What's happening in the forest sector?

Love Oregon's forests? Stay connected with OFRI

Oregon has seen some record rainfall recently, and after a snowy and ice-filled winter, some signs of spring – or at least a dry spell – would be more than welcome.

Despite the dampness, the winter rains remind me why I love Oregon. The temperate climate and abundant rainfall combine to make this state one of the best places in the world for forests to flourish. Oregon’s forests provide us with timber for the wood products we use every day, as well as many other amenities such as clean air and water, and fish and wildlife habitat. Plus, nothing beats a walk in the woods as a way to find sanctuary from the stresses of daily life.

OFRI’s work to advance public understanding of forests, forest management and forest products all hinges on the fact that in Oregon, we grow trees. The rain – along with sustainable forest management practices and our state’s forest protection laws – makes it possible to grow them in perpetuity.

To learn more about the economic, social and environmental benefits of Oregon’s forests, check out OFRI’s wide range of educational websites, publications and videos that provide information on forest management practices, wood products and the state’s forest-based economy. You’ll find electronic versions of our publications and a wealth of other online resources related to forests and forest management on our main site, OregonForests.org, as well as on our sites for K-12 educators, LearnForests.org, and forest landowners, KnowYourForest.org. Be sure to visit our newest website, OregonForestFacts.org, for the latest data about Oregon’s forests, including forest ownership, forest-based employment and timber harvest levels.

As always, OFRI is planning many exciting and interesting projects, programs and events this year. And there are many ways to stay connected to us, see what we’re up to, and join the conversation about Oregon’s forests:

Thanks for showing an interest in OFRI. Please don’t hesitate to contact us to learn more about our programs and publications.

For the forest,

Paul Barnum

Executive Director

New website features data on Oregon's forests

The Oregon Forest Resources Institute produces many educational reports and publications. Our most popular has probably been Oregon Forest Facts, the little book that’s big on facts, charts and stats, but small enough to fit in your pocket or handbag.

While updating the 2017-18 edition of Oregon Forest Facts, we thought perhaps the information could stand by itself as a small website, for those looking to learn about and share the most current data on Oregon’s forest sector. So we made one: OregonForestFacts.org.

We’ve used the data, charts and graphs from Oregon Forest Facts to make the handy new website. It’s divided into six sections that correspond to the information in the new publication: forestland ownership, harvest and production, sustainability, watershed protection, fire, and employment.

OregonForestFacts.org has a responsive content design, which means it works just as well on your smartphone or tablet as it does on your computer browser. We’ve also included social media sharing functions on each of the charts, tables, maps and graphs so that if you see something you would like to send to a colleague, or share to your network on Facebook or Twitter, you can do it with a single click.

So check out the new site and share it with anyone who might have an interest in the latest information about Oregon’s forest sector.

Jordan Benner
Senior Public Outreach Manager 

Webinars to focus on silviculture

Timber harvest in Oregon is not just a random event, but is driven by the complexities of examining the forest and determining which trees to harvest and when they should be harvested. Making these determinations involves silviculture.

Silviculture is defined as the art and science of growing trees to meet the needs of the public and landowners. How do foresters decide which silviculture methods to use when harvesting timber?

A four-part webinar series I’m hosting next month will help answer that question. It will feature presentations and discussions on different silvicultural methods used for timber harvesting in the Pacific Northwest.

The live webinars geared to foresters, loggers and woodland owners will be held from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. on March 1, 8, 15 and 22. Panelists include foresters, silviculturists and forest engineers with private timber companies, the Oregon Department of Forestry, the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. We’ve also invited silviculture professors from Oregon State University to share their expertise. The various presenters will compare and contrast major Pacific Northwest timber harvest methods such as clearcutting, variable-retention and selection harvesting, and share their varying approaches to planning and conducting harvest operations.

The seminar series is sponsored by OFRI along with the BLM, the Forest Service, the Western Forestry and Conservation Association (WFCA) and the Emerging Technology Accelerator.

Registration is available online. I hope you’ll join us next month.

For the forest,

Mike Cloughesy

Director of Forestry


Climate change and forestry

I was proud to represent Oregon forestry on a recent City Club of Portland panel discussing Oregon Agriculture in a Changing Climate. The impact of climate change on Oregon agriculture and forestry is an important topic. Here are some of the thoughts I shared in the discussion about how climate change is likely to affect Oregon forests.

There are several shifts that are happening to our climate in the Pacific Northwest. In general, the region is having warmer summer and winter temperatures, less precipitation in some areas and more in others, and more rain and less snow in the mountains.

So what does this mean for our forests? There are four main impacts a changing climate is likely to have on our forests.

Fire seasons will be longer. Historically, fire season started in Oregon around July 1 and ran until Oct. 1. In recent years, it has started two to three weeks earlier and lasted one to two weeks longer. Fires in June have been burning like it was July. This requires more resources to fight the fires. This also presents a need to increase the fire resiliency of our forests by thinning and reducing dry brush and other fuel that helps spread wildfires. Knowing that fire and drought will be more common, many foresters and landowners are thinning out the trees in their forests so there are fewer per acre. This allows the residual trees to be more fire- and drought-resistant than in denser stands of trees. Managing fire-prone forests is summarized in OFRI’s State of Fire special report.

Marginal forestland will be difficult to reforest if the trees are lost in a fire. The Barry Point fire on the Fremont-Winema National Forest near Lakeview burned thousands of acres and killed most of the trees. Because of the changing climate, it will be hard to restore these burned areas back to forestland. That’s because parts of the Fremont-Winema and surrounding areas are located in a part of Oregon where trees tend to grow more slowly and are less likely to survive. Climate change and fire have made it trickier to reforest these areas, because changing environmental conditions have made them better suited to grassland than forestland.

In drier forests with a mix of tree species, there will be a shift toward more drought-tolerant species. In southwestern Oregon, many of the forests are a mixture of Douglas-fir, ponderosa pine and hardwoods. Many private forest landowners in this region selectively harvest trees. Currently, landowners are harvesting more Douglas-fir and favoring leaving ponderosa pine and hardwoods standing because they can handle the drought better. In the mixed-conifer forests in central and eastern Oregon, foresters also manage primarily by harvesting selectively. In the face of a changing climate, foresters are preserving more ponderosa pine than Douglas-fir, grand fir or lodgepole pine, because ponderosa pine has better fire- and drought-resilience.

Douglas-fir will continue to be the species of choice in most northwest Oregon forests. Douglas-fir is a great tree. It has incredible properties that make it the species of choice for forest products. Doug-fir also has incredible genetic variation. It can survive and thrive in northwest Oregon even with a changing climate. The western hemlock, grand fir and western redcedar that grow in the same stands as Doug-fir are not as well equipped to thrive in a changing climate. It’s a blessing that our most valuable tree is also our best at adapting to a changing climate. However, foresters are continuing to plant a mix of species as extra insurance.

Oregon forests and forest landowners are a diverse and resilient lot. Recognizing that the climate is changing and how it is likely to affect our forests is allowing Oregon foresters and landowners to adapt our forest management accordingly.

For the forest,

Mike Cloughesy

Director of Forestry


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