National Siuslaw Forest in southern Oregon, where Jim Furnish once served as the Forest Supervisor.

National Siuslaw Forest in southern Oregon, where Jim Furnish once served as the Forest Supervisor.

Photo: James Perkins, Flickr

Jim Furnish began his career in southern Oregon in a tiny town south of Roseburg in 1965. Over much of the next four decades he took jobs around the country, including in Washington D.C. as the agency’s deputy chief. But as he describes it, his single biggest accomplishment came before that — as the forest supervisor for the Siuslaw National Forest.

He says in his memoir, Toward a Natural Forest, that in that position he strove to “obey the law” and tell “the truth.”

As forest supervisor he led the forest management in the era of the Northwest Forest Plan and environmental and logging fights over the endangered spotted owl. Furnish made clear-cuts off limits in the Siuslaw, a move that environmentalists hailed but one that was not as popular inside the Forest Service itself.

We’ll talk with Furnish about his time in the U.S. Forest Service, about what he sees as the continued tension between stewardship and conservation of public forest lands, and where he thinks the agency is headed in the future. 

What questions do you have about the management of forest and timber resources?