What might be the best news ever about Oregon's economy, about the capacity of Oregon’s forests to absorb carbon dioxide, is being kept a secret from the 2018 Legislature.

Oregon's forests were previously assumed to be carbon neutral. Boy, was that wrong!

Data from region-wide U.S. Forest Service Inventory Analysis plots reveal that Oregon forests absorb half of what was previously considered to be Oregon's total carbon footprint of 60 million tons a year.

This startling revelation appears to be a source of concern in Salem, where the new information about the power of Oregon forests to address the challenge of global warming are apparently considered unacceptable to industry and environmental advocates alike, and have not seen the light of day.

The new data was only released in preliminary form by Catherine Mater, chair of the Oregon Global Warming Commission’s Forest Carbon Task Force, so it's too early to draw policy conclusions about what can truly be considered a scientific revolution, with huge implications for Oregon's economy and the planetary ecosystem alike.

What we now need from the Legislature are resources allocated to the Forest Carbon Task Force, the only body presently competent to design the kind of long-term ecological and economic research needed to understand and begin to monetize Oregon's greatest natural treasure: the carbon stored in our mighty forests.

The Elliott Forest is the logical place to locate the kind of brand-new state research institution needed to fully incorporate the new data into the state’s forest management policy.

Fergus Mclean

Dexter (Feb. 7)


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