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Letter: Thinning in watershed

Gary Durheim re forest watersheds

Published on September 1, 2017 12:01AM

The front page article about thinning activities in the Astoria watershed reads like a press release submitted by a stenographer (“Astoria keeps close eye on timber in Bear Creek watershed,” The Daily Astorian, Aug. 29). The best part was the segment describing log truckers braking for the corners while heading out from the logging areas. One wonders if they used their turn signals once they reached the highway.

Since the article touches on the troubles experienced by the city of Rockaway Beach after the hills to the east were cut over, a brief discussion of fog drip seems timely. Conifers are very efficient at harvesting water from the moisture-laden marine air that we who live west of the coast range summits are blessed to enjoy. We are perched on the western edge of what was once a vast rain forest.

A forest by any name, public or privately held, industrial tree farms included, are all watersheds. Conifers take the moisture from the air and return the surplus to the soil to form the rivulets and streams from which most coastal towns get water. The older the trees, the greater the crown height, and the more efficient the forest will be in harvesting moisture. Plantation forestry surely must diminish water production. I know this, and I am not a plumber.

The article describes the Astoria watershed as 3,700 acres of dense forest where routine annual harvests are conducted, while stating less than 25 percent of the growth is harvested annually. What is meant by “growth”? If a full 25 percent of growth were harvested annually, would all merchantable timber be gone in four years?

If public lands are to be managed as a tree farm, then make public the forest acreage inventory by specie and more importantly, age class. These are facts that will never, ever, see the light of day on the industrial forest holdings which surround us. It is far likelier we will be charged for their water that runs from their hills.

The article implied the city of Astoria wasn’t in it for the money, but some things just don’t add up, and by coincidence the operation made just enough to buy a new fire truck and salt away the extra into a capital improvement fund. This affirms why all trees must fall: We do it for the money.

Gary Durheim

Cannon Beach


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