Thousands of years BP
Native Americans inhabit the region we define as Oregon today.

Captain John Meares recognizes the excellence of Northwest timber for ship masts and spars.

Captains Lewis and Clark travel with their party from Missouri to the mouth of the Columbia River.

Oregons streams, rivers, and lakes teem with beaver, and commerce in beaver pelts attracts explorers, trappers, and traders to the region.

The first sawmill is built in the Pacific Northwest.

The first shipment of Oregon timber is sent to China.

Civil government is established in the Oregon Country. Major immigration to Oregon begins along the Oregon Trail.

The Oregon Territory is organized. Gold is discovered in California.

Four water-powered mills and the first steam-powered mill are in operation in Oregon. Lumber is traded with China, Hawaii, and Australia.

Gold is found along Jackson Creek in southern Oregon.

Joel Palmer becomes superintendent of Indian affairs; he later initiates the reservation system in Oregon in an effort to protect the natives.

Congress ratifies the Oregon State Constitution, and the state accepts the congressional proposal to be admitted to the Union.

Congress passes the Homestead Act, allowing 160 acres to those who would live on and work the land. Gold is discovered in eastern Oregon, in Baker and Grant counties.

The Silverton Fire burns nearly 1 million acres of timber.

Much of the Elliott State Forest burns.

There are 173 sawmills in Oregon, 138 of which use water power.

Heavy logging occurs in the Blue Mountains. Federal timber is effectively available for the taking.

The transcontinental railroad is established.

The first Northwest paper mill is built on the Columbia River at Camas.

The General Revision Act allows presidential withdrawal of forest reserves, but provides no funding to administer the reserves. Benjamin Harrison sets aside the first US forest reserve.

The first timberland reserve in Oregon is set aside Bull Run Reserve.

The Organic Act recognizes broad federal power, and allows for fire protection and limited timber sales. The Forest Reserve Act expands the national forest system.

Gifford Pinchot becomes chief of the Division of Forestry.

Until this time, the lumber industry in Oregon rates behind that in Washington and California, because timber is inaccessible to available modes of transportation. Most of the timber on the lower eastern slopes of the Coast Range, and the lower western slopes of the Cascades is already cut. Great Lakes timber is exhausted and companies are moving to the West Coast. Demand for timber increases in the eastern states.

A period of large-scale logging occurs in the Columbia River Basin. In Oregon, only Gilliam, Sherman, and Malheur counties lack significant timber reserves.

The USDA Forest Service is created to conserve forest resources and stabilize markets. The first plywood plant is built at St. Johns.

Weyerhaeuser and the Southern Pacific Railroad combined own 22.4% of standing timber in western Oregon.

The United States enters World War I.

Logging with oxen is on the wane.

The national forests contribute about 5% of Oregon's lumber production.

The Great Depression begins. There are 608 lumber mills, 5 paper mills, 64 planing mills, and 47 furniture factories in Oregon. Distribution of mills changes from the Columbia River to the margins of the Willamette Valley, Bend, Klamath Falls, Lakeview, and LaGrande. Most lumber is marketed in rough form.

The major focus of the lumber industry moves from northwest to southwest Oregon. The Tillamook Fire (in three separate events, all caused by logging operations) destroys 355,000 acres of Oregons finest timber, 13.1 billion board feet. 1935
The chainsaw is invented.

The theory of sustained yield is applied to Oregon land grant forests by the US Department of the Interior.

Oregon passes Washington as the leading timber producer in nation (Puget Sound virgin timber already has been milled). Oregon becomes the major lumber state in the nation.

Late 1930s
The first sawmill is built in the Willamette Valley.

The United States enters World War II.

The shipbuilding boom begins in Portland. Oregon law requires reforestation after timber harvest.

Conversion of the lumber industry to a diversified forest products industry begins.

Oregon has 1,573 lumber mills, turning out more than 7 billion board feet.

1950-late 1970s
Although the diameter of logs declines, large quantities of logs are converted to lumber, plywood, veneer, and pulp, with moderate variations in volume from one year to the next.

The Multiple-Use Sustained-Yield Act lists five basic uses of national forests: outdoor recreation, range, timber, watershed, and wildlife and fish.

The Columbus Day windstorm causes extensive damage to forests in Oregon.

The National Environmental Policy Act is enacted.

The Oregon Forest Practices Act, the first of its kind in the United States, requires resource protection during logging. (Most states have no reforestation laws.)

Statewide land use planning is approved. Congress passes the Endangered Species Act.

No large area of timber in the state is worked on a sustained-yield basis. Western Oregon begins to consider banning exports and using special methods to speed regrowth.

The National Forest Management Act passes, thus providing for harvest practices which preserve biological diversity and meet multiple-use objectives. The act restricts clearcutting, but does not prohibit it. In western Oregon, only Lane and Douglas counties show an increase in logging; they account for a third of logs produced in state.

The northern spotted owl, with specialized habitat and food requirements that can be met only by an old-growth system, is chosen as an indicator species for the ancient forests.

The USDA Forest Service releases proposed management guidelines for the northern spotted owl; final guidelines are released in 1988.

Fires burn 245,000 acres of timber worth an estimated $97.3 million.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service lists the northern spotted owl as a threatened species in Washington, Oregon, and northern California.

Northern Spotted Owl v. Lujan holds that the Endangered Species Act requires the US Fish and Wildlife Service to designate critical habitat for the owl.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service approves the Habitat Conservation Plan proposed for the Elliott State Forest by the Department of Forestry. Such plans are developed to provide protection for the habitat of sensitive species during land use, e.g., harvesting timber, particularly on nonfederal land.

Major fires burn hundreds of thousands of acres of forest land, much of it in Oregons national forests.

The amount of timber harvested in Oregon is declining, as is Asian demand for Northwest logs. Restrictions on federal land are greater than restrictions on private land. Approximately 10% of old-growth forests remain uncut, virtually all of which are located on federal land.