Republished from Issue 4 Volume 4
Oregon is known as a green state; we like trees an almost indecent amount, and there seems to be vegan stores on every corner. However, this is far from coincidental; So what keeps Oregon so green- even despite its massive logging industry?
Simply put, our comprehensive refor- estation laws. These laws are what help protect our forests, and leave Oregon green not only for us, for many gen- erations to come. Unlike other states with large timber industries, these laws make up, not a small portion, but in fact are the cornerstone of Oregon’s forest practices. Moreover, these laws remain steadfast and non-negotiable, regardless of potential economic ben- efits of a more lenient policy.
Oregon forestry law orbits the idea of replant: If you cut down a tree in Or- egon, you should be prepared to plant another one, and quickly. In fact, in some areas, owners may even be re- quired to plant double the amount of trees originally harvested.
This policy ensures future Oregonians will enjoy the same forest resources we do today. That includes wood products, healthy watersheds, recre- ational opportunities, and thriving fish and wildlife habitats. It maintains the position of timber as a renewable resource, which is an invaluable asset to not only the timber industry but to the environment. By law, a land- owner is required to begin reforesting 12 months are the harvesting began or after the harvest operation is com- plete, whichever comes first. After that, landowners have 12 months to
start reforestation, 24 months to complete planting, and 6 years to restore the foresta- tion adequately. If you’re looking for who’s responsible for this planting, look no fur- ther than our own backyard. Many of the contractors which are employed to replant these trees come from the Salem area. This reforestation is required to meet a certain density as well. Typically, 100-200 seedlings per acre will be planted, and the number varies based upon how produc- tive the site was. This is to essentially plant as much as was removed. The landowner is expected to keep control of the vegetation on their land but also to notify Oregon De- partment of Forestry should any chemicals like herbicides be used in this process. The reforestation process is complex and in depth, with intent to keep the timber in- dustry in line and to maintain the environ- ment in spite of frequent logging.
While this process has been largely ben- eficial and is beneficial in nature, it is im- portant to note that while they are adher- ing to environmentally-friendly laws, the timber industry is still an industry. This
means several things are inherently true: the landowner – typically the logging com- pany – will act within its best interests, and it will obey the law. The timber companies make no attempt to disobey these refores- tation laws, but it is important to not that the way they obey them is not always what is best for the environment. In most cases, the trees which have been harvested are replaced with the same type of tree in the same space. To understand why this is an issue, one has to look towards inherently restorative change makers such as Oregon Metro.
Because the reforestation laws apply al- most exclusively to timber companies, re- gional governments such as Oregon Metro act without any imposition. This does not given them leeway to avoid reforestation; in actuality, it is the exact opposite. Metro buys land and focus upon not reforesta- tion but restoration – a small but impor- tant distinction to make. Restoration equates to a focus upon all aspects of the environment, not just the trees. This in- volves the removal of invasive species and
the promotion of native plant popula- tions and native species such that the environnement returns to its self-suf- ficiency. They start with very young, small plants. After an abundance of preparatory work on the land, Metro plants the young seedlings and they continue to maintain the land until they are able to grow fully – constitut- ing around 3-5 years of maintenance. Unlike the requirements set for re- forestation, Metro plants around 400 trees per acre for restoration, and ac- cording to a representative we spoke to, they typically see between 75-90% success for the growth of these trees.
The garrish difference be- tween reforestation and restoration is that the timber industry is held to a basic survival standard, and Metro expands for past that to promote biodiversity and restore lands to the natural environment which can grow and sustain itself outside human in- tervention. For all extents and pur- poses, the timber industry is using these reforestation policies to restock their product consistently. The posi- tive effects of reforestation and these laws shouldn’t be discounted, how- ever. Oregon has seen much progres- sion in lawmaking and sustainable forestry. It is important to acknowl- edge all the facts before asking your- self a few questions: What motivates logging companies to replant their trees? What benefits does reforesta- tion have? And finally, although these reforestation laws are the best possi- ble legislation to be imposed upon the timber industry, is reforestation what is best for our environment?