Conversations on the Forest

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Conversations on the Forest is a program of collaborative learning discussions on the forests of Lane County and the Pacific Northwest, presented in a fireside chat and response format. The program hosts are Rob Handy, Roy Keene, and Kevin Matthews.

This page is used simultaneously as public information, and as a working page for program development by the core team.

Also find us on Facebook!

New -

Conversations on the Forest No. 11 — "If increased logging is not 'the answer,' then what is?"

Audio of November session at Axe & Fiddle

Conversations on the Forest No. 10 — Forests, Fire, and Water

Audio of September session at Cozmic

Kevin Matthews at the forum on O&C issues on August 26, 2013 - three minute video clip on YouTube

Kevin Matthews at the Timber Independence rally in Roseburg on September 13, 2013 - twelve minute video on YouTube

Tracking the DeFazio O&C forest industrialization amendment adding his scheme to HR 1526 which was passed out of the notorious House Natural Resources Committee on July 31, 2013.

Conversations on the Forest No. 9 — The Ups and Downs of Forest Biomass

Audio of July session at Cozmic
Video of July session at CozmicAlternate link for video of July session


Conversations on the Forest - November 2013 - 2013.1118

Conversations on the Forest - No. 11
November 18, 2013
"If increased logging is not 'the answer,' then what is?"

Many timber industry representatives and elected officials have echoed that "increased logging" of public lands in western Oregon is necessary to address some important problem, such as funding county governments or providing rural jobs.

In this Conversation, we'll outline a practical vision for improving the economic situation of both rural residents and forest-dependent counties - the opposite to continued reliance on the mythical net benefits of increasing logging on our already heavily-impacted forests.

Real rural prosperity involves reforms within the wood products sector, as well as an invigorated focus on all the other aspects of a balanced regional economy, like food, energy, specialty agriculture, recreation, information, health, and human connections.

Join Rob, Roy, and Kevin as we share practical examples of how Lane County can build synergies around our high quality of life, instead of tradeoffs against it, leveraging specific local strengths and bottom-up innovations.

7:00-8:30pm on Monday, May 13, 2013
at Axe & Fiddle, 657 East Main Street, Cottage Grove
Contact: Rob Handy
More information:

Audio recording of this session is here.

Conversations on the Forest - September 2013 - 2013.0930

Conversations on the Forest - No. 10
September 30, 2013
Forests, Fire, and Water

The forests of western Oregon and the drinking water these supply for 1.8 million Oregonians are inseparable, just as today's wildfires, driven by unusually hot dry conditions, are inseparable from climate change.

As summer wildfires smolder into the Fall and diverging interests demand more from Oregon's forested watersheds, we'll once again take a deeper look, delving into the facts behind the claims.

Will more logging "save" our forests? What about our water? Does "thinning" help, or hurt? What about beetle kill and salvage logging? What about the carbon that goes into the air when a forest burns?

Join Rob, Roy, Kevin, and our special guest, fire fighter and ecologist Tim Ingalsbee, for a probing, evidence-based, free-range discussion of these overheated dimensions of the Oregon forest question.

7:00-8:30pm on Monday, September 30, 2013
at Cozmic, 199 W. 8th Ave. in Eugene
Contact: Rob Handy
More information:

Audio recording of this session is here.

Conversations on the Forest - July 2013 - 2013.0708

Conversations on the Forest - No. 9
July 8, 2013
The Ups and Downs of Forest Biomass

Burning wood for energy is ancient. Why is there a push to burn more wood today - and does it make sense?

Long-term Oregonians remember wigwam burners dotted around the countryside, their spark-screen domes aglow in the evening. The steady stream of hog-fuel semis that fed a mountain of wood chips at the University of Oregon boiler plant growled well into the 1990s.

For decades, biomass cogeneration at paper mills and other big plants has continued quietly, while the green paint still shines glossy at the big Seneca burner in North Eugene. What's new on the scene is the emergence of large government financial incentives, plus renewed industry marketing, hingeing on claimed climate change benefits.

From another perspective, a shift toward biomass energy heralds the final stages of industrial forest degradation, as the downward spiral of ever-shorter harvest rotations ultimately turns on trees too small for making lumber.

This round of Conversations On The Forest will survey facts and fictions regarding forest biomass burning, seeking to illuminate what may be an industrial opportunity, and what's in the broader public interest.

7:00-8:30pm on Monday, July 8, 2013
at Cozmic, 199 W. 8th Ave. in Eugene
Contact: Rob Handy
More information:

Audio recording of this session is here.

Conversations on the Forest - May 2013 - 2013.0513

Conversations on the Forest - No. 8
May 13, 2013
Oregon Forests, Oregon Economies

What is the problem that we want BLM timber harvests to solve?

Senator Wyden, Governor Kitzhaber, and Congressmen DeFazio, Walden, and Schrader have all said recently that cutting more timber on Federal lands in western Oregon is a significant priority. Some of these leaders have also said that maintaining key environmental protections is also a priority - and some haven't.

