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Oregon's North Coast Forests & Salmon

Oregon's North Coast Forests are Some of our Last Salmon Strongholds

The many rivers and streams in Oregon's North Coast forests are especially important habitat for salmon and steelhead. The Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests are home to some of our favorite rivers: the Wilson, Salmonberry, Nehalem, Miami, Trask, and Kilchis, as well as the Tillamook and Nehalem bays. As the State plans for how these forests will be managed for the next seventy years, it's important they provide strong habitat and water quality protects for salmon.

A Habitat Conservation Plan to Protect Salmon in the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests

The Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) manages Oregon's state-owned forests to generate annual income to support rural counties and school districts by harvesting trees. In an effort to develop a long-term management strategy that allows timber harvest without causing additional risk to endangered fish and wildlife, including many salmon and steelhead runs, ODF is developing a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). The draft HCP uses a balanced approach of conservation and harvest: giving the timber industry a reliable wood supply, sustained employment, and guaranteed annual harvests while also protecting rivers and streams, steep slopes and other important fish and wildlife habitat.

The HCP covers almost 85% of the State's forest land, roughly 640,000 acres in Tillamook, Clatsop, Santiam, and Washington counties. Currently, the draft HCP protects nearly half of that area in Habitat Conservation and Riparian Conservation Areas, while the other half remains open for timber harvest, balancing the often competing interests, providing long-term certainty for rural communities and endangered fish, and reducing overall conflict.

In the remaining plan area outside of the HCAs and RCAs, the State will be able to harvest timber, plant trees, spray pesticides and fertilizers, build and obliterate roads, mine quarries, manage fire, and operate outdoor recreation facilities.

What Would the Plan Mean for Salmon and Steelhead?

Protected Areas

It designates 43% (273,000 acres) of the permit area as Habitat Conservation Areas (HCAs) and an additional 12% (77,000 acres) of the area as Riparian Conservation Areas (RCAs). These areas have limited forest operations to improve landscape connectivity by protecting forests and stream habitat for endangered species.

Stream Buffers

The plan includes larger buffers to protect streams than we have seen in other plans: 120-feet on each side of a stream and in these areas, harvest is restricted to reduce the risk of sediment washing into the rivers and the stream bank eroding. It also increases shade along the stream, reducing water temperatures and providing resting spots for salmon.

Habitat Improvements

The Plan establishes a Conservation Fund to support aquatic habitat improvement projects throughout the area over the coming 70 years, including improving fish passage, restoring rivers and streams, and removing roads.

Equipment Restrictions

The plan identifies equipment restrictions zones that prohibit any ground equipment within 35 feet of rivers and seasonal streams.
Western Oregon State Forest HCP - Habitat Conservation Areas, Astoria, Forest Grove, and Tillamook Districts. Map by ICF.