An understanding of lands and resources in the AMA, how they got to their present condition, and how they are presently being used will help to identify realistic opportunities and limitations for future management of the area. This information is described in greater detail in the various assessments being prepared for the AMA.
TO CONTENTS PAGE
Physical and Biological Environment
Topography and climate
The Coast Range within the AMA parallels the coast in a band about 35
miles wide. The ridges rise from sea level to a little over 3,000 feet
in elevation. Some areas are very steep and unstable, but most of the AMA
is characterized by moderate slopes and gentle, rolling uplands, with deep,
fertile soils, mild temperatures, and abundant rainfall (from less than
40 to more than 200 inches per year). These are ideal conditions for growth
of forest trees; in fact, forests on the north coast are considered by
many investigators to be the most productive in the world (Fujimora,
1971; Agee, 1993). This exceptionally
high productivity is coupled with high resiliency compared to forests in
colder climates located farther north, at higher elevations, or inland,
where growing seasons are shorter and soils generally shallower and less
fertile. Most upland forest areas have the capacity to recover their site
productivity (i.e., biomass production) quickly following disturbances
such as repeated stand-replacing wildfires or timber harvest. The high
productivity may also mean that the system has the potential to provide,
over time, both abundant wildlife habitat (in terms of forest cover, snags
and large woody debris), recreational opportunities, and a sustainable
output of commodities.
Vegetation, disturbances, and age-class patterns
Species: Conifer forest is the dominant vegetation type in the AMA. Near the beaches, shore pine, Sitka spruce, and western hemlock are tolerant of the frequent high winds and salt spray of exposed locations. Where tree cover is scattered, thickets of salal make cross-country travel almost impossible for humans. A short distance inland, shore pine disappears, and occasional Douglas-fir trees make their appearance among stands of spruce, hemlock, and cedar. Where the overstory is not closed, understories of dense brush, including sword fern, salmonberry, and elderberry are common. Further inland, in what is called the Western Hemlock Zone, Douglas-fir forms almost pure stands in the northern portion of the AMA, but is more mixed with western hemlock and western redcedar to the south. Beneath the canopy and in openings, vine maple, salal, and Oregon grape are common shrubs.
Throughout the AMA, stands of red alder occupy areas of moist or unstable
ground, low-lying ground adjacent to streams and bogs, and disturbed areas
where mineral soil was exposed by human activity or natural events. Red
alder with a salmonberry understory is now the dominant vegetation type
in many areas that were cleared by early-day logging, homesteading, repeated
fire, landslides, or floods. Other hardwoods include bigleaf maple, common
on many streamside terraces and on the lower eastern slopes, black cottonwood
in the river valleys, and Oregon white oak on dry foothills on the Willamette
Disturbances and age classes: The dominance of Douglas-fir in the western hemlock zone is largely due to disturbance, primarily by fire, over a period of many centuries (Agee 1993). In the moist western hemlock forests of the Coast Range, most forests consist of first-generation postfire forests less than 750 years old. This would suggest a fire-return interval less than 750 years. A regional average fire-return interval for the Douglas-fir zone has been estimated at 230 years, based on an analysis of 1930's forest survey records (Fahnestock and Agee 1983). However, the notion of a fire cycle, or a return interval of regular frequency, is not as meaningful on the north coast as in drier forest types, where there seems to be a roughly cyclic occurrence of fire. Episodic is a better descriptor of fire-return intervals in these forests (Agee 1993). Fires do not occur often in north coast forests, but when they do they tend to be severe, stand-replacing events.
How much did Native American burning contribute to past wildfires? Sauter and Johnson (1974) noted that large areas of brush and small trees were burned away each year by local tribes to clear the land for easier hunting and travel. This cleared land also provided new browse each spring to attract deer and elk. Morris (1934) first documented accounts of large historical fires in the Pacific Northwest. Coastal Oregon tribes were the victims of some of these fires, having been driven to the Pacific Ocean to survive. Oregon tribes of the northern coast were reported to burn Neahkahnie Mountain and the hills near the present site of Bay City every spring to stimulate browse and attract deer and elk (Sauter and Johnson 1974). Agee (1991), however, points out that although Native Americans have been implicated in anecdotal accounts as the source for some fires, the evidence is not convincing for widespread aboriginal burning in Oregon forests.
