OSU Forests 03

Cindy Lederer and Jon Sears finish a hike on the Vineyard Mountain Trail on Friday morning. Built last year, the trail is part of a major package of outdoor recreation improvements in the works on OSU's McDonald-Dunn Research Forest just north of Corvallis.

I wonder if Kathleen Dean Moore sees the irony in excoriating Oregon State University for logging its forests while holding a promotion of her 240-page book. In her recent As I See It piece, she is correct that our forests do provide us with soul-calming venues to research our own thoughts and feelings. She was wrong in many other ways.

She got it wrong when she wrote, “Once it's destroyed, it will never return.” Trees grow and OSU replants every place they cut — and OSU maintains specific reserves for old growth and retains many older trees after harvests that will grow into older growth and become habitat for all sorts of creatures. This is not the “clear-cutting” image of a barren wasteland totally denuded of trees — it will grow with many different ages of trees for future generations to enjoy. She also claims that OSU is managing the forests by destroying it and that they bully and alienate every neighbor. I am their neighbor and I do not feel any of that. As to how OSU manages the forest I direct the reader’s attention to the very detailed plan at: https://cf.forestry.oregonstate.edu/our-forests/mcdonald-dunn-forest-plan. This is not a plan for destruction, rather a plan for renewal and a plan for preservation of old growth.

My family has taken many walks in the woods from out our front door to the old growth preserves north of the Lewisburg Saddle. In fact, it was on one of these walks that my would-be son-in-law stopped on the little bridge over a bubbling brook to ask for my daughter’s hand in marriage. So, yes, I have a special place in my heart for that stand of ancient trees and the little brook that runs through them. This would not have been possible without OSU’s commitment to preserving old growth and providing trails for our journey.

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I grew up in Utah and my favorite memories are of Scout camp in the High Uintas where the forest is more open than here in Oregon with a forest floor that is a bed of pine needles thick enough to sleep on. I appreciate OSU’s management of McDonald Forest to educate, recreate, and enhance access to the forest, without which we could not even walk through the thick underbrush that is typical of most of McDonald Forest.

More than the cutting of trails and building of forest roads, I appreciate how this helps mitigate the fire danger with fire breaks, access roads for firefighting equipment and the vigilance that travelers walking the forest bring. Last year’s Camp Fire, which destroyed Paradise, California wasn’t the first wake-up call to the dangers of living on the edge of a forest, but it was a dramatic one. Both of my children went to college in Chico, which was fortunately spared the burning of its neighbor but the impact on livability in Chico was, and still is, immense. Right now the Canyonville fire is choking the air with smoke in Ashland and some of the famed Oregon Shakespeare Festival may have to be canceled. The number of visitors to Ashland has been declining for three straight years due to the smoke. The Corvallis Rural Fire Protection District, working with the Corvallis Fire Department, has purchased the wildland brush rigs stationed at your local fire stations in the city. There are also two water tender trucks purchased and stationed in the city. If you’d like to know more about the Rural Fire Protection District, please visit www.CorvallisCRFPD.com and sign up to our email list.

When there was a grass fire in the field just south of Michelle Drive, OSU stationed someone at the forest gate just in case we needed to evacuate the neighborhood through the roads in McDonald Forest. Fortunately, we didn’t need their escape route. Without the quick response from the Corvallis Fire Department at Locke Fire Station, the cooperation of the Oregon Department of Forestry and the forethought of OSU we may very well have been in the same trouble that Paradise was last year. We are very fortunate to have a thoughtful steward like OSU managing our surrounding forest lands.

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Bob Conder is chairman of the board of directors of the Corvallis Rural Fire Protection District.