Avoid the ‘quick buck,’ and revisit county forest plan

Another Voice


Special to the News

Biological and structural diversity is the key and cornerstone of healthy and productive forests.

* The top few inches of forest floor is an enduring magic carpet — spongy, permeable and nutrient-rich.

* The sustainable forest is a complex structure of big, little and middle-sized trees, of old downed logs rotting away, a patchy, open canopy, native hard woods, a flourishing under story of shrubs, grasses, lichens, mosses, fungi, and a teeming micro-world below ground.

* The forests we want and plan for will be home to voles, chipmunks, squirrels, bees, hornets, ants, butterflies and birds, the pileated woodpecker, the ruffed grouse, wrens, chickadees, and four-leggeds big and little.

* And yes, we want a bountiful harvest of quality logs; logs selected with care, a tree at a time and removed with the least possible disturbance of the variety and abundance we have been describing.

* The forests we plan and work toward will have vistas and silences — the play of light and shade — values that nourish the human spirit.

The Hood River County Forestry Department is operating with a management plan (policies, practices, rules) that embodies the resource extraction corporate mind-set of the 1970s and 1980s. It has been a remarkably successful cash-flow plan, which has been essentially unchanged by a recent rewording. The “revised” plan is heavily weighted toward the false economics of clear-cut harvesting and was adopted by the commissioners without the broadest possible public participation.

I say “false” because the hard-to-quantify long-range costs of clear-cutting, according to the best knowledge we have, outweigh the “quick buck” gains.

Instead of using the phrase “balancing act between economy and ecology,” we should think of the integration of economy and ecology.

Clear-cutting is probably not sustainable over several rotations and places an overwhelming burden of restoration upon future generations.

This article is not the place to discuss these issues with all their historical, social, and political implications; the place for that is a public forum where informed and responsible citizens will have a voice, and where, in developing a 2003 forestry management plan, we will draw on ecologically responsible work already done in government agencies and schools of forestry elsewhere.

Two burning issues for right now were headlined in The Oregonian recently. One is climate change. This winter’s temperatures are predicted to be 3 degrees Farenheit above normal; snow levels at lower elevations below normal, then dry summer to follow; out of control fires a probability approaching certainty.

It would be prudent to do what we can to adapt to climate change. The forests of the Northwest are a potentially vast sink for keeping CO2 locked in the biomass, especially in big trees.

But what are we to do with the great mountains of slash that remain after we have thinned our untended, fire-prone, second-growth forests? Were we not “playing with fire” when forest revenues went into county budgets instead of into jobs thinning overstocked forests?

Difficult discussions like this can only be addressed by an entire community.

If you wish to become active, write to Citizens for New Forestry, 2520 Kingsley Rd., Hood River, OR 97031.


Don and Kerry Shawe and Silvan are the owner/operators of the Rahane Eco-forest farm of 100 acres on Kingsley Road. The family farm uses single tree selection, uneven-age forestry. Every year for the last 50 years, there has been a harvest at Rahane; the cut never to exceed two percent of the total volume of standing timber. Over one million board feet has been removed. Today the total volume of high-quality standing timber is estimated in excess of one million board feet. Visitors are welcome.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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