Fads in forestry come and go, but policy makers should recognize the value in a multiplicity of approaches, according to John Gordon, Pinchot professor emeritus and former dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.
“Oregon has a lot of forests. It also has a lot of people who know about forestry and are practicing many, many ways to go about it,” Gordon said.
“My thesis is we should see that as an opportunity, not a problem.”
Gordon, who taught for a number of years in the Oregon State University College of Forestry and now lives in Portland, will be the keynote speaker in this year’s Starker Lecture Series at OSU. The series has been sponsored since 1985 by Starker Forests Inc., a family-owned timber company based in Philomath.
Gordon’s talk, titled “Forestry Diversity: A Key to Oregon’s Future,” will kick off the 2014 Starker Lectures next Thursday at Richardson Hall on the OSU campus. The theme for this year’s series is “Working Forests Across the Landscape.”
Rather than championing a one-size-fits-all approach to forest management, Gordon said, it makes more sense to tailor the management style to fit the circumstances. Oregon’s Indian tribes, for instance, have had great success in using a variety of techniques to achieve a variety of desired outcomes.
“They are innovative and tend, in my view, to do a better job of managing all the objectives of the tribe,” he said.
“I think that’s the kind of forestry that’s worth looking at and emulating.”
Gordon cited the ongoing debate over the O&C lands as an example our current approach to forest policy, which has been mired in political gridlock for years. There are competing bills in Congress that attempt to increase the timber harvest on the former Oregon & California Railroad lands to provide revenue for cash-strapped counties while protecting environmental values, but so far no consensus has emerged around either measure.
“We have the timber industry on the one hand and the environmentalists on the other hand, and we have to let them fight it out to determine the best way to divide the baby,” Gordon said. “I think that’s probably the least productive way to go about deciding it.”
A better approach, he said, would be to bring all interested parties to the table in a concerted effort to find common ground. That actually happened during the seventh American Forest Congress in 1996, when 1,500 stakeholders from around the country hammered out a set of core principles for a broad-based forest policy.
Unfortunately, Gordon said, the goodwill generated by that effort “fell victim to our perhaps particularly American penchant to fight rather than win.”
Additional lectures in the Starker series will follow on Feb. 27 and April 24 from a pair of U.S. Forest Service researchers, forester Tom Spies of the Pacific Northwest Research Station in Corvallis and social scientist Paige Fischer of the Western Wildland Environmental Threat Assessment Center in Prineville.
On May 29, a capstone field trip will tour several working forests in Linn County that are being managed at the landscape level.
There is no charge to attend, but preregistration is required for the field trip. For more information, call the OSU College of Forestry at 541-737-1585.
Contact reporter Bennett Hall at email@example.com or 541-758-9529.
2014 Starker Lectures
Feb. 6: John Gordon, “Forestry Diversity: A Key to Oregon’s Future,” 3:30 p.m., Room 107, Richardson Hall, 3180 S.W. Jefferson Way
Feb. 27: Tom Spies, “A Luxuriant Landscape: Oregon’s Working Forest Landscapes, an Ecological Perspective,” 3:30 p.m., Room 107, Richardson Hall
April 24: Paige Fischer, “Beyond Boundaries: Social Challenges and Opportunities in Forest Landscape Management,” Room 107, Richardson Hall
May 29: Capstone field trip to view working forests in Linn County, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., preregister online at starkerlectures.forestry.oregonstate.edu/capstone-field-trip-registration