The decades-old ban on logging trees 21-inches or greater in diameter in national forest across eastern Oregon and southeast Washington was amended on Friday, January 15th, 2021, when U.S. Department of Agriculture Undersecretary James Hubbard signed off on the change. Rather than a blanket restriction on logging large trees, the U.S. Forest Service will replace the 21-inch rule with a more flexible guideline that generally calls for protecting old-growth forests but allows land managers to make exceptions if they meet the agency’s long-term restoration goals. Under the decision, “old trees” are defined as at least 150 years, and “large trees” are defined as 30 inches in diameter for grand fir and white fir, and 30 inches for any other species. Emily Platt, project coordinator for the Forest Service said that — while it may seem counterintuitive — logging certain types of large trees can actually improve forest health and boost the number of old, large trees on the landscape. According to the Oregon Forest Resource Institute, the federal government owns about 60% of Oregon forestland, but that ownership accounts for just 13% of the annual timber harvest. Opposing views have already petitioned the incoming administration to halt or reverse the change until further public input can be attained.
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Forest Service axes 21-inch logging ban in Eastern Oregon forests