Foresters: Clearcuts have a home in Oregon

NOTI, Ore. - The side of the mountain, scraped clean of trees, is a shocking snapshot - but it doesn't provide a clear picture of forest management practices, foresters from the Oregon Department of Forestry said Friday.

What tourists walking past the Oregon Wild-sponsored sign at the Eugene Airport may not know is that if they look at that clearcut site years later, new trees will be planted there, they said.

"We just wanted to draw attention to the dichotomy between our reality and the perception of how green Oregon really is," said Oregon Wild field coordinator Chandra Legue.

The ad campaign opposes legislation that Legue said would privatize 1.6 million acres of Oregon forestland and increase clearcutting.

Forest managers told our news team that clearcutting mimics the natural cycle of trees because they regrow in patches of sun not shaded by larger trees, and all those new trees are in the same age group.

"So that same picture taken 2 years later, you'll see trees on the ground and a young forest off to the races to grow up again," said Smith, a member of the Oregon Department of Forestry for Western Lane.

Smith said that for every acre logged, between 350-450 trees are replanted.

"You can see that if you drive from here to the coast... you'll see large tracks of old growth, you'll see fresh tracks of cut harvest and you'll see regeneration forests," Smith said.

Oregon Wild stands by its criticism of forest management practices, saying a trust proposed for the O&C forest lands in Western Oregon isn't in the best interest of the state's growing tourism sector.

The environmental group also said replanting one species of tree that are all the same age doesn't create the biodiversity that contributes to overall ecosystem health.

This is a developing story. Watch your local TV news and this website for more on this story