There are more than 70,000 forestland owners in Oregon. These landowners all have unique goals for their forestland and strategies to reach those goals.
Through our public surveys, we’ve learned that many Oregonians don’t understand how many different forest landowners there are across the state, or the variety of management styles they use. In other words, they know there are forests managed for timber production in Oregon, and they know there are also forest reserves that protect sensitive wildlife habitat or valued recreation sites. But they may not be aware that most Oregon forest landowners fall somewhere in between these two ends of the spectrum, or that landowners often manage their forests for multiple uses such as timber, wildlife habitat, recreation and carbon storage.
For the past year, I’ve had the privilege to have traveled the state, listening to forestland owners tell their management stories as part of a new OFRI video series called Different Forests. Different Goals. The educational video series is intended to introduce Oregonians to a wide variety of forestland owners managing forests in all corners of the state, and detail how their management strategies vary from each other. Together, these videos show a range of seven forestland objectives being achieved in different ways, including:
When looking at these management strategies, each forestland owner profiled in the video series is distinct from one another, but also from adjacent forestland owners. In a couple cases, the landowners and their neighbors started with very similar plots, but chose different goals and management strategies, resulting in side-by-side properties that look different and provide different benefits. Together, the collection of these differences gives the larger forested landscape its variety.
So, in many ways, no two stories were alike. But what I also found is that they were all quite similar. All of the landowners we interviewed for the videos care deeply for their forests. They all acknowledged that their way wasn’t the only way. They could have chosen different goals and reached them with success, but the goals and management styles they chose were the right decisions for them. They all put in the work, and tried to make their lands better than they found them. They also relied on a community of experts, neighbors, professionals, educational materials and more to achieve their goals.
That was refreshing. Too often we hear voices supplying opinions about the “right way” to manage forestland – for carbon, for fire, for sustainable wood products – with an assumption that there is one correct “prescription,” or set of forest management activities aimed to achieve specific goals. The landowners I talked to didn’t feel that way; I didn’t hear them talk about how other landowners should be managing their forests. They were excited to tell their stories, and I greatly appreciated the invitation to tour their lands and witness their enthusiasm.
Senior Manager of Public Outreach