BLM pilot projects show the promise of collaboration


Good news out of Southern Oregon: three pilot Bureau of Land Management forestry projects led by retired professors are showing promising results so far.

The projects in the Medford, Roseburg and Coos Bay forest districts, which we last wrote about here, “indicate it’s possible to retain old trees, protect watersheds and wildlife and still provide jobs,” said Jerry Franklin, a retired professor of ecosystem science at University of Washington, and Norm Johnson, a retired professor of forestry resources at Oregon State University, this week in the Oregonian.

The projects have been successful enough that U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ken Salazar will hold a town hall meeting in Medford on Tuesday, Feb. 21. to discuss the pilot project there.

The projects were designed to bridge the gap between the concerns of timber companies and environmental groups, and so far, it appears that’s possible, according to Franklin and Johnson.

A lay person’s reaction to seeing the projects might be, “Oh my gosh, there’s still a forest here,” Franklin said Wednesday afternoon. He and Johnson were on their way to the 900-acre Medford project, where 250 acres was sold for timber and is being logged.

Large old trees will be left standing while other trees will be logged, but none by clearcutting. In addition to producing wood products, the work will reduce the threat of damage from fire or disease and increase the diversity of tree stands, Franklin said.

The projects represent a middle ground between timber industry advocates who call for intensive logging and environmental groups that want the forests preserved, he said.

“They want you to believe that’s your two choices,” he said, while the projects show there are “a whole array of choices.”

The Coos Bay and Roseburg project sites are being prepared for timber sales later this year. Franklin said BLM staff adapted quite easily to the revised management directives.