What's happening in the forest sector?

The new Oregon Forest Facts 2021-22 Edition is here

The Oregon Forest Resources Institute recently released a newly updated edition of Oregon Forest Facts. The pocket-sized booklet packed full of the latest data and statistics on Oregon’s forests and forest-based economy is one of our most popular publications. We began producing this biennial favorite in 2009, and this is our seventh edition. We think it keeps getting better and better.

There are two easy ways for you to catch up on the latest Oregon forest statistics, including information on forest ownership, timber harvest levels, forest-based employment, wildfire trends and much more. You can review or order the new Oregon Forest Facts 2021-22 Edition, or check out the newly updated OregonForestsFacts.org. Both have the most up-to-date data about Oregon’s forests.

Here are some examples of the “forest facts” found in the Oregon Forest Facts 2021-22 Edition and on OregonForestFacts.org:


·         Timber harvest levels in Oregon have remained relatively stable over the past 20 years. Currently, Oregon annual timber harvest averages around 3.8 billion board feet.


·         About one-third of Oregon’s forests are privately managed, and these lands produce three-quarters of the state’s timber harvest. 


·         Oregon is the number-one state in the country for softwood lumber production, plywood production and the total number of engineered wood product manufacturing facilities.  


·         Oregon’s forests support more than 61,000 jobs, from scientists to nursery managers to mill workers. That’s 3% of Oregon’s total workforce. That number climbs to 10% in rural Oregon counties.


·         Wages for forest-related jobs in rural Oregon counties are higher than the average county wages.


·         The 2020 fire season in Oregon burned more than 1.3 million acres, including the roughly 1 million acres that burned during last year’s Labor Day fires. That’s a 234% increase above the average fire season over the last 10 years.


To learn more about Oregon’s forests, download or order a copy of the new Oregon Forest Facts 2021-22 Edition or visit OregonForestsFacts.org.

For the forest,

Mike Cloughesy

Director of Forestry

New year, new Oregon forest protection laws

Sustainability is at the core of Oregon’s laws regarding forest practices and land use planning. The forest practices laws, which are enforced by the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF), require state and private forest landowners to protect soil, air, water and wildlife habitat for future generations. Since the Oregon Forest Practices Act became law in 1971, the Oregon Board of Forestry has regularly updated its rules to keep them current and responsive to evolving scientific knowledge and public concerns. 

Occasionally, the Oregon Legislature has amended the Forest Practices Act to include specific requirements for forest operations. This was the case when the Legislature passed Senate Bill 1602 in July 2020. The new law changed certain parts of the Forest Practices Act, and two of those changes went into effect at the beginning of this year. The first change increases the size of buffers around homes, schools, water intakes and some streams that helicopters applying herbicides must avoid. The second expands a requirement that restricts logging near streams that provide habitat for certain fish species. You can read the full text of Senate Bill 1602 here

Helicopter herbicide spray buffers

Starting Jan. 1, 2021, the Forest Practices Act mandates that helicopters spraying herbicides on forestland must leave wider buffers around school properties, dwellings and streams. A buffer is an area adjacent to a stream, school, inhabited dwelling or water intake that contains a combination of trees, shrubs, and/or other perennial plants. Trees within certain buffer zones cannot be harvested. 

Under the new rules, the size of the required buffers are: 
• At least 75 feet from streams with fish or domestic use 
• 50 feet from other streams with surface water present 
• 300 feet from a school or inhabited dwelling
• 300 feet from a qualifying water intake

Stream buffer rules expanded 

A relatively new Forest Practices Act rule requiring wider buffers of trees be left unharvested around salmon, steelhead and bull trout streams now includes the Siskiyou region in southern Oregon. Previously this rule, which requires tree buffers of varying depth depending on the size of the stream inhabited by salmon, steelhead or bull trout, applied to lands west of the Cascades with the exception of the Siskiyou region.
The Board of Forestry created the salmon, steelhead and bull trout (SSBT) streams rules in 2017 to prevent an increase in stream temperature, which can negatively impact salmon, steelhead and bull trout. Not enough science was known at that time about the Siskiyou region to apply these wider buffers, also known as a Riparian Management Area (RMA). 

This graphic from the OFRI publication Oregon’s Forest Protection Laws: An Illustrated Manual shows the newly revised requirement to leave a wider buffer of trees on either side of a medium-size SSBT stream in the Siskiyou region. 

Stream buffer illustration

There are several required zones in the SSBT stream buffer, where varying degrees of timber harvest are allowed. For example, in a medium-size stream designated as an SSBT, all the trees in a “no-harvest zone,” located 0 to 20 feet from the stream’s high-water level, must be left. In the “inner zone,” located 20 to 50 feet from the high-water level, and the “outer zone,” located 50 to 80 feet from the high-water level, some trees can be harvested. Compared to a non-SSBT fish stream, the RMA is 10 feet wider, and the trees that are left unharvested need to be split between the inner and outer zone. 

