Of Oregon’s 30 million acres of forest, approximately 745,000 acres are owned and managed by the state. Over 600,000 of those acres are known as Forest Trust Lands. In the 1930s, 15 counties entered into an agreement with the state that conveyed ownership and management of 613,000 acres of county forestland to the Oregon Department of Forestry. In exchange, ODF agreed to actively manage those Forest Trust Lands and return 64 percent of the revenues produced from timber harvest to the counties, with the state retaining the remaining 36 percent as a management fee. The counties then distribute the money received to taxing districts within the county, benefiting K-12 education, fire departments, community colleges, healthcare centers, emergency response, libraries, 4-H programs. For many decades, harvests on these forests have existed alongside conservation efforts and recreational access for all Oregonians.
These forests are managed by the Department of Forestry, but all day-to-day operations, from road building to harvesting and replanting, is done by small, forest sector businesses from the surrounding communities. Hundreds of these family-owned and operated businesses work on state forestland. Many of them are multi-generation – working the same ground their grandparents harvested and replanted decades earlier. These businesses also show up when wildfire strikes, working side-by-side state managers and fire fighters with equipment and boots on the ground. They know these forests like the back of their hand and take great pride in ensuring they are sustainable and able to provide a multitude of benefits for wildlife and recreationists.
As all timber from state forestland is prohibited from export, local sawmills and other wood products manufacturers play a critical role in not only providing a market for state timber, but also creating good, year-round, family-wage jobs for local communities. State forests support soft- and hardwood lumber mills, pulp and paper, plywood and particle board manufacturers. Most of these products are consumed right here in the Pacific Northwest. Manufacturing is the backbone of Oregon’s economy and wood products manufacturing provides some of the best economic opportunities in rural areas of the state.
Research by the Oregon Forest Resources Institute found 11 jobs are created in Oregon for every million board foot of timber harvested.