Protecting Watersheds in Oregon's State Forests


Photo by Carla Hervert


State forests are highly valued as wildlife habitat, protection of viable watersheds for fish and drinking water, and places to hike, camp, fish, picnic or seek peace and quiet. Yet, the Oregon Department of Forestry manages our public state forests more like industrial timber tracts rather than for healthy ecosystems. Oregonians are deeply concerned about the practice of steep-slope clear cuts near salmon habitat streams and drinking water sources and spraying pesticides on clear cuts. Pesticides do not stay in one place. Toxic residues can travel for miles as vapors or droplets on wind currents. Pesticides known to harm people and fish can make their way into streams from run-off and deposition. Our state forests should be managed sustainably for carbon storage, clean rivers and streams, wildlife habitat and diverse tree and plant ecosystems.

Beyond Toxics has worked directly with impacted communities who believe that the Oregon Department of Forestry is not doing enough to protect their drinking water sources, their air and the forest ecosystem that rural economies depend upon. Neither is the Agency doing enough to prevent erosion, landslides and ecosystem decline. We involve rural communities to work with us gathering the necessary data, mapping and analysis to make the case for forest management that prioritizes clean water, carbon storage and drawdown, safe communities and vibrant ecosystems for the next generations of Oregonians.


Beyond Toxics Testimony to the Board of Forestry (9/8/21) - PDF

Beyond Toxics used the state's Forest Activity Electronic Reporting and Notifications System (FERNS) to find and analyze all herbicide sprays on state forests from 1/1/2020 through 8/30/2021. We presented our initial findings to the Board of Forestry on September 8th. We found that 34% of all sprays were performed by helicopter as aerial herbicide sprays in those 20 months. We also found that, on average, 4-6 ingredients are combined in one tank mix and applied to state forest lands, despite the lack of research showing that such chemical concoctions are safe to spray in watersheds or wildlife habitat areas. The presentation was accompanied by a request to place a 2-year moratorium on aerial pesticide sprays and initiate a comprehensive analysis of the impacts of aerial pesticide spray to watershed, community, and environmental health. Over 200 Oregonians submitted comments to the Board of Forestry sharing these concerns and supporting our request.

September 8th Board of Forestry meeting - YouTube video: