JEWELL — Foresters from the Oregon Department of Forestry stopped by the Jewell School Board meeting Monday to illuminate its members on timber revenues from Clatsop State Forest. They used the sparsely populated but timber-rich school district as an example of how their projections work.
“We are not managing to maximize economic returns,” said Tom Savage, the district forester for Astoria, about the Northwest Oregon State Forests Management Plan, which ODF has been using to manage Clatsop State Forest since its inception in 2001.
“We’re managing to provide good stewardship, sustainability and predictable revenue to the counties.”
He said the management plan tries to strike a balance between economic, environmental and social uses to sustain indefinitely what he calls the “greatest permanent value.”
Savage and Frank Lertora, assistant district forester, said projections are trending upwards for this and the next fiscal year, at least for Jewell. It is in fiscal year 2013, which started July 1 and ends June 30, 2013.
Jewell is projected to receive $3.1 million this fiscal year and $3.59 million next fiscal year - both up from the $2.22 million Jewell received last fiscal year.
“We just have to be conservative in our planning, because … it’s not 100 percent sure,” said Jim Carlile, Jewell’s interim superintendent.
“Overall … that’s been a very favorable situation for the school district,” he said about Jewell being so dependent on timber revenues. “If we were on the state formula, the school district wouldn’t look like it does now.
“Most of the school districts are starving to death.”
According to ODF projections for this fiscal year, Warrenton-Hammond will be getting $515,101; Astoria $476,468, Seaside $89,470 and Knappa $248,376. There’s an additional $13,311 projected to go toward support for Clatsop County children in Knappa’s district going to a school in Clatskanie.
The county school fund, which is divided among the five districts based on their enrollment, is projected to receive $3.1 million this fiscal year.
Clatsop Community College is projected to get $793,482 this fiscal year.
Timber revenues shift based on whether the timber sales occur on land within a certain school district – Jewell School District, which Savage said contains more than half of state-owned forest lands, is projected to receive 70 percent of timber sales going to county school districts this fiscal year and 85 percent – or $3.59 million – next fiscal year.
Savage said he expects timber sales to stabilize more in the future with the management model ODF is using, which involves maintaining five unique types of forests: Regeneration lands composed of new seedlings and young trees; thick, single-canopy forests; understory canopies that have recently been thinned to improve growth; layered canopies; and old growth forest structures. Savage said that using its thinning techniques, ODF can now reach old growth forests in 70 years, instead of the hundreds he said nature can take if left to its own pattern.
The most recent goal for Oregon state forests is to have 30 percent old growth and layered canopy forests - the county is currently at 25 percent, said Savage, ahead of all other Oregon counties.
With the combination of forests, he said, the state will be able to put out a more consistent combination of larger, more valuable old growth and smaller, less valuable trees from the thinning process.
“We try to urge some caution,” said Savage. “We put some other factors that need to be taken into account as they review the projections.”
Lertora previously wrote in an October message to the Clatsop County Manager Scott Somers that revenue projections assume that all timber sales will be harvested, payments being made in a timely manner. He added that changing timber market conditions, other social and economic factors and the difference between the timber cruise (estimation of timber volume on a piece of property by a forester) and the actual harvest can all effect the amount of revenue.
Overall, Clatsop County’s projected timber revenue is $13.99 million for this fiscal year, up from the July projection of $11.6 million. The county receives 63.75 percent of all timber revenues from state forests, while ODF gets the rest.
This story originally appeared in Daily Astorian.