in 2019, repeated violations of their 2005 Research Forest Plan, destruction of northern spotted owl habitat, a 10-year lapse in both their forest inventory and adherence to their own management plan – have all eroded public trust in OSU’s ability to manage their Research Forests. The governing body of the ESRF should be chosen by our elected leaders with a primary focus on the research mission.

Public participation and building trust is key for public backing of OSU's ESRF.  The Elliott State Forest is a public resource, shared by all Oregonians. If it becomes a “Research Forest” managed by OSU, it is critical that the public be a key partner in the oversight and use of the forest. The governing body must include public representation, and a process for gathering and responding to public input.

To establish and maintain that trust, independent assessment is essential to provide accountability.  Regardless of the governance structure, there must be a periodic, independent audit of the management of the ESRF. The results of the audit must be made available to the public, and used to ensure operations are consistent with the research mission.

Comments are accepted until Nov.29th by the Department of State Land’s (DSL) Research Forest Advisory Committee.

Comments to:  https://www.oregon.gov/dsl/Land/Pages/Elliott-Forest-Proposal.aspx

From Nov 29th until Dec. 8th, comments should be sent directly to the members of the State Land Board:

Governor Kate Brown:  State of Oregon: Governor Kate Brown - Home

State Treasurer Tobias Read: oregon.treasurer@ost.state.or.us

Secretary of State Bev Clarno: oregon.sos@oregon.gov

 

Join us at the Gathering of the Allies, December 5th.  We are hosting a roundtable on the Elliott Forest with actionables.