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Frequently Asked Questions

•   Why a Douglas-fir National Monument?

National parks or national monuments have been established specifically to protect outstanding examples of iconic tree or tree-like species. Redwood National Park (1968) was established to protect some of the last old-growth coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) forests on Earth. Yosemite (1890) and Kings Canyon (1940) national parks were established in part to conserve the giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum), as was the Sequoia National Monument (2000). The Joshua Tree (1936) and Sauguaro (1933) national parks were established to conserve and enjoy tree-like cacti (Yucca brevifolia and Carnegiea gigantea). The Big Cypress National Preserve (1974) was similarly established for the bald cypress (Taxodium distichum). The Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) is comparably iconic and can rival the size of coast redwood. It too, deserves protection.

•  At  487,491 acres why is the proposed Douglas-fir National Monument so big?
The goal of creating a new national monument to the Douglas-fir forest is not merely to preserve the scattered fragments of older forest that remain today, but to restore ecological and hydrological integrity to a region that has undergone profound alteration since large-scale industrial logging began after World War II. Some excellent groves of ancient Douglas-fir forest are permanently protected in places like the Middle Santiam and Mount Jefferson Wildernesses. However, most of the older Douglas-fir forest stands in the area could be subject to clearcutting.

•  Aren’t enough Old Growth forests already protected?
Most forests dominated by Douglas-fir have been clearcut and converted to plantations where the trees are all of similar species, height, diameter and spacing. These plantations are generally biological deserts more akin to a cornfield than a forest.

Most of these Douglas-fir forests were mature and old-growth stands. The old-growth stand condition lasted hundreds and hundreds of years until a major natural disturbance event such as fire, wind, insects and/or disease reset the ecologically complex old forest to an even more ecologically—but relatively short-lived—complex of early seral forest. This “snag forest” or “pre-forest” eventually reestablished itself with conifers and the young forest progressed into mature forest and then old-growth forest.

If we want to have a functioning Douglas-fir ecosystem across the landscape and over time, we need to conserve all the old-growth forest that is left and restore much that has been lost.

•  Why now?
Just about a human generation ago, in 1989, approximately three square miles per week of old-growth forest were being clearcut on federal public land in Oregon. Today, while logging is but a small fraction of that historically high and ecologically devastating level, we should do what is best for the next generation.

There are number of economic, social, demographic and other trends that argue that the highest and best use of forests is no longer logging to create wood products and jobs. The timber industry has lost its social license to log native forest and trees on federal public forestlands just to feed the appetite of its mills. The best thing we can do is give our heirs the legacy that includes the conservation of large landscapes for ecological and watershed integrity and for recreational (pronounced “re-creational”) enjoyment. They will appreciate our foresight and action today as we appreciate those of our ancestors who established the national parks, national monuments, wilderness and other strong and enduring conservation areas.

•  Haven’t we protected enough of our natural areas?
The major conservation networks that are the National Park System, National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, National Wilderness Preservation System, National Landscape Conservation System, National Wildlife Refuge System, National Marine Sanctuary System and National Estuarine Resarch Reserve System are an important part of what makes America great. These conservation systems are incomplete. Establishing a Douglas-Fir National Monument would be an important contribution to the conservation, restoration and appreciation of nature for this and future generations.

•  Why in Oregon?
Oregon is central to the range of the Douglas-fir. Oregon is becoming more populated and the population is increasingly in urban and suburban settings. Natural recreation opportunities are and will likely continue to become increasingly important.

• Why in Linn and Marion Counties, Oregon?

Local communities and their economies are changing. Their future, like all futures, is uncertain. It is very likely that—due primarily to economic but also political forces—the traditional timber industry in eastern Marion and eastern Linn counties will continue its decades-long contraction.

A national monument will draw not only tourists who will spend money in the local communities, but also small, and perhaps large, businesses who can locate anywhere. They often choose to locate near permanently protected landscapes that the owners and their employees can enjoy. Economists refer to this as the “second paycheck.” One can make more money working and living in (Cleveland, Dallas or nearly anywhere else), but natural and recreational amenities we have here contribute to the quality of life.

