Fish-friendly Forestry


Active forest management and healthy populations of native salmon and trout are both Oregon icons. Can they co-exist? The latest research from the Watersheds Research Cooperative at OSU says they can.

Three 10-year studies known as the Hinkle Creek, Alsea Revisited and Trask River Paired watershed studies are showing that healthy fish populations, quality fish habitat and excellent water quality go hand-in-hand with modern logging techniques and current forest-practices regulations. These paired watershed studies measure multiple elements – water quantity, water quality including sedimentation and temperature, fisheries, amphibians and stream insects – for years before and after logging. They compare logged areas to similar unlogged areas in the same watershed.

The original Alsea River Watershed Study in the 1960s showed large stream temperature and sediment increases and decimation of native cutthroat trout populations after logging practices typical of that era. It also showed that leaving buffers along streams greatly moderated these impacts. The results of this study led, in part, to the modern Oregon Forest Practices Act and its stream protection rules, which include buffers of trees along fish-bearing streams and keeping disturbance of these streams to a minimum.

Results from the current studies show that stream temperature increases following logging are very small, rebound quickly and soon recover downstream to pre-logging values. Stream sedimentation, while still present, is much less than in historic studies. Cutthroat trout and coho salmon populations were not harmed by logging in any of the three studies. Whether measured as number, growth, total biomass or condition of fish, the results show that fish populations were either unchanged or had a small improvement compared to the unlogged areas.

More information on these paired watershed studies can be found at the Watersheds Research Cooperative website ( This research is also highlighted in a new OFRI report called The Oregon Way: Forests and Fish (, which shows how Oregon is protecting fish through forest protection laws, land-use planning and voluntary efforts. With careful forest management including the stream buffers curently required in the forest practices rules, forestry can indeed be fish-friendly.

For the forest,

Mike Cloughesy
Director of Forestry


9755 SW Barnes Rd., Suite 210        
Portland, OR 97225        
Phone: 971-673-2944        
Fax: 971-673-2946

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