Lots of clear-cut forests near Eugene

Lots of clear-cut forests near Eugene


By Chuck Woodbury

rsj-logoI was poking around on Google Earth today, checking out the road between Eugene and Florence, Oregon. At first, I didn’t think much of all the brown spots on the satellite view of the thick forest. Then it hit me! These were areas where the forest had been clear-cut by loggers.

Clear-cut logging takes every tree. There is nothing left, as you can see in the photo. Clear-cutting is controversial. Loggers say it’s important to create certain types of forest ecosystems and to promote select species that require an abundance of sunlight or grow in large, even-age stands. Clear-cutting is also a way to create farmland.

Clear cut area near Eugene, Oregon. Photo by Calibas from Wikipedia Commons.

Environmentalists criticize clear-cutting as destructive to water, soil, wildlife and atmosphere, and recommend the use of sustainable alternatives. According to Wikipedia, “clear-cutting has a very big impact on the water cycle. Trees hold water and topsoil. Clear-cutting in forests removes the trees which would otherwise have been transpiring large volumes of water and also physically damages the grasses, mosses, lichens, and ferns populating the under story.”

Clear-cut areas are replanted. Twenty years later the trees may be 30 or 40 feet tall. But you can tell these “farmed” forests: The trees look like big bushes, sometimes in rows if you look closely. They are not as beautiful or inviting as a natural forest.

To me, clear-cutting is just plain ugly. U.S. 101 through Washington’s Olympic Peninsula goes right through many clear-cuts. Every time I drive this road I recall when I spent two days on assignment in Mount St. Helen’s red zone a few months after the volcano’s eruption, when the forest was blown away or leveled by the force of the blast. Some clear-cut forests look much the same.

There’s a lot more to this story, and I am no expert. So, just saying. . .





4 thoughts on “Lots of clear-cut forests near Eugene

  1. Jim Buske

    My wife & I drove Hwy 101 from California to Northern Washington and saw signs along right of ways where there were trees about 6′ to 8′ tall stating “These trees were planted maybe 10 years ago” A bit further on we saw the same sign, only these trees were 20′ to 30′ tall and the sign said that the trees were planted maybe 20 years before.

    The point is that trees (old growth being an exception) are a renewable resource. Of course sometimes harvesting these can be done better but to condemn all clear cutting is narrow minded and not necessary. The new growth certainly did not look ugly to us. Perhaps out East the trees planted were hardwoods. If so, certainly they grow slower. The trees we saw were all Pine.
    J. Buske

    1. William Fouste

      Old growth is also “renewable”!

      It is just a far longer cycle than our human life spans. About 1000 years for old growth redwoods, 500 years for old growth Douglas Fir.

      The Acropolis in Greece is 2,500 years old and parts are still there. We humans could allow some forests to regrow into old growth again, if we desire.

      I hope our descendants will still be able to see the living old growth forests preserved here, on the west coast of North America.

  2. Calvin Rittenhouse

    I have seen clear-cut land, primarily in smaller tracts here in the East. It’s just as ugly, but smaller in area. I’m one of those “greener than thou” people who would limit logging to sustainable practices regardless of the price of lumber and put timber cutters to work in earth-friendly jobs. Maybe if we had less lumber to build developments, we’d do a better jobs with all the sound housing that stands empty in this country.

  3. Pete D

    Having lived on the east coast all my life, I had no idea what everyone was upset about when it came to logging on the west coast.

    When I traveled 101 a few years ago, I was shocked to see thousands of acres of tree stumps. I remember one mountain that had been clear cut but they left one tall tree at the top. It was like it was giving the world the finger.

    The clear cutting on my side of the country happened long before I was born but it happened nevertheless. It has taken generations for it to grow back. There are even small areas of virgin forest. I can think of one in western Pennsylvania. It is a grand place. Time heals all wounds, they say. But the wounds of clear cutting won’t be healed until long after all of us are gone. Today I am happy that some people had the foresight to say we need to save that.

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