Logging in the Klamath-Siskiyou

Industrial logging and fire suppression have fundamentally altered the fire-evolved forests of the Klamath Siskiyous. Virtually all private, state and county timber lands in the region have been converted into dense, young fiber plantations managed as crops on short rotations. Nearly half the BLM and Forest Service public forests have also been managed primarily for timber production.

The history of overcutting has left a legacy of tree plantations that are neither resilient to fire nor good wildlife habitat. It has also left an over-constructed maze of logging roads that the Forest Service and BLM simply cannot afford to maintain to the necessary ecological or safety standards.

Increasingly timber interests, conservationists including KS Wild, scientists and federal land management agencies are coming together to focus logging activities on thinning previously logged plantations and in fire-evolved forest stands in which fire suppression has resulted in encroachment by less resilient off-site conifers.

While many timber sale planners in the Forest Service and BLM are moving towards collaborative planning that incorporates the widely-held value that most Americans place on old-growth forests, biodiversity and water quality, there are still a few "bad apples" in the agencies that believe the only value that should be provided by public forests is timber revenue.

There are still some timber planners who regularly target old-growth trees for logging and still insist on punching more logging roads into the forest even though they cannot afford to maintain the roads that already exist.

Perhaps the most destructive form of public lands logging that is still common on public lands in the Klamath Siskiyous is post-fire "salvage" logging in which naturally recovering fire-dependent native forests are logged and converted into fiber plantations following wildfires. Such logging is often devastating to delicate post-fire soils, contributes greatly to sediment production into streams and creeks, inhibits natural forest recovery and regeneration, and decreases the fire-resiliency of recovery forest stands.

Fortunately, the peer-reviewed science regarding the harmful impacts of post-fire logging is developing to the point where it is more and more difficult to justify "salvage" logging. Nevertheless, after most wildfires on public lands, the BLM and the Forest Service are pushed by timber industry advocates to aggressively log across the landscape.

KS Wild monitors and field-checks federal timber sales in southwest Oregon and northwest California. We make sure that logging proposals follow the law, and we double-check to make sure projects are implemented as they were planned. We encourage timber planners to thin plantations and fire-suppressed stands to increase biodiversity and fire-resiliency and we work to stop timber sales that harm old-growth forests, roadless wildlands or water quality.