Westside Forests: old growth and new ideas
Oregon Wild is working to protect the giant old growth forests west of the Cascades and restore areas damaged by decades of mismanagement.
Western Oregon is famous for the vast forests that blanket its valleys, hills, and mountains. From coastal Western hemlock-Sitka spruce forests to subalpine fir forests of the Cascades, Oregon’s forests provide habitat for wildlife, offer world-class recreational opportunities, and filter the drinking water for most cities and communities. These forests provide a home for threatened fish and wildlife, from bald eagles and coho salmon to wolverines and bull trout.
Western Oregon has a long history of commercial logging, from the rise of the industry in the late 1800s and the timber boom after WWII, to the resurgence of aggressive logging in the 1980s. Over a century of logging has left a patchwork of clear-cuts, thinned stands, dense plantations, and some native stands across Oregon.
Unsustainable logging perpetuated the boom and bust economic cycles in many rural communities in Oregon. It also wreaked havoc on populations of fish and wildlife and shrank Oregon's wildlands, harming opportunities for hunting, fishing, hiking, and other activities.
The Northwest Forest Plan of the 1990s was an attempt to end the "timber wars", and set aside some of the remaining old-growth forests to protect threatened fish and wildlife. Unfortunately, the Bush administration and timber industry launched a tremendous attack on this plan called the Western Oregon Plan Revision (WOPR) on Bureau of Land Management lands.
Until our oldest forests are permanently protected, Oregon Wild will continue to work to keep our forests, waters, and wildlife healthy and intact.
Hope for the future
Though we wish we had more magnificent old-growth forests left, the legacy of past abuse now provides us with an opportunity. Young, unnaturally dense plantations that now grow in old clearcuts lack the diversity found in native forests and fail to provide good habitat for many kinds of fish and wildlife. But with careful thinning and other types of restoration activities, these forests can be put back on track to become old-growth forests sooner, and we can repair some of the damage we've done to our watersheds.
Oregon Wild's common-sense vision for protecting our last remaining ancient forests, and restoring what has been damaged, is a hopeful future for our public lands.
Check out some forest profiles and our our westside forest slideshow: