Oregon's Ancient Forests
The Elliott State Forest is one of the crown jewels of the Oregon Coast Range. It is a stronghold for federally listed marbled murrelets, northern spotted owls, and Coho salmon, and has some of the last remaining old-growth forests left in Oregon State forests. The Elliott has historically been one of Oregon's most conflicted landscapes, but in recent years, stakeholders have come together to forge a new collaborative path forward.
From the slopes of Mount Hood to the headwaters of the Willamette, old-growth forest trails in the Oregon Cascades offer some of the best hiking you can imagine. On this webcast, join John Cissel, an old-growth lover and forest researcher who hiked thousands of miles of these trails in the 1990s and published guide-maps and a book describing his favorite hikes in the Mount Hood and Willamette National Forests. Now, he's published a “3rd edition” of his guide online, with updates and reflections from 25 years of change in the forest and on the trails.
Visitors to old-growth forests may know that these forests are ecologically important, but for most people, myself included, it is the more emotive aspects of an old forest that inspire and motivate us. A brief summary of a few hikes in the Willamette National Forest illustrating some of this diversity is provided below.
Rain fell steadily on our drive into the mix of public and private lands southwest of Roseburg last month, the clouds and mist casting an eerie feel over the stark clearcuts we drove through on the way to a proposed logging unit in the 42 Divide Project area. In November 2021, the Roseburg District of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) sent an initial proposal for the 42 Divide Project out to the public for comments, calling for logging over 5,000 acres of forests up to 200 years old.
Court rules that BLM logging sales totaling nearly 18,000 acres including in old-growth forest violated the Endangered Species Act.
Not long after moving to Eugene for graduate school, I took a field trip to the Warner Creek fire area outside of Oakridge. At that time it was 10 years since the 1991 fire. I remember the tall black snags rising tall above, and sapling trees crowded all around me -- head high and coated in dew that soaked through my sub-par rain gear.
Today, June 14, six conservation groups filed a lawsuit challenging a Trump-era rule change that allows logging of mature and old-growth forests on no less than 7 million acres across Eastern Oregon and Washington. The coalition filed its suit over the Forest Service’s decision to eliminate a provision of the Eastside Screens that prohibited the logging of trees larger than 21” in diameter.