Development near public forests in Oregon and Washington more than doubled over a thirty-year period according to a new government study.
Researchers from the U.S Forest Service analyzed thousands of locations based on aerial photos from both states. They found the number of buildings constructed near public forests more than doubled from 1974 thru 2005.
Dave Azuma is with the Forest Service, and co-authored the report. He says the largest increase in Oregon occurred in the southern part of the state along the federal Bureau of Land Management property.
That’s where a railroad left a patchwork of private and public lands.
“If you look at land use change, it kind of slowed down in the 1990s, but we see the development of the forest land to continue to increase, which sooner or later that will obviously have a huge effect on the forest land,” Azuma says.
Azuma says development on the edge of forest lands carries ecological and economic consequences, one being wildfire management.
Oregon and Washington together have 21 million hectares of forested land, about 60 percent of which are public.