Federal and State Forest Management Policy: An Overview

In Oregon, forest management, protection and restoration is implemented through a complex web of federal and state policies. Many of these policies are controversial, but one of the most lively conflicts centers on how best to manage the forests on Oregon's federal lands.

John Bliss
John Bliss

“It is an axiom of forestry or any kind of land management that what happens on this side of a hill is very different at it's foundation from what happens on the other side of the hill. You've got a different aspect, a different number of hours of sunlight, a different drawing rate, a different hydrologic regime, and different plants grow there... So when policies are centralized... they are going to be a really bad fit in a lot of places.”

The following is not meant to be an exhaustive list, but rather a sketch of some of the key policy context:

  • The Northwest Forest Plan, 1994

    After the US Fish and Wildlife Service listed the northern spotted owl as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1990, lawsuits and injunctions effectively halted timber sales on federal forests in the Northwest. The controversial Northwest Forest Plan, created four years later, was an effort by federal agencies to craft a vision and a management approach to meet both conservation goals and the need for a stable timber supply.

    See a Critical Perspective on the plan »


  • The Oregon Forest Practices Act

    In 1971, Oregon passed the Forest Practices Act, the first of its kind in the nation. Among its wide-ranging framework are laws governing reforestation, wildlife protection, road construction and maintenance, chemical use and water quality on all private and state forests.


  • Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds

    Concern about the declines of salmon populations and challenges to water quality led Oregon to launch the Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds, an ambitious effort in 1997 to restore habitat and improve the health of streams and rivers. Today, much of this work is led by volunteer citizen restorationists working through local watershed councils and soil and water conservation districts.


  • Oregon's State Planning Goals and Guidelines for Forestlands

    In 1973, Oregon created landmark statewide planning goals to be met through local comprehensive planning. In essence, citizens voted to guide development to urban areas, to protect farmland "to conserve forest lands by maintaining the forest land base and to protect the state's forest economy... "

    More Background »


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