Family forest owners in Oregon are required by law to replant their forestlands within two years of a wildfire. Like the wildfires which burned through a large portion of Oregon’s forests this past Labor Day, which included the loss of an estimated 63,000 acres of family forests. The dilemma for the smaller and private forest owners is that seedlings are extremely hard to find. In days gone by, smaller forest owners relied heavily on Oregon state-run nurseries. In fact, many of the trees destroyed in the Labor Day wildfires were from those state-run facilities. However, Oregon closed its nursery more than a decade ago, leaving the smaller forest owners struggling to remain in compliance with state law. This occurred as larger corporations are able to rely on contractual arrangements with commercial nurseries to meet some of their needs. Sadly, Oregon is not alone when it comes to closed state-run nurseries. Eight other states have closed their nurseries over the past two decades and that leaves 29-states with nurseries, but many of them have reduced the number of active facilities. According to Brian Kittler, a reforestation expert with American Forests, a Washington, D.C.-based conservation nonprofit, the reason for the closings and reduction in facilities is, “The private sector doesn’t like the idea of competing with public nurseries. That has led to dramatic reductions in production over time from state nurseries.”
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States Are Growing Fewer Trees. Forest Owners Say That’s a Problem.