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When they have another tour, I encourage everyone to attend. It was very educational to me as I know less about forestry than catching fish consistantly (that's not much folks!). I do however know how to fish ;-)

Here are my takaways - sorry for the long wind but I learned a lot:

Tillamook Forest Tour Learnings
4-26-03

How did the Tillamook forest get to where we are today:

· Sometime after the Tillamook burns in the early 1950’s there were many defaults on property and the State of Oregon was chartered to manage the forest on behalf of the county.
· If you consider the start of the present Tillamook Forest as the reforestation efforts, consider this effort followed the multiple Tillamook forest burns in the 1930 to 1950’s. The starting point after the fires was gross devastation. There was very little old growth left after the burn (estimated to be about 1%). And there was virtually no native seed stock to repopulate and replant the forest.
· At this time, there was very little pacific coast forest restoration scientific knowledge as to how to reforest the land. The forest needed to be restored quickly from the vast devastation. There was much damage to the rivers, estuaries, and bay from the silt run off as well as other animal habitat.
· Douglas Fur was the primary rebuilding stock chosen and both saplings and seed stock from the western cascades was used as it was one of the most immediately available options.
· This choice of planting fur has resulted in a 72% “closed single canopy” forest structure. The most recent forest scientific theories suggest a diversity of structure types and plants as ideal for healthy forests, animal habitat, and resilience. One suggestion is the steep and wet slopes of the Tillamook drainage is perhaps not the ideal environment for a dense tree population of primarily Douglas fur. Rather, a mixture of spruce, hemlock and diverse ground coverings may be closer to the native fauna and would be more in keeping with natural coastal fauna. Unfortunately, this diversity of fauna is a very small portion of the forest.
· Many Douglas furs within the Tillamook forest have a problem with Swiss Needle Drop which is a fungus that infects the pores of the tree’s needles causing them to shed the needles which affects the growth and vitality of the trees. Although the cause is not known, it is suspected that the Douglas fur stock used to repopulate the forest is of a genetic makeup that is not suited for the wet coastal Tillamook area.

Activities on stream habitat restoration and improvement

· I was impressed with the habitat restoration work we witnessed. In many areas, we were trying to figure out how the logs were placed in the streams as we did not see any damage from vehicles. I later found out that log placement by helicopter, although expensive is very efficient in placing logs and minimizes damage to surrounding habitat. Selective concrete bridges as opposed to culverts are much more expensive but more effective in creating habitat for fish passage. There are many cost verses benefit and stretching of the budget decisions that are made of this type in stretching of the restoration budget. I liked what I saw and gained a better understanding of the reasoning behind the choices.
· The budget for habitat restoration is approximately 35% of actual funds directed to the work. The remaining funds come from various grants – private, federal, State, etc. This can be further stretched through volunteers such as planting trees, willows, brush to hold stream banks. This could be an opportunity for those of us that want intercity kids or other programs to have a hand in creating the future. I recall planting trees in the Tillamook Forest while in the scouts long ago and both enjoy and appreciate more deeply what we have today as a result. There is an opportunity for savy grant writers to work with the forestry department to apply and gain grants for habitat restoration.
· I heard that for Coho survival, winter habitat is very important to long term survival in addition to summer cover and shade. At winter high water run off, merely placing logs in the river to develop pockets may not be as effective as creating off channel cover as the pockets are often too swift for smolt to remain and find food.
· Logs placed in the river for cover must be of specific dimensions with respect to length and diameter verses the dimensions of the high water levels in the stream. Careful placement without cables may allow for more dynamic movement and ultimate settlement rather than using cables in which the stream is controlled. This natural movement will allow the stream to naturally form habitat in a dynamic way while not being washed downstream in flood conditions when done correctly.
· Closing a road requires much red tape and citizen input. These are being done constantly in keeping with a steady road to forest ratio balance while allowing for fire protection coverage.
· The little north fork of the Wilson is a very productive Chinook breeding ground. In some recent years producing as many as estimated 1M Chinook fry (2002).

Going forward into the future

· There is a variety of forest practices and the manner in which they are implemented. This seems obvious but it was very evident that I cannot judge all forest management as the same as there are private, federal, state, etc which all manage and interpret the laws differently. In the future, if I see areas which are poorly managed I have to be careful to identify the managing party so as not to transfer these practices to other agencies.
· I came away with a good feeling that the State of Oregon has a very reasonable approach to managing the Tillamook forest into the future. The 10 year plan which will be reevaluated and monitored reasonably addresses the diverse interests of those concerned. Given that the forest is not ideally structured and populated with out of area gene stock furs, many areas are infested with fungus, and the need to restructure the forest structure over time while preserving animal habitat: these are very challenging tasks to balance against the extreme positions of extreme loggers, need for county revenue from logging, recreational users, and the extreme environmentalists. I believe the present forest plan is a very reasonable starting place from which to build a future that does not give into extreme positions. They also realize the diversity of interests and are very open to working with all parties which will no doubt ever be satisfied completely.
· The “clear cut” areas I saw were not the same devastation I have seen in other forests. Some differences are leaving “seed trees” standing of moderate density, no caterpillar tracks, consulting with geologists and intentionally leaving specific areas intact due to possible instability regarding land slides, selection and removal of infected furs only while leaving conifers, and use of overhead lines for removal of trees. This is very different from the massive clear cuts in other areas.
· There are some great developments for recreational users as well which balance motorized forest users verses no motorized users. For the most part, hwy 6 divides these user groups (south is for motors) although this is not a hard and fast policy.
 
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