Forest Management Practices

Oregonians’ opinions about forest practices to maintain Oregon’s forests for environmental quality and/or economic benefits.

From November 10–19, 2022, the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center conducted a statewide survey of Oregonians’ values and beliefs about practices used to maintain the health of Oregon’s forests, for environmental quality and economic benefits. A description of the methodology used for the research is provided below.

The question numbers in this document correspond with the accompanying documents (Q1-62A). Due to rounding, the percentages reported below may not add to 100% or compare exactly to the percentages for the same question in the annotated questionnaire or tabs.

Included below for selected questions are noteworthy subgroup variations for BIPOC/white, age, urban/rural, education, gender, and households with and without children.

OVBC surveys currently use aggregated data to analyze the opinions of BIPOC residents in comparison to the opinions of residents who identify as white and not another race. BIPOC residents are not a monolith; the grouping represents a wide diversity of races and ethnicities. The findings included in this memo should not be construed such that all people of color are believed to share the same opinions. Disaggregated race data will be provided when sample sizes permit reliability.

For survey full question wording, all statistically significant subgroup findings, and respondent quotes, readers are encouraged to refer to the accompanying three documents: (1) annotated questionnaire, (2) crosstabulations document, and (3) verbatim written responses spreadsheet.

Oregon Values and Beliefs Center (OVBC): This research was completed as a community service by the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center. OVBC is an independent and non-partisan organization and an Oregon charitable nonprofit corporation. Representative OVBC projects include opinion research about race-based crimes for the Asian Health and Service Center, as well as research about early childhood education and the cost of childcare for the Children’s Institute.

Key Takeaways

Forest Practices

  • The vast majority of Oregonians—and especially those 30 and older—believe that commercial timber harvest plays a role in actively managing healthy forests.
  • While four in ten residents believe that, generally, there is too much logging in Oregon forests, far fewer believe there is too much logging in federal and state forests (about one in four).
  • At least six in ten residents accept a variety of forest management techniques, including thinning, prescribed burns, replanting, and retaining some old-growth trees during harvest.

Acceptability of Specific Forest Practices

  • Oregonians most prefer forestry practices that include lots of replanting and that leave some older trees in the forests even as younger trees are harvested (Q24–32A).

“’Tree plantations planted after clearing cutting’ was difficult to answer because I strongly disagree with clear cutting in the first place but do think that they should be replanted if it has to happen.”

Woman, age 30-44, Tillamook County, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander

“From my limited reading, I understand a healthy forest needs mixed sorts of trees, and cutting to leave sentinel trees and some remaining forest diversity is best.”

Woman, age 65-74, Clackamas County, White

“Plantation trees all tend to be the same species, from a small handful of sources; there’s little genetic diversity. They also are all the same age. A healthy forest is a varied forest.”

Man, age 45-54, Multnomah County, White

Logging/Harvesting

Oregonians are split as to whether forests are logged too often, the right amount, or not enough, but a plurality of four in ten say there is too much logging (Q1-Q1A).

  • More than half of urban residents, people under 30, and BIPOC residents believe forests in Oregon are logged too frequently.
  • Oregonians in rural or rural-changing-to-suburban communities are among the Oregonians most likely to say forests aren’t logged enough (about three in ten). Still, these community types are more likely to believe Oregon forests are logged too much.

“As long as trees are replanted. I understand how the trees provide an important renewable resource; I just hope the replanting is being done how they say it is.”

Woman, age 30-44, Yamhill County, Native American, American Indian, or Alaska Native

“Clear cutting should never be done. Selective logging for fire prevention is reasonable. Old growth harvesting NEVER.”

Woman, age 65-74, Hood River County, Hispanic/Latina/x

“I believe that logging is a good business if done sustainably. However, the companies in Oregon have not observed this and have destroyed valuable forested areas.”

Man, age 55-64, Multnomah County, Asian

“The worst part is the way they are being logged. Clear cuts are not the way to go; selective harvesting is needed and old growth forests need to be protected.”

Woman, age 18-29, Clackamas County, White

“It is a shame that year to year returns for investors rather than long term profit have guided such a large amount of the harvest into shorter rotation, smaller dimension being the norm.”

Man, age 30-44, Clatsop County, White

“Logging is necessary to help prevent wildfires and killing wildlife. It helps preserve wildlife so that we can enjoy it while respecting it for many generations to come.”

Woman, age 30-44, Clackamas County, Native American, American Indian, or Alaska Native

“People have a generally negative perception of logging because of environmentalists highlighting the clear cuts that were widespread years ago. The reality is people need and use wood products, that logging is dangerous and difficult but is also part of good land management.”

Man, age 45-54, Multnomah County, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander

Nearly half of residents believe that snags and logs should remain in forests after wildfires unless they pose a risk to safety (Q8).