Morris (1934) stated that in western
Oregon approximately seven times as much land was burned from 1845 to 1855
as in any of the three previous decades. He attributed this increase in
deforestation to fires caused by European settlers. Lightning-caused fires
in the north coast are rare, because lightning storms occur only occasionally
in this area, and they are usually accompanied by enough rainfall to extinguish
any fires. There is no record of large wildfires in the Oregon Coast Range
resulting from lightning between 1770 and 1993 (Zybach
1993). Whatever the cause, large fires are clearly part of the historic
record for the North Coast, often spreading over several hundred thousand
acres. Prominent examples are the 1840 and 1880 Nestucca fires, the 1910
Mt. Hebo fire, and the Tillamook fires of 1933, 1939, 1945, and 1951.
How much of the north coast supported old-growth forest prior to European settlement?
We don't know for sure, but Booth (1991) estimated that 61% of western Oregon's forests were old-growth before European settlers began logging. Most estimates of old growth for the Coast Range closely agree with the Teensma et al. (1991) estimate that 40% of the Coast Range forests were over 200 years old in 1850. Teensma also estimated that 34.5% of the Coast Range forests burned in the late 1840's. Using the Teensma data, it can be concluded that approximately 61% of Coast Range forests were over 200 years old before the 1840's fires, which would equate to a 406-year fire cycle (Agee 1993). Ripple (1994) states that the amount of old growth in the Coast Range was approximately 43% based on the 1933 forest survey, and 61% before the great fires of the late 1840s. Figure 2 shows the estimated distribution of old-growth forest in the Coast Province in 1850, from Teensma (1991). Note the recent Nestucca Burn area, west of McMinnville, and the large block of old forest northeast of Tillamook.
How much old-growth forest is left? Because of the history of large fires and timber harvest, old-growth forests are rare in the AMA today. Conifer plantations from 1 to 30 years old are distributed over much of the AMA's federal lands. Between the plantations are remnant blocks of mature conifer forest or stands of red alder, ranging mostly from 60 to 110 years old in the north, and up to 150 years old in the south. Occasional residual old-growth trees are scattered throughout these younger stands. The Nestucca Watershed Analysis contains an estimate that less than 2% of the land in that drainage now supports old-growth forest.
A small patch of old-growth forest (less than 10 acres) is located between Bear Creek and Elk Creek in the Nestucca River watershed. This stand is visited often during ecosystem management tours conducted by the AMA management staff. Scattered residual old-growth trees are mixed with stands 100 to 150 years old in the High Peak-Moon Creek Research Natural Area, between the Nestucca River and East Beaver Creek. Farther south, several blocks of old-growth Douglas-fir and hemlock, intermixed with young plantations, remain on AMA lands in the headwaters of the North Fork of the Siletz River and Warnick Creek, including the area designated by BLM as "Valley of the Giants." A largely unroaded area with mature forest stands and remnant old growth is on National Forest lands near Drift Creek and several tributaries to the lower Siletz River.
Several areas of federal land in the AMA are still largely unroaded
and unharvested. One of these areas is the north and east slope of Mount
Hebo, in the upper drainages of Tony and Powder Creeks. These areas support
60- to 70-year-old stands of Douglas-fir and red alder.
Disease and insects
Forest stands in the north coast area are remarkably free of damage from disease pathogens and damaging insects, particularly when compared to current conditions in central, eastern, and southern Oregon forests. However, several root-disease fungi are active in the AMA. The most significant is Phellinus weirii, which causes laminated root rot. The disease infects the roots and lower bole of conifers such as Douglas-fir, western hemlock, and grand fir. Spreading from root to root, it results in blowdown of large trees and mortality of small ones. Some scientists estimate that 15 to 30 percent of north coast forest stands are infected.
Most insect damage in the north coast forest results from activity of
the Douglas-fir bark beetle, Dendroctonus pseudotsugae, which tends
to attack individual trees that have been weakened by other factors. The
damage occasionally spreads over larger areas when beetle populations build
up in windthrown timber.
Terrestrial animals and birds
A variety of animal species are present in the AMA and are discussed briefly here: large animals such as blacktailed deer, Roosevelt elk, black bear, cougar, and bobcat; and small animals such as the northern flying squirrel, red tree vole, raccoon, opossum, porcupine, and several species of bats. Four of these bats are listed in the Northwest Forest Plan as "survey and manage" species: the silver-haired bat, the long-eared myotis, the fringed myotis, and the long-legged myotis.
