Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests
The rich history of the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests revolves around abundant fish, natural beauty, clean drinking water, timber harvest, and outdoor recreation. Unfortunately, recent years have seen these lands managed with timber production valued over other social, environmental, and economic outcomes. These forests, which are still recovering from devastating logging and fires, need a balanced management approach that protects all their inherent benefits and provides Oregonians with the Greatest Permanent Value.
The Sierra Club and its allies have been fighting to defend the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests for decades. History has seen these forests overtly abused by unsustainable and ecologically degrading logging. This abuse was facilitated by a Department of Forestry that was not only a public agency unresponsive to the public, but also an agency whose leadership held many of the same values as those large timber executives who see the same shade of green in forests as they do on dollar bills. Recent increases in clearcut targets, prompted by ODF and the Board of Forestry have coincided with big timber companies becoming even farther removed from the land they harvest. The saying is that timber companies used to have administrative offices—now it’s administrative offices (or more accurately hedge funds) that have timber companies.
However, there is new-found promise of a more responsive ODF led by State Forester Doug Decker, a Board of Forestry which includes recent appointees with science and conservation backgrounds, a Governor who vocally advocates for conservation on State Forests, and a diverse Coalition that includes the Sierra Club, Wild Salmon Center, NW Steelheaders, NW Guides and Anglers, and Trout Unlimited. With the hard work of 1000s of volunteers, we have helped to create a new land classification called “High Value Conservation Areas.” This classification has been applied to over 100,000 acres of the Tillamook & Clatsop!
Now, the Board of Forestry is rewriting its Forest Management Plan. This is a crucial moment that will decide what these lands look like for the next 10 years and beyond. With your help, Oregonians will see thriving, vibrant, multi-use forestlands for future generations, not industrial tree farms benefiting only a few.|read less|
Your involvement in the protection of these state forests is everything! There are numerous ways to volunteer: get into the forest, get into the office, or get into your community!
A Rich History
The Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests were once majestic places indeed — rainforests of mixed old growth evergreens 150 to 400 years old, so dense with flora and fauna that they were largely impenetrable to humans, including Lewis and Clark who ended their expedition in these forests.
Then, in a series of catastrophic fires in the 1930’s and 40’s, the vast majority of the forests were burned to the ground. The Tillamook Burn, as the fires came to be known, destroyed nearly 1000 square miles of a unique temperate rainforest.|read more|
In 1948, the people of Oregon voted to tax themselves to restore this ancient forest. In the most massive forest restoration project attempted at the time, thousands of Oregonians volunteered to help replant the forest — tree by tree.
Rising out of the ashes, the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests now comprise the largest contiguous temperate rainforest in the lower 48 states. The 810 square-mile area, is larger than Crater Lake National Park and the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area combined.
Because of the low elevation and ample rainfall, these forests are renowned for their productive ecosystems. Over 70 species of concern to biologists make their home in these forests, including the endangered Coho Salmon, Marbled Murrelet, and Northern Spotted Owl. Rainfall in excess of 150 inches per year feed the legendary salmon rivers of the Tillamook—the Nestucca, Trask, Wilson, Kilchis, and Nehalem. These rivers are known for producing incredible sea-run fish, but populations have declined sharply in recent years. Some species are at serious risk, including Spring Chinook, Coho, and Chum Salmon. But all of the Tillamook’s rivers support sustaining runs of wild Fall Chinook and Winter Steelhead.
However, there is a threat. Now that the Tillamook and Clatsop forests have come of age thanks to the money and sweat of Oregonians, timber companies and surrounding county governments are ready to claim the 50 to 60 year-old-trees. But these forests belong to ALL Oregonians. While a predictable and sustainable timber enterprise is a crucial part of our economy and cultural heritage, these public lands cannot be treated like industrial tree farms.
Values over the last few decades have changed and now a majority of Oregonians want their public forests conserved to provide wild spaces, clean water, clean air, and recreation. Protection and restoration of large parts of our state forests will diversify our economy and improve our quality of life. It’s time to let ALL Oregonians share the benefits from the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests.
The Tillamook & Clatsop boast recreation opportunities of nearly all types. From the wondrous views of the Pacific & Mt. Hood from the summit of Kings Mountain to the iconic steelhead and salmon opportunities on the coastal rivers, these forests provide a nearby getaway for most Oregonians.
The Sierra Club frequently leads outings into these forests through the Columbia Group’s outings program. Check out the calendar!
The North Coast State Forest Coalition also hosts events in the forest, including hikes, fishing clinics, and conservation-oriented activities. Check out the calendar!
The Tillamook & Clatsop, in close proximity to the Portland Metro area and many coastal communities, are also easy to discover without a group. Highways 26 & 6, along with a substantial network of logging roads, make these forests quite accessible. Here are some suggested spots to begin your exploration of these lands.
Chris Smith Conservation Program Coordinator
(503) 238-0442 ext 307