January 24, 2016
Dear Boise Cascade:
I am not sure whom this letter should be addressed to specifically.
My concern is a 250 acre forest in the Nehalem River Valley, near Jewell Oregon (Clatsop County, Buster Basin). This forest, which Boise Cascade purchased from Oregon Department of Forestry in auction on January 19, has been referred to as the Homesteader Forest.
Over 2,000 people who live in this area of the Nehalem River Valley petitioned Oregon Department of Forestry not to sell/log this forest. It is one of the few remaining older forests in our watershed, a complex forest ecosystem, containing older growth trees of 3 feet to 5 feet in diameter. It is prime habitat for marbled murrelets and spotted owl, not to mention the plethora of native plants and animals that it contains. We feel it should have been regarded as a natural treasure for children’s children. On top of this, we live in a valley where the waters run ferociously through creeks and rivers, where mud slides and silt have become frequent, blocking our roads and turning the Nehalem River brown (currently, it is being dredged).
When I heard the news of the auction to Boise Cascade, I went to your website where I discovered that part of your public image is to be ENVIRONMENTALLY SUSTAINABLE: “One of our core values,” you state “is to manage our business to sustain environmental resources for future generations.” You also state that you “don’t purchase wood from old growth forests.” I think we might have .01% of our old growth forests left. This may be the oldest forest we have remaining in our valley.
I am asking you how you plan to manage the logging of this rare forest? Will you apply your precepts of “sustainability”? My wishful fantasy is that you might turn it into a show case for your sustainable logging practices—and win the enthusiastic support of the many who live here and who have been asking for months now that it not be sacrificed. Needless to say, we are greatly disillusioned with the policies of Oregon Department of Forestry, who ignored the testimony of forest ecologists and the residents of this valley.
Nehalem River Valley
January 25, 2016
To: Gwendolyn Endicott
From: John Salhberg, Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Boise Cascade
Thank you again for your note. I have had an opportunity to talk to some of our people about the Oregon Department of Forestry Homesteader timber sale and will confirm that Boise Cascade was indeed the apparent high bidder. Our foresters have “cruised” this timber sale, as you would expect, and we do not believe any of it is old growth timber. Rather, the timber is about 80 to 85 years old, which means it is second growth or later. I don’t believe that the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) has provided any indication that any of the timber is old growth.
I understand that ODF prescribed the sale as a clear cut, with trees saved or protected according to their forest plan requirements. For example, you will note that there are several larger trees near the road that have been marked to be left as well as the required protection of streams in the area. ODF manages its lands sustainably overall and we are confident that this sale falls into their definitions under sustainable forestry practices. To our knowledge the harvest levels in northwest Oregon in the recent past appear to be near 50% of the total annual growth.
Boise Cascade is certified under the Sustainable Forestry Initiative for Procurement Organizations, and we require our loggers to be certified under the Associated Loggers’ -Professional Loggers Program. We will be implementing the harvest plan as prescribed by the ODF and the contract, in accordance with the ODF’s overall forest management plan. For more information concerning the history and forest management planning requirements please visit the following Oregon Department of Forestry website: http://www.oregon.gov/ODF/Working/Pages/StateForests.aspx
Thank you for your note and I recognize that my response is probably not what you wanted to hear. But I think it is important that you not be misled about the harvest or our intent.
January 27, 2016
I appreciate your courtesy in answering my letter so promptly. I am not surprised that your company subscribes to Oregon Department of Forestry’s management plan. I am, however, mind boggled that you should call their prescribed action for the Homesteader Forest—clearcut– as “sustainable forestry.”
I am sure you must realize that clearcut destroys the forest floor, and in the case of an older growth forest like this one, 80 or 90 native plant species, many of them medicinal. This is not to mention the whole understory of native shrubbery as well as the diverse population of tree species and the seed source for future forests. Oh, and I have not mentioned the birds and the animals. In other words, in clearcut you have destroyed the forest– and have to start over again. I guess that is what is meant when they designated the Homesteader as a “young class stand.”
Nowhere have I claimed that this is an “old growth” forest. In fact, I don’t know where to find one. It is simply one of the few diverse, complex, older forests we have remaining in our valley and has many of the characteristics of an “old growth forest.” I have no idea where you came by the figures that the trees are 80 years old. There are numerous trees in Area 2, for instance, that are between 108-126 years old. For documentation of these statistics please see the North Coast State Forest Coalition website for precise measurement and photos of this forest—and also for an overview of the controversy around the Homesteader and why people who live here feel so strongly about it.
As to the harvest levels in our state—Oregon Department of Forestry delivered a memo to the Oregon Legislature in 2015, stating the current harvest level at 68% of annual growth and 95% of available annual growth. Harvest levels on private forest land are close to 90%. Perhaps a helicopter ride over our state, especially in the Coast Range, would give you an idea of why people are upset.
Although I realize I am writing to a closed door, I do think your company is missing a fantastic opportunity for positive publicity. Take a look at the photos of Area Two on North Coast State Forest Coalition website and imagine that Boise Cascade has preserved a section of this forest–those older trees, that magical forest environment–and has turned it into a “Children’s Forest,” dedicated to future generations that they might remember the treasures of our native coastal forests.