This round of Conversations On The Forest will survey the current push to change BLM forest management in Oregon. We'll look at what problem or problems we're trying to solve through changes in forest management. And we'll present some of our ideas for effectively addressing the real challenges that face rural Oregon communities today.

Note our new location in Cottage Grove this month!

7:00-8:30pm on Monday, May 13, 2013
at Axe & Fiddle, 657 East Main Street, Cottage Grove
Contact: Rob Handy
More information:

Audio recording of this session is here.

Handout for this session is here.

Radio preview, Roy and Kevin on the Jefferson Exchange Monday morning, is here (starting at about 30:43):

Facebook Event Page for Optional RSVPs

Conversations on the Forest - November 2012 - 2012.1105

Conversations on the Forest - No. 7
November 5, 2012
Governor Kitzhaber's O&C Forest Panel

"What's the Deal with Governor Kitzhaber's Timber Panel?"

Oregon Governor Kitzhaber has appointed a 14-person advisory panel in response to the DeFazio/Walden/Schrader proposed O&C lands privatization legislation. The stated goal for the new panel is to craft a plan by early 2013 to provide bigger county payments by increasing logging on public lands.

Who is on the Governor's new timber panel, who isn't, and what is the balance of interests? How has the timber issue been framed, and how could it be framed more appropriately? What are the likely economic and environmental impacts of increased logging on rural communities in Western Oregon? How do the seven principles suggested to the panel by Senator Wyden fit into the picture?

How does all this contribute to finding deep solutions for decades of forest distress?

Conversations is pleased to welcome guest presenter Doug Heiken of Oregon Wild, joining us for this episode.

Handout listing members of the Governor's timber panel (PDF)

First Mondays, 6:00-7:30pm
at Cozmic, 199 W. 8th Ave. in Eugene
Contact: Rob Handy
More information:

Conversations on the Forest - October 2012 - 2012.1001

Conversations on the Forest - No. 6
October 1, 2012
Oregon Forest Practices Act

"Is the Forest Practices Act Working?"

What level of environmental safeguards is provided by the Oregon Forest Practices Act, that sets the rules for Oregon's vast private timberlands? How does it compare to the Washington and California counterparts?

October's Conversation will contrast Oregon's archaic Forest Practices Act, relatively unchanged since created in 1971, with more progressive forest practice rules adopted in other Pacific states.

We will review real-world outcomes under the current act, and explore possible reforms that could provide more protection for the people of Oregon and their forest resources. Can the Forest Practices Act protect the public along with their water and wildlife, entwined within the private forests, and still provide for viable timber production?

We'll also announce our October forest field trip.

Handout comparing Oregon & California Forest Practices Act

First Mondays, 6:00-7:30pm
at Cozmic, 199 W. 8th Ave. in Eugene
Contact: Rob Handy
More information:

Forest Metrics Workshop in Cottage Grove - 2012.0930

Summary of field trip in ten twitter pics

Sunday, September 30th 10:00am to 4:00pm
(If you plan to attend, please RSVP to Samantha Chirillo at

In our Long Tom checkerboard forest tour, we reviewed and briefly discussed a variety of timber thinnings. In this tour, we'll look into the Gowdyville Thinning (completed 15 years ago), just 3 miles southeast of Cottage Grove. We'll discuss how well the stands have recovered and developed after thinning. We'll measure some common forest metrics such as tree age and height, along with stand density in square feet of basal area per acre.

If time permits, we'll also introduce the standard land survey concept of township, range and section, along with a handout and quick overview of map and compass use. If you can't find it, you can't measure it!

This workshop, from 10am til roughly 3 or 4pm, will involve some walking in the woods. There may be logging slash, poison oak, even hornets if the weather is still dry. Bring water and lunch. Wear boots or sturdy shoes, along with long pants and a light-colored shirt. If the weather and woods are still bone dry (extreme fire risk), then each car should have a fire extinguisher and shovel.

Note: You'll get more out of this workshop with some reading and preparation! Before the workshop, please contact Samantha at for maps, site index and yield charts, and other information pertaining to the training session.

Those in Cottage Grove should meet us at the Gowdyville Thinning, intersection of Gowdyville Rd with BLM spur 20-4-35. There is a yellow iron gate on the south side of the road near the top of the hill.

Those of us from the north, east, west or core of Eugene will meet at about 9AM at the northeast parking lot of Lane Community College at 30th and Eldon Schafer Rd (take the 30th Ave exit off I-5), then carpool to the thinning.

July 2012 Comment Period on Scoping for BLM Western Oregon Forests RMP

Some notes to help people interested in commenting on scoping for the BLM Western Oregon Forests Resource Management Plan (RMP) are posted online here:

And also here:

By 5pm Pacific time on Thursday, July 5, 2012, send your comments by email to:

Or submit using this online form:

Series Announcement

Conversations on the Forest
A series of fireside chats delving deeply into facts and futures of the forests of Lane County and the Pacific Northwest.