Among birds, those with the most recent publicity in this area are the northern spotted owl and the marbled murrelet, both Federally listed as threatened species. Northern spotted owls have been observed in young and old forests, conifers and hardwoods, plantations and natural stands. However, most successful long-term residency and reproductive success has occurred in old-growth forests, or in younger forests with scattered large, old conifers. It is believed that most owls found in younger stands are passing through for hunting or dispersal. The spotted owl population within the Oregon Coast Range Province is extremely low and in a significant decline, according to the Recovery Plan for the Northern Spotted Owl (USDI 1992). Suitable habitat--especially nesting habitat--is very limited, poorly distributed, and highly fragmented. Owls are present at very low densities, with many pairs isolated from others by more than 10 miles (Nestucca Watershed Analysis 1994). Within the AMA, all critical habitat identified in the Recovery Plan is also designated as Late-Successional Reserve. Surveys for northern spotted owl have been conducted in the AMA since 1975.
The marbled murrelet is a seagoing bird which, in coastal Washington, Oregon, and Northern California, nests in the tops of large, old trees in coastal forests. Birds have been sighted more than 35 miles inland exhibiting nesting behavior. However, it is difficult to locate actual nests, since they are usually near the top of very large trees in dense stands, and the murrelets enter and leave the nest area at high speeds, usually early in the morning. Potential habitat for the murrelet is defined as (1) mature conifer forests, with or without an old-growth component, and old-growth forests; and (2) younger coniferous forests that contain remnant older trees with deformations or structure suitable for murrelet nesting. Suitable nesting structures are thought to be large, flat-topped, moss-covered limbs, or platforms resulting from forks or breaks in the main stem of the tree. Stands with these features are scarce in much of the AMA. Nests are usually located high in the canopy, but concealed by overhead branches so that the risk of predation on eggs or young (by crows, hawks, or other birds) is reduced.
Surveys for marbled murrelets have been conducted in the AMA area since 1989. Ocean conditions may have contributed to recent declines in the murrelet population. However, timber harvest in the Coast Range has caused a steady decrease in the amount of suitable nesting habitat available. The Late-Successional Reserves in the AMA have been designated as critical habitat for the marbled murrelet.
Bald eagles, Federally listed as a threatened species, are known to
nest and forage within the AMA. One pair or two pairs have nested in the
Elk Creek drainage, north of the Nestucca River, since the early 1950's
(Nestucca Watershed Analysis 1994).
Nesting activities have produced at least 15 fledglings from three known
nest sites since 1970. The last successful nesting occurred in 1982, though
eagles are still observed in the area. An Area of Critical Environmental
Concern (ACEC) encompassing 2,058 acres has been designated in the nest
area. Eagles forage in the vicinity of several of the bays and estuaries
in the AMA during all seasons of the year.
The rivers and streams in the AMA historically sustained robust runs of salmon and trout, composed of coho, chinook, and chum salmon, and steelhead and both resident and sea-run cutthroat trout. Other resident fish species include several species of lamprey, sucker, dace, and sculpins (Nestucca Watershed Analysis 1994). Populations of most of these species have declined substantially in the last several decades.
Information is not available for all major coastal streams in the AMA, but historical data gathered for the Nestucca River Watershed Analysis, a major drainage in the northern part of the AMA, may be taken as representative of trends for the AMA as a whole.
Estimates for the period 1923 to 1926 for the Nestucca River show an
annual harvest of about 219,000 pounds of chinook, 215,000 pounds of coho,
54,000 pounds of steelhead, and 18,000 pounds of chum Salmon. During the
late 1960's and early 1970's, the Nestucca annual catch of steelhead averaged
an estimated 13,400 fish. During the late 1980's and early 1990's that
harvest dropped to an estimated 2,600 fish. In-river harvest of all species
has remained at about 4,000 fish per year over the last 20 years, supported
almost exclusively by healthy runs of fall chinook salmon. In the 1920's,
coho spawners in the Nestucca averaged 75 fish per mile. By 1993, spawning
coho salmon had declined to an estimated 5 fish per mile.