More information about SSBT rules can be found in Oregon’s Forest Protection Laws: An Illustrated Manual. ODF also offers informational videos about these laws. Watch the videos here.  

Additional rule changes

Additional changes to the Forest Practices Act outlined in Senate Bill 1602 will become effective between July 2021 and June 2022. This includes a mandate that ODF develop an e-notification system for helicopter herbicide application to improve communication among landowners, helicopter operators, neighbors and water users. Before they spray, helicopter herbicide applicators must notify water users and neighbors who have signed up to receive notices through this system and are within one mile of the proposed work. The law provides funds for developing this new system. It will likely take about a year to complete.

Learn more about Oregon’s forest protection laws

With more than 250 enforceable rules that apply to state and private forestland, there’s a lot to take in when it comes to the Oregon Forest Practices Act. That’s why OFRI created Oregon’s Forest Protection Laws: An Illustrated Manual, currently in its third edition, as a reference for Oregon’s forest landowners to following these important state rules and best management practices aimed at protecting natural resources. You can order the manual or download it for free from the publications section of our website, OregonForests.org.

Oregon forest landowners can find additional information and resources on the state’s forest protection laws on the Partnership for Forestry Education website, KnowYourForest.org. ODF also has information on each section of the Forest Practices Act and additional videos on their website

ODF stewardship foresters, who provide technical assistance and enforcement to ensure the state’s forest protection laws are followed, are another great resource; they’re available to contact in every corner of Oregon.
From the woods,

Julie Woodward
Senior Manager, Forestry Education



New K-12 publication comes in two formats

Our newest K-12 publication is a first for the Oregon Forest Resources Institute (OFRI). We recently developed a set of forestry and natural resources lessons that come in both digital and print formats. The reason? To give students, teachers and parents maximum flexibility with how, when and where the lessons are used.

The Oregon Garden Natural Resources Education Program Lessons are designed to flex with a world where it’s impossible to predict where students will be learning, whether it’s at home, at school or a combination of the two. The lessons focus on four topics – wildlife habitats, adaptations, food webs and healthy forests – that are explored in the Oregon Garden Natural Resources Education Program. The OFRI-led field program for fourth- through sixth-grade students is normally held at the Rediscovery Forest inside The Oregon Garden in Silverton, but due to schools moving to distance learning and other safety precautions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the on-site program is not currently accepting school groups.

If students are in school, teachers can order free printed copies of the lessons from OFRI that can be completed in class or assigned as homework. If students are distance learning, teachers can send them a link to the digital version to complete online.  

Both versions aim to enhance students’ understanding and appreciation of Oregon’s forests. Students are invited to explore each lesson topic through informational videos and other educational content developed by OFRI, and by making direct observations outdoors in their backyard, schoolyard or neighborhood park.

While the lessons were developed so students who haven’t been able to participate in the Oregon Garden Natural Resources Education Program because of COVID can learn similar concepts in another setting, the digital and print formats allow them to be used in any school or home in the state. And when the pandemic is over and students are back in school full-time, the lessons can be used to support forestry education programs either before or after a field trip.  

You can find the Oregon Garden Natural Resources Education Program Lessons on our website for K-12 forest education, LearnForests.org

We wish you good health, good spirits and a good time learning about Oregon’s forests.

Norie Dimeo-Ediger
Director of K-12 Education Programs 

Giving thanks for our forests

If there’s any silver lining to 2020, it has been a resurgence of appreciation for the simple things in life. Time with family and health top the list. Some less likely candidates such as baking, sewing and taking a walk or run outside have made a comeback.

In Oregon, our forests give us many reasons to be thankful. They provide clean drinking water, remove carbon from the air, and provide lumber for wood products such as homes and furniture. They also provide family-wage jobs to 61,000 Oregonians. These jobs provide economic stability to families and communities across the state.  

The devastating Labor Day fires of 2020 resulted in the deaths of nine people, burned over 1 million acres of forestland and destroyed more than 4,000 homes. For those impacted by these fires, this may be a difficult Thanksgiving. However, many stories of hope have emerged that share the universal truth that we are most thankful for the simple things in life.

A family from Phoenix lost their home and business, but with help from the local community they’re getting back on their feet. They left their home so quickly that there was no time to gather more than a night’s worth of clothes. When they returned to see what they could recover, it was the unexpected discovery of a family wristwatch, which had been passed down through several generations, that was most meaningful.

As the wildfires still raged across the state, three Oregonians decided to deliver some hope to children who were evacuated due to the Holiday Farm fire. Dressed as Superman, Batman and Belle, they provided a welcome escape and comfort to children who enjoyed their familiar faces and stories.

So in addition to being thankful for the clean air, water, jobs and wood that come from Oregon’s forests, this month I’m thankful for the hope that’s emerging from the ashes of the Labor Day fires. Please join me in keeping those impacted by the fires in mind as we gather to be thankful for all that we have.

For the forest,
Erin Isselmann
Executive Director

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