Oregon's forests on (and from) the air

A view of logging on the north coast

When a producer from CBS’s national Saturday morning show called the Oregon Wild office last month with some questions about ancient forests, logging practices, and proposed changes to environmental laws, our staff were happy to walk them through our perspective and a lot of background information. When they said they were coming to Oregon to do a story, we worked to set up a Lighthawk Flight over the northern Coast Range so they could see the big picture for themselves. I have to admit, when I agreed to go up in a plane with these guys, I didn’t quite realize that I’d end up on national television… but the chance to show the whole country some of the devastating logging practices common in Oregon and talk about the need to protect our remaining unlogged forests was too important to pass up. 

The CBS This Morning Saturday story about logging in Oregon, which aired this past Saturday, September 21, was framed around a simple question: Who should be in charge of defining the future of Oregon’s forests: the timber industry or environmentalists?

Here’s the CBS “Eye on Earth” piece: 

While we at Oregon Wild aren’t big fans of oversimplifying the complex issues of forest management, policy, and impacts, we do think that this story does a good job of showing some of the major flaws in how many of Oregon’s forests are managed, and the changes that need to be made. 

As I said in the story, we’re not talking about shutting down logging. People do need wood. What we’re talking about is ensuring that we don’t destroy the life-sustaining systems we all depend on in the process of getting that wood. Restricting aerial spraying of chemicals, better protecting waterways, and limiting clearcuts are common sense measures to do just that. The business-as-usual practices of the timber industry shown in the story will not. Oregon Wild and allies are working to make these needed changes, with the help of citizens like Nancy Webster, shown in the video. Learn more about our efforts here.

One of the other points made in the CBS story was around protections for public forests under the Northwest Forest Plan. While the timber industry rejects the plan as a failure because it doesn’t allow as much logging as they would like, the plan is an important part of ensuring that threatened and endangered wildlife species have the habitat they need to survive. And yes, it did reduce logging on public lands, but you know what? We logged a LOT of public lands for decades, and plenty still gets logged today (Check out this resource that shows this visually.) A new push by the Trump administration wants to cut the public, and groups like Oregon Wild, out of decisions made about logging on our public lands – meaning we couldn’t ensure those forests and species get the protection they need. With so few ancient forests left across the state, we need more protections for forests, not fewer.

Ancient forest in the newly protected Devil's Staircase Wilderness

In our view, this isn’t about picking sides, it’s about agreeing that we need to protect our remaining ancient forests, restore biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in forests we’ve already logged, and seeking common sense reforms to ensure the life-sustaining systems we all depend on are not destroyed by corporate interests. 

If you want to support the work Oregon Wild does to protect our last remaining ancient forests, uphold federal environmental laws that ensure public participation, and seek reform to Oregon’s weak logging laws that allow the rampant clearcutting seen in this story, please join us! Become an Evergreen Member and you’ll also receive a copy of our new book “Oregon’s Ancient Forests: A hiking guide” where you can learn more about our remaining ancient forests, and where to go to enjoy them.