Suspicious public comments on OSU’s forest planning process | Government and politics

Foresters who oversee Oregon’s 15,000 acres of research forests are asking the public what changes they want in the first update to McDonald-Dunn’s management plan in 17 years.

Some people who hike, live near, or work in the forest have said they fear Oregon State University’s College of Forestry is prioritizing timber harvests as long as the school depends on income from felled trees to fund its operations.

They claim the school is planning forest management behind closed doors and the college is not following the plan it released in 2005.

“The search mission is long, long lost,” said Doug Pollock, an activist and forest advocate.

Oregon State has been working for years on a guidance document outlining how, when, and where the school allows research and business practices, including clearcutting trees in the forest. of more than 17 square miles that it owns and manages northwest of Corvallis.

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Commentators were able to talk about the process on August 31 after reading an article about a community listening session in a university leisure publication.

Early in the process, acting dean of forestry Anthony Davis wrote in a 2019 memo that the school would fall back on information from the 2005 plan after foresters clearcut a nearly 16-acre stand. old Douglas firs.

The dean called the clearcut, named the No Vacancy harvest, a “mistake” after harvest critics found the trees were healthier and some 200 years older than the school had claimed.

“This harvest identifies a serious gap in the college’s current forest management practices,” Davis wrote.

The school set aside 350 of McDonald-Dunn’s 11,000 acres as mature tree reserves, identifying any tree over 160 years old as significant in the 2005 plan.

That plan was “informally suspended” in 2009 with the Great Recession, according to Davis in the memo, but the 160-year age limit would be enforced forest-wide while the school drafts a new plan. Management.

Davis and others at the school have begun appointing members of a committee that will come up with the new plan.

The acting dean left in 2020 with the appointment of Tom DeLuca to his post, but the committee in June included 13 people affiliated with recreation, timber and conservation concerns.

At the August 31 meeting, some said they wanted to see the school improve trails, signage, parking, transportation, and forest visibility in an effort to position McDonald-Dunn as a tourist destination.

Pollock was among commentators who highlighted No Vacancy while calling on the school to be more transparent about the planning process. He said he was unable to comment directly to the forest plan committee.

“There was no public input,” Pollock said.

Others asked the school to manage timber harvests for a diversity of tree species and ages. Various forests are more immune to fire and disease, commentators said.

Suggestions during the listening session and two future listening sessions will be analyzed and included in a report to the plan committee, said Turner Odell, project manager at Oregon Consensus.

The Portland State University-based program facilitates policy-making processes.

Stephanie Weber, an undergraduate student at the university, wondered how quickly a forest plan that calls for mixed-use management like recreation and timber can accommodate impending climate deadlines.

She tied the school process to a presidential executive order calling on land managers to preserve 30% of space in the United States by 2030.

“There is urgency here. This plan goes until 3030, when we are supposed to reach our 30×30 goal. Cutting down old-growth forests defeats that goal, Weber said.

Odell acknowledged that global warming was not considered in the 2005 plan.

“But things have changed a lot since then,” he said.

Alex Powers (he/him) covers business, environment and health for Mid-Valley Media. Call 541-812-6116 or email [email protected]

Louisa R. Loomis