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2023 Resolution No. 1 – Regarding Mature and Old Growth Policy on Federal Lands

This Resolution will be presented and voted on during the opening breakfast at the OLC, Thursday morning, February 23, 2023

A resolution by the Oregon Logging Conference Regarding Mature and Old Growth Policy on Federal Lands

WHEREAS, on April 22, 2022, President Joe Biden signed Executive Order 14072, titled “Strengthening the Nation’s Forests, Communities, and Local Economies” and directed federal agencies to pursue science-based, sustainable forest and land management, and to conserve America’s mature and old-growth forests on Federal lands; and

WHEREAS, Executive Order 14072 identifies the primary threats to forests, including mature and old-growth forests, to include climate impacts, catastrophic wildfires, insect infestation, and disease, and does not identify timber harvesting as a primary threat to these forests; and

WHEREAS, in response to Executive Order 14072, Federal agencies including the United States Forest Service has initiated a process to define and inventory mature and old-growth forests on Federally owned lands across the country, and in 2023 will enter into regulatory rulemaking to implement conservation strategies to conserve mature and old-growth forests on Federal lands; and

WHEREAS, anti-forestry and anti-logging activists are pressuring the Biden Administration and the Forest Service to establish arbitrary age-class restrictions, and/or a new policy similar to the Clinton-era Roadless Area Conservation Policy to further restrict forest management activities on Federal lands, and such policies will lead to larger and severe wildfires and further losses on forests, wildlife habitat, water resources, timber and other benefits; and

WHEREAS, efforts to restrict management in “old growth and mature” forests ignore the fact that forests are dynamic ecosystems where disturbance events can reset 100- to 200-year-old forests to zero in the course of a single day; and

WHEREAS, arbitrary policies including critical habitat designations, wilderness designations and other land set-asides have already greatly restricted science-based, sustainable forest and land management activities throughout the Pacific Northwest and California; and

WHEREAS, in a U.S. Forest Service report, titled “Northwest Forest Plan—The First 25 Years (1994–2018): Status and Trends of Late-Successional and Old-Growth Forests,” the agency found that wildfire is the leading cause for older forest losses on federal lands; and

WHEREAS, a scientific study in California found mature forest habitat are highly vulnerable due to high tree density in forests and up to 85 percent of mature forest habitat has been lost or degraded due to fire and/or drought; and

WHEREAS over the past 20 years, many states have had record catastrophic wildfires, devastating communities, lives, and livelihoods, and causing billions of dollars in damage. More than 10 million acres – more than twice the size of New Jersey – burned each year across the U.S. in 2020, 2017 and 2015; and

WHEREAS, on January 18, 2022, the Biden Administration, the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of the Interior announced a 10-year wildfire strategy to treat up to 20 million acres on national forests and grasslands, and up to 30 million acres of treatments on other Federal, state, Tribal, private, and family lands, and recognized the importance of the timber industry to support the implementation of this strategy, and

WHEREAS, active forest management, including timber harvesting can thin overstocked stands and help restore healthy and resilient conditions on federal lands for mature and old growth trees on federal lands, maximizing the forests’ ability to sequester and store carbon; as well as provide renewable wood products that store carbon for generations.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Oregon Logging Conference go on record in calling on President Biden, his departments and agencies to implement its 10-year wildfire strategy, to reject policies that would further limit forest management activities that help prevent the loss of forests and forest resources on Federal lands, and to work with the timber industry to sustain our regional forest products infrastructure and to restore the health and resiliency of our Federally-owned forests.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that copies of this resolution be provided to Oregon’s congressional delegation, Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, the Department of the Interior, the Chief of the United States Forest Service, and the Director of the Bureau of Land Management.

This resolution will be presented by Nick Smith, Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities.

As a member of a multi-generation farming family, Smith has a passion for natural resources and rural communities. In 2013 he founded Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities, a non-profit, non-partisan grassroots coalition that advocates for active forest management on federally owned lands.

Smith has a background in public policy and communications, having worked in the Oregon Legislature in various capacities and having served several members of leadership in the House of Representatives.

Smith holds a BA in Journalism from Chico State and a Master of Public Administration from Portland State.