Timber Regains Significance in
Letter to the Editor
Capitol Press, 12/11/05
Tam Moore's "Report: Timber regains significance in
Oregon" and the accompanying pie charts (Cap press, 12/2/05) repeat several common misunderstandings
about Oregon forests and timber production:
1. The pie charts fail to take account of the decay of
dead wood. Timber interests often assert that because timber growth exceeds the amount logged and burned
we are heading for larger, more intense forest fires. However, the natural decay of wood into soil is ongoing. Wood decay is what keeps our forests healthy and growing.
2. Timber production is limited by
economics. For example, it is currently cheaper to get a log to the port of Sacramento from New Zealand
than from the Sierra Mountains. That's because the costs of production - and especially transportation
costs - are so much higher for the Sierra log. The same is true in Oregon. Therefore, projecting a
resurgent Oregon Timber Industry based on the California market in unrealistic.
3. Much of Oregon's
forest land is steep, unstable and landslide prone. It can not be intensively logged without imposing
high costs on other industries and damage to the public interest. The best and highest use of these
unstable headwaters is watershed protection: drinking water, flood control, recreation and fisheries.
It is unfortunate that foresters continue to perpetuate myths and misinformation about forests and timber
production. I believe this stems from their university training which is much too narrow and myopic.
Forestry degree programs need to require both economic and ecological training in addition to silviculture
and timber production. Well balanced foresters will lead to well balanced forest management - something
Oregon badly needs.
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