Editor’s Note: The following entry was developed in response to questions we have been asked locally about timber clearcutting and downed trees one might see in the forests near Seaside, Oregon.
There’s a lot of history surrounding the forested areas surrounding Seaside and the North Coast region. In 1933, 1939, 1945 and 1951, fires decimated very large portions of forest you see in this area. Consequently, the Clatsop and Tillamook State Forests were created to manage the burned areas. When planting resumed, Douglas fir was used to build the forest back up. But as you might imagine, what they learned many years after was that this monoculture could be extremely dangerous to a forest too.
If a tree was to become diseased, that disease could spread quickly and take out a high volume of other trees much the same way a fire could. What has been the goal of state and private foresters, and landowners over the more recent decades, is to create a more diverse and healthy forest.
To do this, clear cutting (creating wide gaps like you may see at times) is generally the most efficient way to start this process. Unfortunately, selective thinning is often just too cost prohibitive.
These clear cuts also have a variety of benefits for wildlife: those sentinel trees are “wildlife trees” and are perfect for perching birds of prey, and bear and deer enjoy foraging in the meadows. The “edges” between the variety of forest stand types also provide critical habitats for many other species. When replanting now occurs in our forests, a variety of tree species are planted, including Western hemlock, Sitka spruce, and Western Red cedar.
Additionally, state forests are managed for a variety of factors (recreation, environmental, economic) and the revenue generated from the timber harvest in Tillamook and Clatsop counties is used to fund our schools and roads.
Storms also wreak havoc on Oregon’s North Coast and can cause a variety of loss/erosion mitigation efforts. A December 2007 storm with sustained winds of more than 100 mph was extremely destructive on a Highway 26 stretch just east of the Highway 101 and Highway 26 junction between Seaside and Cannon Beach. Under the Forest Practices Act law, when trees are cut – and in cases of storm-ravaged areas – planting new trees are required within three years.
We also have a very active Watershed Council in our area who works with other Councils throughout the State of Oregon. They have a great relationship with the timber companies, private landowners, and other interest groups to ensure the watershed remains functioning, healthy, and sustainable.
Many, many people are dedicated to protecting and sustaining the beautiful state we are privileged to live in. We consider ourselves stewards of this beautiful environment here and feel fortunate to have such an amazing landscape – one that we love sharing with visitors and one that we are committed to seeing sustained and cherished for future generations.