What's happening in the forest sector?

Forest sector jobs and wages

OFRI recently published a new report and a website on Oregon’s forest economy. A full report and a summary report can be downloaded from the website: TheForestReport.org. In this blog, I will summarize some of the information on forest sector jobs and wages from the report. 


Diverse jobs

Oregon’s forest sector offers a wide array of employment, including work in forest management, logging, sawmilling, cabinetmaking, engineering, hydrology, business management and academic research. The largest group of Oregon’s forest sector workers have positions related to making primary forest products. This includes pulp and paper manufacturing, sawmills and wood preservation, as well as veneer, plywood and engineered wood production. Forestry support, which includes positions in nurseries, machinery manufacturing, firefighting and logging, compromises the next largest labor component. The following table shows the breakdown of forest sector jobs by subsector in 2016.

Bar graph

Rural and urban jobs

Overall, forest sector jobs represent about 3 percent of the total jobs in Oregon. However, these jobs are relatively more important in rural areas. The following list shows the top 10 counties by percent of forestry jobs.



Total Forest Sector Jobs 2016

Percent of County Jobs in the Forest Sector

Grant County



Douglas County



Lake County



Jefferson County



Crook County



Klamath County



Union County



Coos County



Tillamook County



Curry County




Urban areas are not without forest sector jobs. In fact, five of the eight highest counties in number of forest sector jobs are Oregon’s five urban counties. The following list shows the top 10 counties by number of forestry jobs.



Total Forest Sector Jobs 2016

Percent of County Jobs in the Forest Sector

Lane County



Douglas County



Jackson County



Multnomah County



Marion County



Washington County



Linn County



Clackamas County



Klamath County



Coos County




It is interesting to note that only Douglas, Klamath and Coos Counties show up on both lists.

Higher-than-average wages


The average annual wage for forest sector jobs in 2017 was $54,200, roughly 6 percent higher than the average annual wage of $51,100 for all Oregon employment, according to the Oregon Employment Department.

This difference is much higher in rural areas. The following graphic shows the forest sector average annual wage, the overall average annual wage and the percent difference for the state as a whole and for the 14 counties with the largest difference.

bar graph

Total annual wages are increasing

The great recession of 2009-10 caused a large loss of jobs in the forest sector. This is reflected in the total annual wages for Oregon’s wood products manufacturing sector which have steadily increased since the recession low point of 2010. As of 2016, those annual wages totaled about $1.4 billion. After a strong recovery in 2012-13, employment has held steady, but wages have increased as the economy has recovered.


To find out more about Oregon’s forest sector economy, visit TheForestReport.org.

Mike Cloughesy

Director of Forestry


Hearing unique perspectives from coastal Oregonians

In late August, I spent two days in Florence at the 8th Annual Oregon Coastal Caucus Economic Summit (OCCES). It was my second year attending the event. The summit provides a great opportunity to hear the unique perspectives, challenges and opportunities of Oregon’s coastal communities and residents.

I had a bit of a drive back and forth from Florence, which gave me plenty of time to think about coastal Oregon, and also an opportunity to see some of the rural communities along the way that are deeply connected to the coast. I wasn’t too far outside Eugene when I started to pass through rural communities. It was clear that many of these communities are dependent on natural resources, including agriculture, fishing and forestry.

Florence itself was a wonderful and welcoming community for the 600 attendees at the OCCES. Since it was my first visit, I woke up early and walked along the historic Old Town. I saw some gorgeous scenery, and realized what a vibrant area this is for the local economy.

The summit covered a wide range of topics, including housing, tsunami preparation, transportation, broadband access, workforce development, education and water infrastructure. One theme that was woven through every topic was the unique challenges and opportunities of our coastal communities. 

Coastal Oregon is unique in many ways, including a large number of small communities, a high number of senior citizens, and dependence on tourism and natural resources. One thing coastal Oregonians have in common with other parts of the state is their desire to build healthy, sustainable communities where they can live and work while providing the best opportunities for their families.

There are many good examples of opportunities that will benefit our neighbors on the coast, including the ability to expand broadband infrastructure, expand access to pathways to higher education, and find new ways such as telehealth to provide healthcare to these communities.

After listening for two days and meeting many coastal residents, the one thing I came away with was that it’s crucial that we all listen and hear multiple perspectives. Oregon’s coast, its communities and residents are part of the fabric of our state. By engaging with them and learning more, the state will be a better place.

Executive Director

Erin Isselmann

Forester Friday: Whitney Schimke

Forester Friday features an Oregon forester with an interesting or unique contribution to the forestry field. This series is meant to highlight and recognize these stories.

For Whitney Schimke, being in the outdoors and keeping Oregon’s forests healthy are two of her favorite parts of being a forester.

Whitney is a forester for a small family-owned timber company, Silver Butte Timber Company, which is based out of Riddle, Ore. Whitney manages 45,000 acres of timberland in Coos, Douglas and Jackson counties. Silver Butte is the timber company associated with C&D Lumber.

Whitney has many responsibilities. “Working for a small company, you get to do it all! I get to participate in all aspects of timberland management, from start to finish. I design roads and administer road construction, I participate in inventory, design harvest units and prescriptions, administer logging contracts, and I am in charge of all aspects of reforestation: from seed collection to planting, herbicide application, to thinning!”

