What's happening in the forest sector?

Water, wildlife and eDNA

When The Wildlife Society advertised a workshop in Southern California to learn more about eDNA, I didn’t immediately jump at the chance. I’m a wildlife biologist native to Oregon, and I didn’t think traveling to SoCal in late July sounded like a very good idea. But I clicked on the link anyway. I’m so glad I did!

eDNA (environmental DNA) is a relatively new technique scientists are using to look for wildlife in ecosystems where they’re hard to locate. eDNA comes from biological material that species have shed. You can use scat to learn about an individual species, or shed material to learn which species are using a habitat. I’ve been conducting surveys for many species of wildlife, using a variety of protocols, for more than 20 years, but I’ve never used eDNA to do it. I learned that eDNA is best used when there isn’t any other way to find the species. For example, there might be such low numbers in an area that traditional surveys wouldn’t detect the species – but by looking for evidence of their DNA, you can find them.

Two people by a body of water. 

To learn how to collect eDNA, we had the amazing opportunity to head out to The Nature Conservancy’s Jack and Laura Dangermond Preserve. It’s a place dedicated to preservation, located adjacent to Vandenberg Air Force Base outside Lompoc, Calif. (Yeah, I had to look it up!)

It seems pretty simple to collect eDNA; you use a mix of hoses, filters, pumps and poles – it didn’t look a lot different from my backpacking water filter. However, you must be super-careful not to contaminate the sample. When I tried it, I felt like I needed at least seven hands to do everything right. But it got easier. And when you’re done, you’re left with a tiny test-tube-looking filter that you keep on ice and send to the lab. They “run it” and tell you if evidence of the species you’re looking for was found in the sample. Easy.

But I’m a practical person, and I work with foresters and land managers. Is this useful for us? Do we want to wait for samples to be run through the lab? And what about “false positives”? In regard to the latter, I learned that there really aren’t false positives, and it’s so incredibly unlikely that something or someone is going to “dump” eDNA into your research area that no one worries about that. OK, whew! So how can I use it?

One immediately useful way eDNA is and can be used is to determine the upper extent of fish use in forest streams. This seems like a very good idea to me, as we’re still lugging in backpack-style fish “shockers” and literally shocking the fish to see if they’re present. It’s an accepted method and doesn’t hurt the fish. But with new technology, we may have other methods to learn if fish are using the stream, with less impact on them.

More research is needed to determine the efficacy of eDNA, and we need to work with regulators so everyone is comfortable with the data. But as new technology becomes available, this may be another accepted method to learn about the species we manage. If you want to learn more about wildlife species in Oregon, check out the Wildlife in Managed Forest publication series. (https://www.oregonforests.org/publications)

Fran Cafferata Coe

Cafferata Consulting

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 barber@ofri.org.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 .. 53 Next   〉