Changing habitat: Salmon, steelhead, and cutthroat trout populations are naturally limited by changing habitat conditions, but are able to maintain viable populations by using a variety of life history strategies. For example, wild runs migrate at different times, thus lessening their vulnerability to severe habitat impacts. Natural causes of habitat change include stand-replacing fire, flood, mass movements (landslides, slumps, earthflows, etc.), drought, and adverse ocean conditions. The fish appear to be less well able to compensate for human-caused impacts. Human activities in the AMA that have impacted fish habitat in the lower watersheds include channelization, dams, dikes, destruction of riparian vegetation, and water pollution. Upper watershed problems are linked to channel simplification through stream cleaning, elimination of riparian conifers that formerly supplied large down wood, timber harvest, and road construction.
A particularly destructive and widespread practice early in this century
was "splash damming," a method of moving harvested logs downstream to waiting
mills. A dam composed of logs and debris was created, backing up large
amounts of water and logs that had been cut and dragged into the stream.
When the dam was broken free (probably using dynamite), the whole mass
of logs and water moved rapidly down the channel to a larger river or lake
or the ocean, obliterating downstream fish habitat and scouring stream
banks of vegetation.
Unique populations: Some parts of the AMA support unique and important fish populations:
Table 3. Salmon and steelhead stocks at risk in major AMA streams (Nehlsen et al. 1991)
||Siletz River||Salmon River||Nestucca River||Tillamook Bay
|Winter Steelhead Trout||Sea-Run
|Moderate Risk||Coho Salmon||Coho Salmon||Coho Salmon||Coho Salmon|
Evidence suggests that most riparian (streamside-influenced) areas in the AMA were forested in the past with a mix of hardwoods and conifers. Both groups are important to diversity of aquatic habitat. Hardwoods, in this area mostly red alder and bigleaf maple, provide shade, which lowers stream temperatures, and leaves and stems, which provide nutrients for aquatic organisms. Conifer species, including western red cedar, western hemlock, Sitka spruce, and Douglas-fir, also provide shade and some nutrients, but provide greater contributions to stream channel structure than do hardwoods. This results from the typically larger size of conifers, and their longer shelf life, i.e., resistance to rot.
Large conifers growing along streams or in unstable headwall areas may eventually fall into the stream channel or be transported there by landslides or debris torrents. Once in the channel, the logs provide hiding cover for adult fish and create quiet water areas where juvenile fish can find refuge from high flows. Conifer logs also act as scour agents for the creation of deep pools important to juvenile and adult fish. Furthermore, they help streams to retain and sort gravel from finer particles, making gravel more suitable for spawning.
Many upland riparian areas in the AMA are now dominated by red alder,
bigleaf maple, and various brush species. The lack of conifers along streams
in the uplands, and the resulting scarcity of large logs in streams, contribute
to simplified habitat, limiting many fish populations. In the lower portions
of watersheds, native riparian vegetation is often missing or severely
lacking alongside streams. This leads to increased bank erosion, reduces
floodplain function, and lowers water quality, all of which contribute
to poorer fish habitat and lower populations.
Social and Economic Environment
Human use evidenced in archaeological sites dates back at least 8,000 years along Oregon's coastal margin and to about 10,000 years on the Willamette Valley side of the Coast Range. Most of the coastal sites are very close to the ocean or at the edge of an estuary. The evidence suggests that human use was concentrated on the margins of today's AMA--along the ocean and Willamette Valley edge, where there were ample and readily available food and material resources for Indian inhabitants. The majority of the AMA, consisting of inland and upland Coast Range forests, apparently had little prehistoric use other than travel routes across the mountains and some dispersed hunting.
At the time of settlement by European immigrants (1820-1850), the AMA was within homelands of coastal tribes identified as the Tillamook, Nestucca, Siletz, and Yaquina Indians on the west, and Willamette Valley Kalapuya bands identified as the Tualatin, Yamhill, Luckiamute, and Marys River Indians on the east. While it is thought that the coastal people did not typically practice deliberate burning to manipulate vegetation or wildlife resources, the Willamette Valley people regularly set fire to the dry prairies. The fires were set to control brush, to maintain open land for camas production, and to promote the growth of seed plants important for human use and other browse species favored by deer.
