State Forester Doug Decker and Oregon Board of Forestry Chair Tom Imeson met with The Oregonian editorial board today to discuss issues facing state forests.
Decker and Imeson discussed the Department of Forestry's role in three areas: management of state forests, fire protection for forestlandsand advocacy for Oregon in federal forest policy. But much of the discussion revolved around a common theme: money.
In short, Imeson and Decker said, the department needs to change its management approach to be economically viable. At the least, that means looking for new management strategies. At the most, and in the longer term, it could mean finding ways to "monetize" forest assets other than wood. One example would be trading carbon credits or other credits tied to the environment.
One possible change in management would be to zone forests for different uses -- wood, conservation or recreation, for example.
Currently forest managers try to balance competing interest while managing the forest as a whole.
"We get push from both sides," Decker said. "We're looking for a scientifically based forest-management style that is economically viable," and achieves other desired outcomes, such as conservation.
The department is backing House Bill 2050 to shore up funding for fire protection in forests. The bill, among other ways, would change how financial responsibility for fire fighting is spread among the general fund, landowners and insurance.