  • How would the Douglas-fir National Monument be created?

A national monument is defined as a historic site or geographical area set aside by a national government and maintained for public use.

Most national monuments in the United States have been proclaimed by the President under authority granted by Congress, specifically the Antiquities Act of 1906 to protect objects of historic or scientific interest. Every president since Theodore Roosevelt—save for Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush—have proclaimed or expanded national monuments.

Under the Antiquities Act, the proclamation only applies to federal public lands within a national monument boundary.

Less common are national monuments established by an Act of Congress. Whether legislated by Congress or proclaimed by a president using power delegated by Congress, national monuments are constitutional under the United States Constitution’s Property Clause (Article IV, Section 3, Clause 2).

Oregon has three national monuments and one “national volcanic monument”:

• Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve. The national monument (480 acres) was proclaimed by President Taft in 1909 and the preserve (4,154 acres) that surrounds the monument was established by Congress in 2014 for a total of 4,234 acres).

• John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. This 3-unit national monument was established by Congress in 1974, totals 14,000 acres, in Wheeler and Grant counties and is administered by the National Park Service.

• Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. President Clinton proclaimed a ~53,000-acre national monument in 2000, administered by the Bureau of Land Management in Jackson County. Since that time over 13,000 acres of undeveloped private lands within the outer monument boundary have been acquired from willing sellers and become part of the national monument.

• Newbery National Volcanic Monument. Established by Congress in 1990, the national volcanic monument is 55,500 acres in size and is administered as part of the Deschutes National Forest in Deschutes County.

The Friends of the Douglas-fir National Monument’s preference is for Congress to establish the Douglas-fir National Monument. In this way, Congress could at the same time, also expand and establish new wilderness areas and wild and scenic rivers within the national monument.

If the Douglas-fir National Monument is established by presidential proclamation, no new wilderness or wild and scenic rivers would come along as those designations can only be established by an Act of Congress. Afterwards, we could continue to advocate for wilderness and wild and scenic rivers.

  • What about wilderness areas?

Existing wilderness areas within the Monument, such as the Middle Santiam, Menagerie and a portion of the Mt. Jefferson Wildernesses, would remain protected as they are. For possible new wilderness areas, such as Gordon Meadows or Iron Mountain, or new Wild and Scenic River designation, such as Moose Creek, see “How would the Douglas-fir National Monument be created?”, above.

•  Why propose a project that will generate controversy?
If every one agrees it ought to be done, it has probably already been done. There will be local people and local interests who will oppose a Douglas-fir National Monument. Some prefer the status quo, or even a return to the logging levels of the past. The problem is that the status quo isn’t static or stable. History has also shown that returning to the status quo is even more unlikely.

Most of what are today our beloved national parks, monuments, wildernesses, wildlife refuges, wild and scenic rivers and other federal conservation designations were highly controversial at the time of their establishment and the opposition was most entrenched the closer to the area. Most locals opposed the original establishment of Oregon’s only National Park, Crater Lake. Locals even initially opposed protection of the Grand Canyon in Arizona., a state that now calls itself “the Grand Canyon State.”

When there is a trade-off between short-term economic interests and long-term national interests, the latter should prevail.

• Doesn’t America need the lumber and other wood products from federal public        forestlands?
More raw log volume cut on private land in Oregon and Washington is exported to Japan, China and Korea than is cut off of federal public lands in those two states. Most logs in Oregon come from non-federal lands.

•   Don't we need the logging jobs on Forest Service lands?

Since the Northwest Forest Plan was implemented, the number of mills and milling jobs has decreased by half, while the milling capacity of the remaining mills increased by one quarter. Automation replaced the lost jobs and more. The remaining jobs that used to pay more than the Oregon median income now pay less.

•   Don’t the counties need the revenues from federal timber sales?
The counties’ share of federal timber receipts prior to 1990 were dependent upon logging a very large amount of very large trees. That large amount of timber was bound to run out. For nearly 25 years now, the federal government has directly given monies to the counties. These timber counties have some of the lowest property tax rates in the nation. The solution to county funding woes is for the three levels of government (federal, state and county) to all do their fair shares.

