Saturday, March 16, 2013

Smaller Harvest, Little Trees and Fewer Staff in Coos District

Seven employees of the Oregon Department of Forestry received layoff notices on Monday, March 11th as a result of the reduced harvest level now planned for the Coos District.  For the past 10 years their harvest had been between 25 and 30 million board feet (MMBF) and is now set at 15 MMBF.  This harvest will be primarily from younger and smaller trees similar to those removed from forests managed mostly for timber production by large private owners.  Previous harvests on the Coos District included trees that grew following forest fires in the mid to late 1800’s.

How will this effect Oregon’s rural economy?  From the timber harvest standpoint the loss of 15 MMBF of timber harvest equates to the loss of 165* direct forest sector jobs. These are the family wage jobs prized anywhere and cherished in rural areas.  There is also the threat to infrastructure like the mill in Douglas County that takes logs and turns them into timbers for timber frame homes.  Wood homes sequester carbon and these timber frame homes really look spectacular doing it.

These layoffs are also a big loss of skill from the Coos District.  One person who received a lay off notice has more than 30 years, and another more than 25 years of experience of working in Oregon’s Forests.  Others with homes and family face major changes in their lives and disruption in the communities where they live.

Please write your Oregon Legislator and ask them to help restore harvest levels on the Coos District and bring jobs back to Coos Bay.

* Oregon Forest Resources Institute 2012 Forest Report “Poised to Rebound”; 1 MMBF of timber harvested creates or retains 11 direct forest sector jobs.