Contact with European people resulted in exposure of the Indians to pandemic diseases, causing an estimated 70 to 80 percent population loss within little more than a decade (1829 to 1845). Indians were also greatly affected by the land uses of the settlers, including farming and grazing, restricted access to traditional use areas, and declines in native resources. In 1855, the Siletz Indian Reservation was established, encompassing a large area extending from Cape Lookout on the north to the Siltcoos River (near present-day Florence) on the south, and east as far as the line between Range 8 West and Range 9 West, about 15 to 20 miles from the coastline. Then in 1857, the Grand Ronde Reservation was established, a 60,000-acre area including most of the headwaters of the South Yamhill River. Indians from all over western Oregon, plus some from northern California, were moved to these reservations.
During the next 40 to 50 years, many areas were removed from the reservations and opened to homesteading or sale. An executive order in 1865 cut the Siletz reservation by 220,000 acres, and in 1875, an act of Congress reduced the reservation by another 700,000 acres. In 1887, the Dawes Severalty Act served to break up the reservations further by granting land allotments of 80 acres to each adult Indian and opening the remaining unallotted land to settlers. On the remaining Siletz reservation, only 551 natives received the 80-acre allotment, and in 1892, unallotted lands totalling 192,000 acres were purchased by the government for $0.74 per acre. Tribal status and the reservation were terminated in 1956, and the 7,900 acres remaining of the reservation were sold, except for 38 acres turned over to the city of Siletz.
On the Grand Ronde reservation, over 26,000 acres were not allotted because there were not enough Indians to lay claim to them. These lands were ceded to the government in 1904 and subsequently opened to white settlement. The Grand Ronde reservation was terminated by act of Congress in 1956 and the remaining tribal trust lands of 440 acres were sold.
Both tribal groups later successfully petitioned the government for
reinstatement of tribal status. In 1977, the Siletz tribes were granted
a reservation consisting of 3,630 acres in scattered parcels in the hills
near the lower Siletz River, and in 1988, the Grand Ronde tribes received
a reservation of 9,811 acres, mostly in a single block of land formerly
administered by the BLM, in the north part of the South Yamhill watershed.
These lands are now actively managed for production of timber and other
Historic human use
Lands in the AMA area were first visited by Europeans, and later Americans, from the sea. Spanish, English, Russian, and American ships on voyages of exploration and trading visited the northern Oregon coast, but only occasionally made landfall. Fur traders entered the area in the 1820's, but little record exists of their activity along the coast. The earliest settlements were established in the prairie areas of the Willamette Valley during the 1840s. The timbered areas of the Coast Range were seen as too remote and difficult to cultivate to be desirable homesteads.
Early settlement: The Tillamook Bay area was settled in the 1850's, but early development was slow. Because of the difficulty of travel across the Coast Range and the lack of safe, usable harbors, it was difficult to get supplies and products in and out of the coastal area.
As roads were constructed and the Indian reservations reduced in size, additional land was made available for settlement. The Homestead Act of 1862 stimulated greater in-migration, and after 1878, individuals began to make claims on higher elevation lands (above 1,000 feet) under the Timber and Stone Act. These claims were mostly taken up by people interested in logging, since the Coast Range, except for flat river terraces in some areas, proved to be largely unsuitable for farming. Much of the region had been declared "unsurveyed and unfit for cultivation" by early General Land Office (GLO) surveyors. Dense brush and trees made even flat lands difficult to clear for farming. When a large forest fire denuded the Nestucca area of brush and trees, it became more popular with settlers because the burned-over land was easily converted to cropland or pasture.
The Tillamook area early became a center of dairy farming. Because of the isolation of the coastal communities and the difficulty in transporting products to the population centers in the Willamette Valley, the farmers focused their attention on producing something which could be shipped without risk of spoilage. Thus, cheese factories began to open in many of the northern parts of the AMA area during the 1890s. The fishing industry also has an early beginning on the Oregon coast. Homesteading continued to play a role in development of land in the AMA until the 1930s. Many of the original homesteads were later acquired by logging companies, as the settlers found farming on the mountainous slopes too difficult to continue.
The depression of the 1930's brought more people into the woods. With
the loss of jobs, homes, farms, and finances, many people ended up squatting
on abandoned homesteads or unclaimed land, repairing existing structures
or building new ones and practicing subsistance living. Most of these residents
remained only a short time.
