New OFRI report examines impacts of timber harvest on watersheds
The Oregon Forest Resources Institute has published a special report that provides an update on three new paired watershed studies in the state that may eventually influence forest management practices in Oregon.
The last such study, now more than 35-years old, changed timber harvest in Oregon forever.
While it’s unknown whether the three new paired watershed studies underway in Oregon’s Hinkle, Trask and Alsea basins will have the same radical effect on timber management, it’s certain they will inform policymaking for years to come. The last systematic paired watershed study examining impacts of forest harvest practices in Oregon occurred on the Alsea River in the Coast Range east of Tillamook between 1959 and 1973. Its findings informed development of the 1971 Oregon Forest Practices Act, the nation’s first state forest act.
Though the Oregon act has been amended several times since its inception, systematic inquiry such as the original Alsea study has not been undertaken again until recently. Harvesting techniques have changed considerably since then and the new studies – one of which again looks at the original Alsea River study site – are gathering extensive baseline data and examining impacts when a portion of the study site is harvested and another is left as a control area.
“It is unprecedented that three such studies are underway at the same time,” said Arne Skaugset, associate professor at Oregon State University College of Forestry and director of the Watersheds Research Cooperative. “The scope, which encompasses both the Coast Range and the Cascades, combined with more detailed data as a result of modern scientific equipment, should yield scientific results that will be very useful to forest managers and policymakers.”
OFRI’s 18-page special report, Watershed Science at Work in Oregon’s Forests, is available as a hard copy or as a download from oregonforests.org.
Dave Kvamme, OFRI
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The Watershed Research Cooperative designs and conducts field-based research to study the effects of contemporary forest practices on fish and other aquatic organisms, along with water quality and quantity. The cooperative is a collaboration of a diverse group of individuals, companies, organizations and agencies, coordinated through the Oregon State University College of Forestry. OFRI is a member of the cooperative and is responsible for communications and outreach.