  • Additionally, some Oregonians—about a quarter—say snags and logs should be salvaged even if there isn’t a safety risk.
  • About three in ten Oregonians who live in rural or rural-changing-to-suburban communities are supportive of additional logging by salvaging these snags—but this is still a minority opinion.
  • More than half of women prefer salvage logging only for safety purposes, whereas men are more split on the issue. Men are twice as likely to support salvage logging when there is no safety concern than women. Men are slightly more likely than women to support salvage logging under any circumstance.

Three in four Oregonians agree that active forest management—including commercial timber harvest—is important for forest health (Q33).

  • Seniors 65 and older are especially likely to agree; more than half of these residents say active management is “definitely” important.
  • About one in ten residents disagree with the sentiment; the rest aren’t sure or need more information. No more than about one in six residents in any single demographic group disagrees.

About half of Oregonians say 50%–75% of the state’s forests should be wilderness areas set aside for purposes and benefits other than commercial timber production (Q34).

  • One in five residents don’t know enough to have an opinion, while the remainder is split between believing all or a small portion of forests should be set aside.

Forest Practices Related to Biofuels and Carbon Sequestration

Six in ten people support using logging debris left in the forest for products like biodiesel, but a large portion of residents (28%) need additional information about this idea (Q2).

  • A majority of all demographic groups support this biofuel proposal. Those most likely to support the proposal are men, residents 65 or older, and those with a college degree or advanced education.
  • Among seniors 65 and older, more than one in ten oppose the idea. Because seniors are more supportive of logging generally, this minority may be voicing opposition to investments in biofuel specifically.
  • Seven in ten men support creating biofuels with logging debris, compared to half of the women.

A majority of residents support using public dollars to promote carbon storage in forests by helping small, private landowners harvest trees less often (Q3).

  • There is less support for providing this financial help to large, industrial landowners (Q4).

Wood products are popular among Oregonians when compared to building materials like steel and cement. Six in ten residents prefer wood products (Q5).

  • About six in ten Oregonians in nearly all demographic groups prefer wood as a building material.
  • Millennials ages 30–44 stand out for being less interested in wood products. While a minority of one in five say they do not prefer these products, this represents more opposition than any other demographic group.

Tree Planting Programs

State funding for urban and small-town tree-planting programs is overwhelmingly popular. Eight in ten Oregonians support the idea (Q10).

  • Members of all demographic groups support this idea.

Past Research

In 2019, research showed that the vast majority of Oregonians preferred managing state forests in a way that prioritizes both environmental protections and economic considerations[1]. Those sentiments are still true today.

In the intervening years, devastating wildfires across the state may be responsible for a marked shift in resident opinions about forest management. Three years ago, more than half of residents rated the management of federal, state, and private forests as good/very good.  Today, about four in ten residents agree that forests are managed well.  Political debates about forest management, including media coverage and social media influence, may also have played a role in the declining figures.

Although forestry has historically played a significant role in Oregon’s economy, residents continue to find themselves in need of additional information about the industry to form full opinions about forest management. In 2019, about one-quarter of Oregonians described themselves as not very or not at all familiar with the forestry industry. Today, roughly the same proportion of residents need more information to know if forests are managed right.

Opinions of wood products have shifted over the past three years, and Oregonians are now 10 percentage points more likely to prefer wood products as a building material to other products like steel and concrete (61%, up from 50%). This may reflect growing awareness of carbon-intensive materials as well as growing acceptance of products like cross-laminated timber.

Perceptions of the benefits of forest thinning may have declined somewhat over the same stretch of time, or else people today may simply have less awareness of the practice. In 2019, three-quarters of residents said that forest thinning would reduce the risk of wildfire in forests in eastern and southwest Oregon. Today, just 62% say it is acceptable to thin trees (but not the oldest ones) to reduce wildfire fuels. However, an additional 18% say it is neither acceptable nor unacceptable and 12% say they don’t have an opinion. In this data set, an area of the state was not defined.

Methodology

The online survey consisted of 1,554 Oregon residents ages 18+ and took approximately 15 minutes to complete. Respondents were contacted by using professionally maintained online panels. In gathering responses, a variety of quality control measures were employed, including questionnaire pre-testing, validation, and real-time monitoring of responses. To ensure a representative sample, demographic quotas were set, and data weighted by area of the state, gender, age, and education.

Statement of Limitations

Based on a 95% confidence interval, this survey’s margin of error for the full sample ±2.48%. Due to rounding or multiple answer questions, response percentages may not add up to 100%.

For More Information:


[1] Oregon Forests Values and Beliefs Survey, January 14–25, 2019; DHM Research; N=800 Oregon residents. (https://www.oregon.gov/odf/board/bofarchives/20190424/2.1_BOFMIN_20190424_02_OFRI%20Values%20and%20Beliefs%20Survey.pdf)