Proposed timber sales strive for 'ecological logging'

Proposed timber sales strive for 'ecological logging'

MARCOLA, Ore. - Can public land managers ramp up the timber harvest just a bit, improve conditions for wildlife and avoid acres upon acres of clearcuts?

A professor from Oregon State University thinks he's found a compromise.

"This is different than the old days, let me tell you," said Norm Johnson, a forestry professor who advocates what he calls "ecological forestry."

"We're trying to harvest trees in a way that reflects natural processes, the way these forests naturally develop," he said.

Johnson showed KVAL News around a proposed timber sale northwest of Marcola known as "Second Show," one of 6 test sales on federal land in Western Oregon.

Johnson said ecological forestry uses interspersed timber cuts to create openings in the forest while preserving areas of older trees.

"You won't look across 100 acres and see a clearcut," he said. "You'll see openings and then patches of trees."

Conservationists beg to differ and say a clearcut is a clearcut.

"Sort of shaggy clearcuts with patches of trees left that are not cut, but mostly clearcut," said Doug Heiken with Oregon Wild. "The best use for these older forests is to continue on the path and grow into healthy old growth."

It's going to take a few more years before Johnson's new forestry idea can be put to the test. The Second Show sale won't go to bid until 2014. Logging may not happen for another 3 years after that.