Proposed Logging Rule Change Aims To Protect Cold Water For Fish, OPB News Story

by Jess Burns

Click here to read the story on OPB.

Buffers of trees near streams are now left on forest lands in Oregon to provide cooling shade and woody debris that protect fisheries.
Buffers of trees near streams are now left on forest lands in Oregon to provide cooling shade and woody debris that protect fisheries. Oregon State University/Flickr

The Oregon Board of Forestry is proposing to increase the number of shade trees left standing beside streams after logging on private forests.  The proposed rules are designed to improve habitat for salmon, steelhead and bull trout in the western part of the state.

The idea is to get these streams into compliance with the state’s own rules about protecting cold water for these species of fish.

Environmental groups say the changes are too modest and will fall far short of that goal. And the Oregon Department of Forestry’s models support this. But the Board is considering landowner impact as well.

Neil Westfall’s family owns about 2,800 acres in Coos County. Two-hundred acres would be newly covered under the rule.

“Basically that’s land that’s out of our commercial production base forever, from here on out,” he said.

For Dan Pennington, co-owner of Myrtle Glen Farm near Coquille, increasing the stream buffers is about more than keeping the water cold. He said the spring-fed creek on his property flowed year-round until the property above him was clear cut. Now it only flows part of the year.

“These same areas that are clear cuts, these seasonal streams, eventually they just become mud flows in the winter, and there’s no slowing of the water,” Pennington says. “And so we see a lot of sediment in the water, and that consistent sediment affects the salmon.”

Public hearings on the rule changes are happening through mid-December.  A final decision on the rule should happen this spring.

Public Meetings

Nov. 15: 4–7 p.m. Florence Event Center, Florence

Nov. 16: 4–7 p.m., Clatsop Community College, Astoria

Dec. 6: 4–7 p.m., Willamalane Center, Springfield

Dec. 7: 4–7 p.m., Forest Grove Community Auditorium, Forest Grove

Dec. 8:  Noon–3 p.m., Civic Center Room, Dallas City Hall, Dallas

Dec. 8: 4–7 p.m., Department of Forestry, Tillamook Room, Salem

Dec. 15: 4–7 p.m. Ecotrust, Billy Frank Conference Room, Portland