•   Isn’t clearcut logging good for fish and wildlife?
No. Clearcut logging and associated logging roads cause erosion that reduces water quality and therefore the number of fish. Thousands of species of wildlife find homes in the habitats provided by complex very large and very old stands of forests. The massive logging of forests is contributing to the endangerment of numerous species.

•   Without timber management,  (primarily by clearcutting) won’t the forest burn up and/or die off?
A forest fire is either the beginning of a new forest or the continuation of the current forest. Fire (and wind and native insects and native diseases) are natural disturbance events that are beneficial to fish and wildlife, and to ecological and watershed function. For instance, salvage logging after a fire removes essential wood mass needed for the forest to recover. There is no ecological or hydrological benefit to doing so.

•   Won’t a National Monument designation “lock out” most users?
The majority of the proposed national monument is already readily accessible by road. That won’t change. Some has been established as Wilderness or consists of roadless areas where there never were roads. While it is proposed that unnecessary roads be decommissioned for the benefit of watersheds, wildlife and the federal taxpayer, it is also proposed that the remaining roads be improved for the benefit if public safety and enjoyment and for the proper administration of the area. Both treatments of roads would create jobs in the woods. The costs of maintaining such vast amounts of little used roads that went to every old clearcut are huge and an unnecessary expense.

•  Don’t local people know best how to manage the land?
When profits, wages or life styles are dependent upon logging, “locals” have a conflict of interest and their views must be examined for bias. “Local” management led to the vast roading and logging of forests and watersheds to the detriment of water quality, fish, wildlife, recreation and scenery.

•  Isn’t a National Monument unnecessary since inappropriate logging is thing of the past?
We would like to think so, but logging practices can and do change in the winds of political change. Monument designation specifying restoration forestry will go a long way to make sure old practices don’t return.

•   Isn’t salvage logging a thing of the past?
While salvage logging after a natural disturbance is somewhat less likely to happen than in the past, it is still a major threat to forest and watershed integrity.

•   How can a future Presidential administration, hostile to conservation, succeed in the large-scale resumption of inappropriate logging?
The Northwest Forest Plan was implemented during the Clinton Administration. The ecological, legal and political crisis was provoked by the Reagan Administration and amplified by the George H.W. Bush Administration. Even the Obama Administration has been trying to weaken the Northwest Forest Plan.

•   Don’t administrative land allocations and overlays preclude inappropriate logging?
The Northwest Forest Plan was affirmed by actions of the courts, the White House and the scientific community. In spite of that, land management agencies (US Forest Service and the BLM) resist having their management discretion limited and they have worked to undercut the Northwest Forest Plan. BLM is well along the way in eroding its portion of the Northwest Forest Plan and the Forest Service has plans to do so also.

•    Isn’t plantation logging beneficial for nature and for wood production?
It depends upon the kind of logging in the plantations. Most conservationists (including Friends of Douglas-fir National Monument) support scientifically sound ecological restoration thinning with appropriate requirements that protect streams, dense-forest dependent species and other resource values that put the timber plot on a path to becoming more biologically diverse. Such logging results in a very significant amount of commercial timber volume produced, but it is a byproduct of silvicultural management.
Most conservationists do not support “variable retention regeneration harvest” (“sloppy clearcut”) in plantations.

There is no shortage of early seral forest habitat on non-federal forestlands due to continued wide-scale clearcutting.

•   Aren’t there already enough National Monuments, National Parks and Wilderness Areas in Oregon that contain Douglas-fir forests?
In Oregon, low elevation old growth forests are in short supply. There are some Wilderness areas with magnificent stands dominated by low-elevation old-growth Douglas-fir (e.g. Drift Creek, Middle Santiam, Opal Creek, Salmon-Huckleberry, Boulder Creek). But these Wilderness Areas are relatively small.
 
A Douglas-fir National Monument would help make up for that deficit.