Local politics, the county, and the world, as viewed by Tammy Maygra

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We Need to be able to log.  We can log and still preserve the Environment


A Multnomah County judge has rejected a request from environmental groups to halt post-fire logging in the Santiam Canyon. Circuit court judge Jerry Hodson ruled that the Oregon Department of Forestry could move forward with plans to harvest and remove hazard trees on 3,000 acres of fire-burned Santiam State Forest. State forestry officials applauded the decision and reiterated their stance that they were following a balanced plan that prioritized keeping green trees standing while dead trees were removed for safety and to generate revenue. The balanced approach will provide much-needed revenue for the communities hit hardest by 2020’s fires, and keep the Santiam State Forest on track towards long-term recovery.

Environmental activists briefly shut down a hazard tree removal operation along Highway 126 , And  around 20 conservation groups are planning a rally at the state capitol to "demand an end to the reckless post-fire logging taking place on public lands across the states stating that state agencies allowed out-of-state contractors to be too aggressive in removing fire-burned trees along state roadways.

The fight over post-fire logging in Santiam State Forest is a state-owned forest from Mill City to Scotts Mills. The fight centered on 3,000 acres and 11 timber sales that would generate 56.2 million board of timber and help pay for restoration and reopening the forest. Of the 3,000 acres, around 1,100 acres is proposed for partial cut harvest, meaning foresters would focus on cutting dead trees and leaving alive ones intact. The other 1,900 acres is called regeneration harvest, which is essentially clear-cutting standing dead trees and then replanting new trees.

I really see no issue with the cleanup of burnt forests or the replanting of these tracts of land. Some believe the cleanup will affect the drinking water and fish. I believe the clean up and replanting will only benefit the land and fish. Planting trees will stabilize the erosion and shade the streams. The plan only proposes timber sales for 3,000 of the 16,000 acres burned and prioritizes leaving green  trees uncut while maintaining waterway buffers. The plan also maintains that the forest will be made safe for public uses.

Some environmental groups claim the removal of trees along the highways were done so to aggressive stating that trees that were still alive were taken down.

Oregon Live quoted whistleblowers, landowners and others who described a program with "little oversight, unqualified staff, constantly evolving standards for what constitutes a hazard tree, rampant drug use by workers and instances of possible fraud. ODOT said that they are investigating every  accusation. I personally question the drug use charges. How does these people know that there was a drug problem? Did they have test results on the workers? Are these folks qualified in deciding what a hazardous tree is?

While the two previous battles centered on lands managed by Oregon, a third question centers on what will become of trees on national forests burned in the fires.

 Willamette National Forest is currently working on a plan for hazard tree removal along 390 miles of road impacted by Lionshead, Beachie Creek and Holiday Farm fires east of Salem and Eugene. The decision is likely to impact thousands of acres of forest.

 Environmental groups have urged officials to take a very light touch, even keeping some roads closed rather than removing trees, while timber advocates have noted that the plan represents a small fraction of burned forest

The forest service has taken public input on the proposed tree removal and may modify their decision for next springs scheduled tree removal. But the need to remove trees and reopen roads are important and is for public safety. A similar plan is intended for the Mt Hood National Forest. Willamette National Forest is proposing two salvage timber sales, including one in the McKenzie Bridge area of 215 acres and another planned for the Detroit area.

The partial cleanup of these forests will provide jobs and money for devastated communities, why waste this timber? Why not utilize and salvage these burned trees? It all can be done safely without any adverse effects as far as I am concerned. The land can then be replanted, and in a few short years the eye sore of the fire will be covered up. Also not all of the trees will be removed and will provide mulch for the new trees.  Streams will be shaded with new growth.

After the Tillamook Burn, loggers went in and salvaged trees.  The Tillamook Burn was a catastrophic series of large forest fires in the northern Oregon Coast Range Mountains 50 miles west of Portland. It began in 1933 and struck at six-year intervals through 1951, burning a combined total of 355,000 acres (554 square miles).

Official investigation reports that have stood the test of time identified it as stemming from friction generated when a large Douglas-fir log was dragged across a downed tree. The fire started in a large area of extremely flammable logging debris at the end of a railroad spur. The steep country of the surrounding Coast Range was mostly inaccessible: today's Wilson River Highway (Oregon 6) and the Sunset Highway (US 26) did not yet exist. When the fire started, the entire area—including the wider landscape of the Coast Range—was privately owned. Logging operations had begun to work around the edges of what remained as one the largest uncut and roadless areas of the Coast Range.

The 1933 fire crept across the Coast Range until early September, when its forward spread was stopped by rain, though it continued to smolder for months. Salvage logging started up not long after—the dead trees were felled and shipped to surrounding mills— and ebbed and flowed over the years with the changing lumber market.

The 1933 fire primed the landscape for additional fires. Year after year, the standing dead trees dried out, becoming a powder keg awaiting ignition. That came in 1939, when 209,000 acres were burned, including 19,000 acres of previously unburned forest; in 1945, when two fires burned 182,000 acres, almost all of which had previously burned; and in 1951, when two fires burned a total of 32,700 acres of forest.

Between 1949 and 1972, more than 72 million seedlings were planted by hand across the former burned area, and a billion Douglas-fir seeds were dropped from helicopters. Young people from throughout northwest Oregon came to The Burn in buses and helped plant almost a million seedlings.

The killed trees- an estimated 13 billion board-feet was salvaged. And the State Forest has recovered and thrived, no streams were ruined, the fish survived, and the public enjoys the forest.

I think we need to salvage as much timber form the recent wildfires as we can. Trees that have damage where they will eventually die needs to be left, to provide homes and habitat for owls and other bird species. There should be an easy plan for the forests. There does not need to be a long drawn out court battle to decide what needs to be done. Clean up where we can, leave the unusable logs and allow them to naturally rot away, leave areas that would require disturbance of the creeks. Replant steep slopes as soon as possible and nature will do the rest.

There is nothing wrong with logging on a regular basis, and there is certainly nothing wrong in logging wildfire areas. I have a hard time with people who want to stop logging. It is a renewable resource, and we all use timber products. I will say that I think we need to save a good share of Old Growth Forests and allow that forest to sustain itself as nature deems. Logging creates jobs and a markable product.

My family were loggers. People who log love the outdoors and love the forests and that way of life, they are not the same type of people who want to work in a mill or an office and they deserve to be treated with respect  and not villainized. The people who feel that they need to criticize loggers  and besmirch them, need to stop and think what products they use everyday from forest products.

We can do both-- log and have sustainable forests, and recreation.






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