Transportation routes: From 1850 until the mid-1870s, settler trail systems ran along major drainages and ridgelines, often following Indian travel routes. A stage road was built in 1872 connecting Carlton on the valley side with Tillamook, via the Trask River drainage, and another stagecoach line ran from Salem to Tillamook via Grand Ronde and Hebo, following the current route of Highway 22.. In 1911 a railroad line was put into service between Hillsboro and Tillamook, and in 1918 another line was extended from Independence to Valsetz, in the center of the Coast Range. Additional highways to the coast were constructed in subsequent decades, following the canyons of the Wilson, Salmon, and Yaquina Rivers.
Today, Highway 101, the Coast Highway, serves as the primary north-south travel route; the majority of the population centers in the AMA are in or near this corridor. State Highway 47 and US 99W form a north-south route on the east side of the AMA. The major east-west travel routes include Highway 6 at the northern tip of the AMA, serving as the primary link to Portland; Highways 18 and 22, which link the central Willamette Valley to the coast, and Highway 20, which connects Newport and the southern Willamette Valley.
Demographics and employment
60,000 people live in the AMA area, according to the 1990 census. Most
(77%) of the population lives in rural areas and small communities. Coastal
counties are growing significantly, primarily due to people moving in,
and the average age of the population is increasing, as many retirees and
second-home buyers acquire homes on the coast. Nearly 60% of the population
in the AMA over 16 years of age was in the work force in 1990. As shown
in Fig. 3, employment is spread over a variety
of industries and services.
Interviews with a sample of AMA residents reveal that they most value such things as having a clean and safe environment, rural appearance, community pride, opportunities for outdoor recreation, and a friendly environment where one can count on neighbors to help in times of need. Most of those interviewed believed that:
AMA communities represent a wide range of viewpoints and concerns, but are linked by common issues relating to forest management and dependence on natural resources: forestry and wood products, dairies, commercial fishing, and tourism.
A community may be an organized or unorganized collection of residences or places of business--known as a community of place--or an identifiable group of people with common concerns--a community of interest.
A community of place represents a defined geographic area and population base that functions as a cohesive social and economic center, usually under some sort of unified governmental or leadership system. A community of place could be a county, city, town, or rural community. Examples are Lincoln County, the City of Newport, or an unincorporated rural community such as Blaine or Hebo. A community of place could also be represented by a Tribal Government such as the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community.
A community of interest may represent a wide variety of geographic areas or no geographic area at all. Such communities simply represent a shared interests or goals, and are generally coalitions of citizens who have agreed to share resources in the interest of advocating for a common goal or set of objectives. Examples are environmental organizations such as the Oregon Chapter of Sierra Club, trade organizations such as the Associated Oregon Loggers, and local intergovernmental organizations such as the Tillamook County Economic Development Council. Communities of interest also include organizations such as civic clubs, fraternal organizations, and local watershed councils.
A detailed list of communities of place and communities of interest within or associated with the AMA is presented in Appendix D.
Although Oregon's metropolitan areas have been able to transition from resource-dependent to high-tech manufacturing economies, rural Oregon communities continue to have a strong economic and social linkage to ecosystem management and resource production. However, rural Oregon derives more than economic stability from marketing of its natural resources. The social and cultural health of these communities is also directly related to long-term ecosystem management. Social well-being seems to be closely related to quality of employment, degree of social cohesion, and to the level of local empowerment (Beckly 1995).
Recreational uses and esthetic values
The north coast area attracts over 2 million visitors each year, and a substantial portion of them pursue recreational activities in AMA forests. Hunting, fishing, recreational driving, on and off the road--and perhaps firewood cutting--are the most popular recreational uses in the AMA. Highway 101 is one of the best known and most traveled bicycle corridors in Oregon.
The Oregon and California Railroad Act of 1866 provided for 3,700,000 acres in Oregon in alternate sections to go to the builder of a railroad line down the Willamette Valley to California (12,800 acres for each mile of track laid). The purposes of the grant were to provide financial resources for construction of the railroad and to encourage settlement of the area. The land grant was made on condition that the company sell the land in small tracts (no more than 160 acres each) to bonafide settlers, at a price of no more than $2.50 per acre. The Oregon and California Railroad Company began construction in 1869, and reached Roseburg in 1872. Because of the availability of free homesteads on public land and because much of the grant land was heavily forested and not suited to agriculture, the company had little success in selling land to settlers. The company eventually was forced into bankruptcy, and control of the railroad passed to the Southern Pacific, which completed the connection to California in 1887.
