Oregon’s State Forester to Recommend Moving Forward With Controversial Habitat Conservation Plan

The Oregon state forester, Cal Mukumoto, will recommend moving forward with the controversial logging plan for 634,000 acres of state forest, known as the Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP), which aims to balance protecting wildlife habitat and reducing logging for the next 70 years, The Salem Statesman Journal reported (3-5-24). The final decision will be made by the Oregon Board of Forestry at a meeting on Thursday, March 7th.

The plan has sparked heated debate, with concerns raised in rural Oregon about potential job losses and reduced county services. Environmental groups argue that the reduction in logging is necessary to protect endangered species and comply with federal regulations. If approved, the plan would provide habitat protection for numerous species. The plan would also scale back logging to an estimated 185 million board feet of timber from western Oregon state forests. Over the last decade, the same forests have produced over 225 million board feet.

Timber groups and rural county commissioners have strongly criticized the HCP, warning of job losses and revenue cuts for communities that rely on timber harvest funds for services. Recent closures of sawmills in Oregon have heightened tensions, with companies citing the high prices of logs and the planned reductions in harvest as contributing factors. The opposition to the plan is expected to be fierce at the upcoming meeting, with industry representatives calling for amendments to improve the balance between logging outcomes and wildlife protection.

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