By Dave Sweitzer, Secretary/Manager, Western Hardwood Association

As my wife and I prepared to evacuate our Stevenson, WA property with 25 animals because of the Eagle Creek Fire across the Columbia River in Cascade Locks, OR, we became hot over the lack of management of our forests. We watched the fire grow and progress up the Columbia Gorge lighting up the evening skies.

For decades, the forest products industry has advocated for selective logging, cleaning the forest floor of fire starter debris, and replanting seedlings. I applaud US Rep Greg Walden’s House Resolution 3715 which calls for fast-tracked salvage logging in the burned areas of the Gorge, with the idea of removing burned and damaged trees and quickly replanting the area afterward. Walden said on the House floor, “year after year after year after year we have these catastrophic wildfires on federal lands, some of which have been set aside and managed in a way that they have no management”.

Too bad the naysayers (Friends of the Columbia Gorge) headquartered in Portland don’t see the benefits of salvage logging. They seem to think any entry into the forest, other than recreational, is detrimental to the forest recovery. The facts do not support their claim. In fact, whether logged or unlogged, researchers find there is not much difference in forest plant regeneration after a wildfire. The findings were the result of more than a decade of studying plant regeneration after the 2002 Cone Fire in California.

Salvage logging, cleaning the forest floor, and replanting will rejuvenate the forest and provide forests for our grandkids and their grandkids. Now is the time to contact your representative and suggest they support House Resolution 3715. If we don’t start managing our federal and state forest, we won’t have any forest to manage in the future.