A sign of forest management
05.07.2012

The signs are everywhere.

That’s one of the catch phrases of OFRI’s educational advertising now airing in the Portland metropolitan area. See the ad called “Signs” at Learning Resources.

“Oregon has a reputation for growing some of the world’s finest timber,” the announcer begins. She mentions Oregon’s strong laws that require landowners to replant and protect natural resources. “You can see how well it’s working across Oregon,” she concludes. “The signs are everywhere.”

In addition to growing timber, Oregon has a reputation for colossal winter storms. In December 2007, the Great Coastal Gale of 2007 whipped across Oregon, Washington and British Columbia with sustained hurricane-force winds topping 130 mph. Gusts toppled trees like toothpicks, taking out power lines and blocking highways. Preceded by snow and frigid temperatures, the tropically affected gale spiked temperatures that melted the snow and resulted in severe flooding. Five people lost their lives in Oregon.

Some sources compared the storm’s intensity to that of the Columbus Day Storm, which caused widespread wind damage to the Pacific Northwest in October 1962, and the Willamette Valley Flood of 1996, which produced widespread flooding. A casualty was the 700-year-old Klootchy Creek Giant, once the largest Sitka spruce in the world.

Near that location, just west of the junction of Highways 101 and 26, the storm lashed out at private forestland, snapping managed Douglas-fir, hemlock, spruce, alder and western redcedar. Afterward, the forest looked like a gigantic game of pick-up sticks.

Since then, the landowner has salvaged the fallen timber and, as required by Oregon law, replanted. It looks a lot better now than it did in December 2007.

OFRI helped the landowner install a sign on the storm-ravaged site that tells the story. At the recent Oregon Society of American Foresters meeting on the North Coast, Seaside Mayor Don Larson said the sign really helps to educate coastal visitors about forest management.

Forest landowners should consider more such signs. Travelers to Oregon forests want to know that trees are being replanted, and they enjoy watching the trees grow.

Reach me at barnum@ofri.org.

For the forest,

Paul Barnum
Executive Director

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