In the meantime, the railroad had deferred the taking of title to unsold grant lands until there was a market for the property, thus avoiding taxes. This kept those lands unavailable for acquisition by anyone else. On the request of the Oregon legislature, the federal government investigated and discovered that the terms of the O&C land grant had been violated. Litigated before the Supreme Court in 1915, the remaining unsold O&C grant lands, over 2,800,000 acres, were revested by Congress to the United States in 1916. Initially, these lands were managed by the General Land Office, and after 1946 by its successor, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The BLM still manages the O&C lands today, along with remaining unallocated federal lands, or "public domain." There are over 115,000 acres of O&C lands in the AMA, and nearly 18,000 acres of public domain.
The 1916 Revestment Act required that timber on the O&C lands be
sold at current market prices. In 1937, passage of the O&C Act established
the government's intention to retain the lands in federal ownership, and
specified that they be managed under principles of sustained yield, to
provide a permanent supply of timber, protect watersheds, regulate stream
flow, contribute to economic stability of local communities, and provide
recreational facilities. Under the terms of the act, fifty percent of timber
sale receipts are distributed to the eighteen Oregon counties having O&C
National Forest lands
In 1906, a large portion of the remaining federal lands in the AMA area were designated as a forest reserve. Because of the 19th-century fires, most of this land then supported only brushfields or small trees. The O&C lands were tied up in the railroad grant at that time, so they were not included in the reserve. The Coast Range forest reserve became, in 1908, the Siuslaw National Forest. Early Forest Service activities focused on developing a network of ranger stations, trails, and lookout towers, to help protect the forest against wildfire and unauthorized use. As road systems were developed, many of the original ranger stations were closed, and with the advent of aerial fire reconnaissance, most lookout towers also became an unnecessary expense and were removed.
Following the large Mt. Hebo fire of 1910, the Forest Service embarked
on an ambitious reforestation program. Thousands of acres were planted
and seeded, and much of the seed was derived from sources in the state
of Washington. This non-local, or "off-site" seed has produced a stand
with different characteristics and growth rates than stands regenerated
from local seed sources.
Federal land-use allocations
Although we've drawn an exterior boundary for the AMA--on watershed lines--several other land designations fall within that boundary, including Late-Successional Reserves, Riparian Reserves, Special Areas, and other administrative withdrawals. Major federal allocations are described as follows (Map 3):
Commodities, as used in this discussion, are products physically extracted
from forest lands in the AMA, producing economic returns and jobs from
marketing of the resource. Commodities include commercial timber and pulpwood;
posts and poles; firewood; transplants of native trees and shrubs; Christmas
trees and boughs; floral greens including ferns, salal, and mosses; mushrooms;
cascara bark; and other special forest products. Fish production is not
discussed under commodities because commercial fish harvest takes place
primarily outside AMA forest lands, in the bays and estuaries or offshore.
Sport fishing in AMA streams certainly generates jobs and income for local
communities, but the income derives from providing for the needs of those
coming to fish--which relates to recreation and tourism--rather than from
sale of the fish.
Commercial timber cutting began before 1900 in the AMA, at first in
the more accessible lower elevations. Because of extensive fires during
the late 1800s and early 1900s, the trees in some areas of the AMA were
generally too small to be considered for harvest until about 1960. Harvest
practices on the various types of ownership within the AMA are generally
Federal lands (20% of the AMA, much of it in large blocks, but also scattered tracts). From about 1960 to 1990, the federal agencies pursued a program of intensive road construction and timber management. Some large forest areas were commercially thinned, but most harvest took the form of clearcuts, which ranged from as little as 3 to 5 acres each up to more than 80 acres in some locations. Most commonly, the quantity of logging debris--limbs, tops, and cut brush--was reduced by burning the harvested units, creating room to plant from 400 to 800 conifer seedlings per acre. In the AMA, such clearcuts have been applied to nearly half the forest acres administered by the Bureau of Land Management and about one-fourth of the National Forest acres. Timber sales were for the most part suspended in 1990 following court actions, but have now resumed in the AMA, following the guidelines of the Northwest Forest Plan. Most harvest now takes the form of partial cuts or salvage of trees damaged by wind, fire, insects, or disease. Federal lands are shown on Map 1.
