What's happening in the forest sector?

Wood: It just might start a growing relationship

After my sophomore year of college, and a three-month tour of Europe with friends, I left the confines of Willamette University in Salem for the expansive campus of the University of Oregon in Eugene. Within days I located a small, second-story studio in east Eugene that was a quick motorcycle ride to campus.

After a month or so, I got this crazy idea to cover two interior walls with cedar shakes. I love the smell of cedar, and I thought the wall covering would be a cheap, cool way to dress up the otherwise drab apartment. Somehow, the landlord agreed. I located a cedar-shake mill in west Eugene (long gone now, I’m sure), wrestled several bundles of cedar up the stairs, and went to work.

By the end of the weekend, I had nailed the cedar to the walls. The studio smelled and looked great. I was ready to entertain.

Shortly thereafter my girlfriend, who lived in Southern California, visited. “Your apartment is nice,” she said. “Let’s have a dinner party.” She invited one of her close female friends and her date. We fixed dinner and ate cross-legged on the floor at a table made from a couple wood planks spread across concrete blocks. Candlelight and wine added to the atmosphere – along with, of course, my cedar wood wall.

Distance eventually dampened the budding romance with the young woman from Southern California. But that other coed, the one my girlfriend invited to dinner, must have been impressed by the cedar walls – and, no doubt, my initiative. A few years later, we were married. And now here we are, 45 years after that, still passionate about each other – and still loving wood.

Which serves to brings up one question: What can wood do for you?

For the forest,

Paul Barnum

Executive Director 

OFRI advertising: the best way to reach the general public

Have you seen our educational ads on television? Or perhaps online?

We began our annual educational advertising program in mid-February, and it will continue through the first week of May. The ads run in the state’s three primary television markets – Portland, Eugene and Medford – as well as online throughout the state on sites such as Hulu, the popular television streaming alternative, and Pandora, a music streaming station. We also run Internet banner ads.

Using advertising to communicate to the general public has long been a tool in OFRI’s public education toolbox. There’s simply not a more efficient, cost-effective way to reach a broad audience.

In 1991, when the Oregon Legislature created OFRI, the state’s population numbered about 2 million residents. Now it’s nearly 4 million. That’s a ton of new people who are not familiar with Oregon’s deep historical, cultural and economic connection with forests, forest management and forest products. Television and online programming is a great way to connect, especially with new residents.

Many newcomers do not know that the state has strong laws that require forest landowners to replant after harvest, conserve wildlife habitat and protect drinking water. They drive past a fresh timber harvest, often a clearcut on their way to the Oregon coast, and assume the trees are gone forever – even though the stand has likely already been replanted.

The truth is that the trees do grow back. And as our recent publication, Oregon Forest Facts 2017-18 Edition, notes, “The amount of forestland in Oregon has held mostly steady at about 30 million acres for more than 60 years.” OFRI’s public education efforts help people realize that responsible forest management is sustainable and can provide us with forest products and ecological benefits in perpetuity.

This year’s ads are the same ones we ran last year. One is titled “Forecast,” and the other is called “Wood is everywhere.”

I get a kick out of “Forecast.” It features actors who pose as meteorologists forecasting rain as the narrator asks the question, “You know that Oregon weather we’re always talking about?” The ad goes on to explain that Oregon’s weather is perfect for growing trees, especially evergreens. This is no doubt why our state tree is the Douglas-fir.

Our timing couldn’t be better for that ad, with record amounts of rainfall in February. It has been a wet one, and I agree with the ad’s conclusion: “The forecast calls for trees.”

For the forest,

Paul Barnum

Executive Director

Forests and Oregon's economy

Oregon dominates U.S. production of softwood lumber and plywood. It is also a leader in engineered wood and home to the first mill in the United States to manufacture structurally certified cross-laminated timber (CLT). In fact, Oregonians are employed in wood products and forestry jobs in each of the state’s 36 counties.

OFRI’s new County Economic Fact Sheets document the importance of forestry in each county. A State of Oregon Economic Fact Sheet summarizes the overall impact of the forestry and wood products industry on Oregon’s economy.

Forestland area in Oregon totals nearly 30 million acres, nearly half of the entire state. In the fact sheets, ownership and timber harvest percentages are given for the various landowner groups. Although federal land accounts for 60 percent of forests statewide, it’s fascinating to see how forest landownership varies across the state. In most counties (GrantLaneDouglas, etc.), the largest forest landowner is the federal government. However, private (Clatsop) and state (Tillamook) ownerships are the largest in other counties. In Wasco and Jefferson counties, tribes own the most forestland. One county (Yamhill) even has small private landowners as the largest ownership group.

Timber harvest in Oregon totaled about 3.7 billion board feet in 2015. About 63 percent of this was by large private landowners. In almost every county, the large private ownership class was responsible for the most timber harvest. However, in Deschutes and Grant counties, the federal government was the largest timber harvester. In Wasco and Jefferson counties, tribes harvested the most timber. In Tillamook County, state forestland harvest levels were a very close second to large private lands.

Forest sector employment totaled more than 61,000 jobs in 2015. This represents about 3 percent of Oregon’s total jobs. How the employment varies by county is especially interesting. Lane County had the largest number of forest sector jobs (7,421), but this accounted for only about 4.4 percent of the county’s total employment. Douglas County had the second largest number and percentage of jobs (5,530 jobs equals 13.2 percent of county employment). Grant County has the highest percentage of county employment in the forest sector (20 percent), but this represents a relatively small 580 jobs.

Forestry is important to the Oregon economy. However, the role it plays is different in each of the state’s 36 counties. Check out the new fact sheets to see where your county fits in.

For the forest,

Mike Cloughesy

Director of Forestry



Wood: the perfect choice for school construction

Many of the people I know have heard that I spent a week in the United Kingdom last fall on a fact-finding mission to learn more about what has made that country so successful in mainstreaming mass timber construction projects. While I was there, I learned that the movement began in earnest when government agencies at all levels made a concerted effort to use wood in buildings because of its unique sustainability features.

In an effort to be more sustainable, government officials showed preference for cross-laminated timber for the buildings over which they had jurisdiction. At the time, a large percentage of the public buildings going up in Britain were schools, so scores of schools were built with wood.

In the process, those involved learned that wood buildings were not only superior from a sustainability aspect, but could also be constructed faster and less expensively than those built with traditional materials. Later, they found that student learning increased in these wood buildings, likely because of the innate affinity humans have for natural materials and daylight.

Environmentally superior, faster construction, less expensive to build and better learning environments. It doesn’t get much better than that.

So what’s all this have to do with Oregon? Last November, Oregonians collectively passed construction bonds in nine school districts totaling more than $1.4 billion. In May, another $1.5 billion in school construction bonds will likely be on the ballot. In all, there could be nearly $3 billion in school construction money made available across 15 Oregon school districts. Design teams and decision-makers in those districts will have multiple material options to choose from to renovate and build new schools – whether that be steel, concrete or wood.

One of these options comes from a renewable resource, requires very low energy to produce and stores carbon to the tune of nearly a ton of CO2 emissions offset for every cubic meter of material used. It offers nearly limitless design potential and can be used to create soothing spaces that enhance learning.

And since Oregon is the nation’s largest producer of this remarkable building material, its use helps provide family-wage earnings for some 60,000 Oregonians, many of them in rural communities that could use an economic boost.

Seems like a no-brainer to me.

Timm Locke

Director of Forest Products  

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