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O&C Land Use vs Land Abuse

Clearcuts, thinning, retention, regeneration … forestry jargon aplenty was flying on July 29 when nearly 30 people gathered to tour the Long Tom forest 20 miles west of Eugene, and to see some of these forest management terms actually applied within the same landscape.

The forest is primarily managed by the BLM and private industry. Much like a checkerboard, square plots of land alternate between BLM and industry, with the former still covered by treetops and the latter looking instead a bit like a scorched earth war-zone. Below the forestland is the Long Tom River, a tributary of the Willamette River.

“Industrial logging out here is completely unsustainable,” said Roy Keene, who describes himself as a public interest forester who has studied forest landscapes for decades. As leader of the tour, he mentioned among many problems with industry “management” (he said he hesitated to call it forestry since there were hardly any trees left) is a total disregard of the soil by spraying pesticides and contributing to erosion of the hillsides. 

The event grew out of a discussion series called Conversations on the Forest put on by Keene, Lane County Commissioner Rob Handy and Kevin Matthews of Friends of Eugene, held at Cozmic every month at the beginning of this year. Handy was also on hand as a host during the tour.

“Change comes from the bottom up,” Handy said. “I just really appreciate everyone being here.”

During the tour there was talk of revising Oregon’s Forest Practices Act, amending the O&C Lands Act of 1937 and disapproval of Rep. Peter DeFazio’s proposed O&C trust plan. 

At later stops on the tour, Keene pointed out good and bad examples of thinning on public land and cautioned against brushing off the thinning technique as benign. There was also anger expressed over the use of BLM roads by private logging operations, an expensive part of the equation that taxpayers often unknowingly pay for, tour leaders said. 

The Conversations on the Forest group plans to start meeting again this fall at Cozmic to continue discussing the need for changes in forest management. For more information go to http://wkly.ws/196