State forest lands (17% of the AMA, most of it in a large block). The Tillamook State Forest is located at the northern end of the AMA. Most of the Tillamook forest was burned one or more times between 1933 and 1951. As a result, trees on those areas have only recently become large enough for commercial thinning. State forest managers are developing a long-range plan for the forest using "structure-based management", which is designed to provide a range of habitat types and forest structures needed by native wildlife, while continuing to produce substantial timber and revenue. State forest lands are shown on Map 1.
Tribal forest lands (1% of the AMA). The Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community hold a reservation of almost 10,000 acres, nearly all in a single block located north of Grand Ronde and Valley Junction, near the center of the AMA. The Tribes completed a new management plan for natural resources on tribal lands in May of 1996. The plan prescribes an annual timber harvest of 5.7 million board feet, derived from commercial thinnings of stands between the ages of 25 and 60 years, and regeneration harvests at a minimum stand age of 70 years.
The Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Indians of Oregon have a reservation in the southern portion of the AMA amounting to almost 4,000 acres in scattered tracts of land near the lower Siletz River in Lincoln County. The Siletz Tribes also have an active timber management and land acquisition program. Tribal lands are shown on Map 1.
Industrial forest lands (38% of the AMA, a combination of large blocks and scattered tracts). Forest land owned by the large timber companies has mostly been cut over one to three times, generally on rotations of 40 to 60 years. These companies carry out intensive reforestation and young stand-management programs, including site preparation, hand planting, brush control, fertilization, precommercial thinning, and, more recently, pruning. Approximate holdings of the 8 largest industrial forest landowners are shown on Map 2.
Other public lands (1% of the AMA in scattered parcels). Includes state and county parks, and other county and city-owned forest lands.
Other private lands (23% of the AMA, consisting
of scattered tracts of forest, pasture, and developed communities).
Management of nonindustrial forest land varies widely. Some ownerships
are intensively managed to maximize timber yield or economic returns, and
others are managed lightly or not at all. Most such forest land has been
harvested one or more times in the past, and many tracts are today well
stocked with young timber. In some cases, reforestation success was limited,
and those lands currently support mixtures of hardwoods, conifers, and
brush, with a relatively low volume and dollar value per acre of standing
timber. There are substantial opportunities to increase timber yield on
these lands, where desired, through application of active forest management
practices. Very little mature or old-growth forest exists on nonindustrial
private holdings in the AMA.
Special forest products
Forest land of almost all ownership classes is used for harvest of special forest products, including firewood, moss, mushrooms, floral greens (such as ferns, salal, and beargrass), native plants, cascara bark, conifer boughs, nuts and seeds, and other non-timber resources. These products from federal forest lands are sold to the public on small sale permits. Though they were considered of minor importance in the past, demand for these products has increased dramatically in recent years, stimulated by increases in product value, more people interested in harvesting them, and expanding markets.
All of these special forest products are believed to be renewable, but we need to learn more about how much harvest would be sustainable over the long term, what methods of harvest are preferable, and what the effects of their harvest would be on other resources. In addition to needing more information, the agencies have problems with enforcing existing standards for collection and preventing unauthorized harvest. New approaches and uniform standards are needed to help meet growing demand while protecting the health and productivity of the system.
The Siuslaw National Forest is currently developing a program for long-term leases or stewardships for commercial use of special forest products. The "steward" for the long-term lease would have exclusive harvest rights within specific guidelines for a designated land area, and could either collect the products or issue harvest permits to others. The first leases issued will probably include all types of special forest products available on the permit area except firewood. As part of the lease agreement, the steward would perform tasks such as collecting preharvest data and conducting specified monitoring.
Commercial collection of mosses is presently one of the most controversial
special forest product programs in the AMA. The sustainability of the moss
resource itself is one issue, but another, more important one is to find
out what effects moss collection has on ecosystem functions and processes,
especially those of late-successional forests. To identify ways of monitoring
and evaluating the effects of moss collection, two studies have been initiated.
One focuses on moss regeneration rates after collection, and the other
on the amount of moss biomass growing on vine maple and shrubs of various
Mineral products account for a small share of the economic activity
on forest lands in the AMA. Many small rock quarries have been located
on upland areas on both public and private lands, to provide a source of
crushed rock for construction of forest roads. In several of the larger
river valleys on private lands, plants have been set up to extract and
process sand and gravel for use in making concrete and asphalt aggregate.