Whitney in the forest with her dog.

Whitney has been in this position for just under five years. In addition to her experience, education played an important role in her becoming a forester. She studied forestry at Humboldt State University.

“Prior to moving to Oregon for this position, I was a reforestation forester for Roseburg Forest Products and an inventory forester for SPI in northern California. When I was in college, a mentor told me ‘To become a great forester, everyone needs to spend time cruising and in regeneration,’ and boy, was he right!”

Whitney holding a tree seedling.

For this profile, Whitney answered a series of questions through email about her forestry story. Here are some of her responses:

What is your favorite part about your job? My favorite part of the job changes with each season! In the spring, I love the satisfaction of a planting program coming to fruition; all these seedlings you have had such big hopes for are finally in the ground, and then you get the excitement of preparing a perfect herbicide prescription tailored to each unit. In the summer, I love to administer harvest and road building operations. Interacting with loggers and learning from the contractors on the ground is such a great experience. Fall brings fun challenges, finishing jobs before the rain comes, and site prep spraying transitions into PCT (pre-commercial thinning) season, which is instant satisfaction. And of course, winter means burning, and coming home smelling like smoke is a treat for anyone.

What drove you or why did you decide to work in forestry? I come from a family of foresters! I’m actually a third-generation forester, so naturally, I swore I would never become a forester. I originally went to school with dreams of becoming a landscape architect, but karma won and here I am. My mom was a forester, my dad a geologist; and they tell me that I could identify trees before I could tie my shoes. I really do believe that foresters have “pitch in their veins,” and that enthusiasm for intentional, thoughtful management of forests is important.

What is something you want people to know about your job, and or the impact of your job? I think the most important thing I try to tell people about forestry is that “foresters are the original environmentalists.” I care deeply about the land I manage and make very intentional decisions that I know make long-term impacts. Foresters are thoughtful and consider all resources in the forest.

What is your favorite outdoor activity in Oregon? Does drinking wine count? Honestly, I love to spend time outside. I spend many weekends backpacking with friends, floating the rivers, kayaking, snowshoeing and hunting. My favorite places to hunt are on the lands I also manage, that full circle-of- life awareness is something pretty special.

Whitney is just one of many Oregon foresters who enjoy the outdoors and the way their jobs allow them to help forests in Oregon remain healthy.

If you know an Oregon forester with an interesting or unique story we should share, email OFRI Social Media Intern Autumn Barber at [email protected].

Forester Friday: Katie Nichols

Forester Friday features an Oregon forester with an interesting or unique contribution to the forestry field. This series is meant to highlight and recognize these stories.

The field of forestry offers a variety of career options and opportunities, and a multitude of ways to help forests. For Katie Nichols, working in forestry allows her to meet and work with a variety of people who make the day-to-day tasks that much more enjoyable.

Katie is a forest engineering operations assistant and sustainability coordinator for Lone Rock Timber Management in Roseburg, Ore. She’s been with Lone Rock since summer 2015.

Katie’s daily responsibilities include property line surveying and mapping, road layout and fish pipe design, and managing BLM road use and right-of-ways. In addition, she also manages Lone Rock’s Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) program and road-winterization operations. Lone Rock has been SFI-certified since 2015, and Katie has managed the program since 2018.

In addition to experience, education has played an important role in Katie’s journey in forestry. She graduated from Oregon State University with a bachelor’s degree in forest engineering.

Katie leaning up against a big tree.

For this profile, she answered a series of questions about her forestry story via email. Here are some of her responses (some edited for clarity/brevity).

What is your favorite part of your job? The variety and the people. I get to do something different every day, from road appraisals to running a total station for a survey. I also get to work with a lot of great people who have a variety of skills and backgrounds that make the day-to-day work even more enjoyable.

What drove your decision to work in forestry? After high school I started college studying social work, but after about a year I decided I wanted to pursue a career in engineering – and while looking at the engineering options at Oregon State, I came across forest engineering. I grew up doing outdoor activities and working with my hands, so I thought I would give forest engineering a go. And after a few intro classes, I knew it was what I wanted to do.

What is something you want people to know about your job, or the impact of your job? A major part of my job is managing Lone Rock’s SFI program. SFI is a third-party certification that verifies our operations are being managed sustainability. This means we’re considering wildlife, water and soil quality, cultural and visual resources, and the needs of the future while still producing enough timber to meet the needs of today. This is an important impact of my job, because it’s helping ensure that all future generations have the same options for forestry and outdoor recreation that I’ve had the privilege of enjoying.

What is your favorite outdoor activity in Oregon? My favorite outdoor activity outside what I do for work is spending time down at the river with my friends. In Douglas County we’re blessed to be able to enjoy the beauty of the Umpqua River, and during the summer I take advantage of that every chance I get!

Katie Nichols is just one of many Oregon foresters who enjoy the outdoors and the way their jobs allow them to help forests in Oregon remain healthy.

If you know an Oregon forester with an interesting or unique story we should share, email OFRI social media intern Autumn Barber at [email protected].



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