The forest is central to our regional identity, ecology, and economy. Competing public and private interests have driven growth, decline, and political division for decades. In a series of five discussions, Lane County Commissioner Rob Handy, public interest forester Roy Keene, and ArchitectureWeek editor-in-chief Kevin Matthews will explore the past, present, and future of our forests with a depth and openness rarely seen.

Who owns Lane County’s forests, and how have they changed over time? How does forest management, on both public and private land, benefit and impact Lane County residents? Can we sustain the forest, and all its many benefits?

First Mondays
February 6, March 5, April 2, May 7, June 4
Cozmic, 199 W. 8th Ave. in Eugene

More information:

Contact: Rob Handy

Facebook page:

Series Flyer

Help spread the word about these public discussions by printing this flyer on recycled paper and posting it appropriately!

Flyer for the Conversations on the Forest series (PDF)

Special Thanks

  • Special thanks to Samantha Chirillo for research and logistical support for these conversations.
  • Special thanks to Cozmic for hosting this event series.
  • Special thanks for event recording and broadcasts aired on Community Television of Lane County

Initial Program Topics

Please Note: This program is continuously under construction, as a collective evolutionary project.

Forest Facts

Conversations on the Forest - No. 1

Audio recording of the first session is at this link...

Handout for the first session is at this link:
What were the forests of Lane County at key times in the past?
What are they today?
History of harvests, public and private. (map, acreages over time)
Pattern of ownership, public and private. (map, current acreages)

Forest Economics

Conversations on the Forest - No. 2

Audio recording of the second session is at this link...

Handout for the second session is at this link:
Trees, Trucks, and Taxes - Where does the money come from, and where does it go?
How much timber is being exported, and what are the economic implications?
How much public money is currently being spent in the forests? On what?
Forest management practices and economic implications

Public Goods and Ecology

Conversations on the Forest - No. 3

Audio recording of the third session is at this link...

Handout for the third session is at this link:
Public goods in public and private forests
Water quality, erosion prevention
Carbon flows
Oregon Forest Practices Act
Forest certification systems

Rural Communities

Conversations on the Forest - No. 4

Audio recording of the fourth session is at this link:

Our primary handout for the fourth session is the BLM press release on scoping meetings for the new western Oregon forest planning process:

For graphics shown during the conversation, please see the session maps and session references.

Rural communities
Jobs, mechanization, and ratios
Timber and non-timber economies
Growth, decline, or... prosperity?

Forest Futures

Conversations on the Forest - No. 5

Audio recording of the fifth session is at this link...

Handout for the fifth session is at this link:
Are win-win-win solutions possible?
What would they look like?
A plan for the forests, rural communities, and the future
Next steps for the forests
Next steps for rural communities

Program Materials

See the five session handouts, linked in the section above.

Forest Fact Sheet


Discussion Area

The Neighbors and Nature Forum at DesignCommunity is open and welcoming for discussion related to these Conversations.

Simple registration is required for posting comments and documents. Posting approval is immediate when done using a Facebook account as validation, but Facebook is not required.

Facebook page:

What is Sustainable Forestry?

Notes on Sustainable Forestry

Primary References


Lane County Atlas Home Page
Lane County Atlas - Land Ownership
Map of harvest history/forest age class
NOAA River Gauges and Basins
US Forest Service - Willamette National Forest
US Bureau of Land Management - Eugene District
Wilderness Society

Composite Maps of the Walden/Defazio O&C Forest Privatization Proposal

To view these maps, click on the link to load a map in your browser, then zoom in and scroll around to see detail.


Pacific Northwest Research Station - Harvest History


Oregon Forest Resources Institute

O&C Act of 1937

O&C Act of 1937
"...Such portions of the revested Oregon and California Railroad and reconveyed Coos Bay Wagon Road grant lands as are or may hereafter come under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Interior, which have heretofore or may hereafter be classified as timberlands, and power-site lands valuable for timber, shall be managed (...) for permanent forest production, and the timber thereon shall be sold, cut, and removed in conformity with the principal of sustained yield for the purpose of providing a permanent source of timber supply, protecting watersheds, regulating stream flow, and contributing to the economic stability of local communities and industries, and providing recreational facilities..."

Topical Opinion Pieces

Topical Reporting

Research Reporting

Primary Research

  • "Regional carbon dioxide implications of forest bioenergy production," Tara W. Hudiburg, Beverly E. Law, Christian Wirth & Sebastiaan Luyssaert, Nature Climate Change 1, 419–423 (2011), published online 23 October 2011. (subscription required). "Here, we use forest inventory data to show that fire prevention measures and large-scale bioenergy harvest in US West Coast forests lead to 2–14% (46–405 Tg C) higher emissions compared with current management practices over the next 20 years. We studied 80 forest types in 19 ecoregions, and found that the current carbon sink in 16 of these ecoregions is sufficiently strong that it cannot be matched or exceeded through substitution of fossil fuels by forest bioenergy."
  • "Carbon dynamics of Oregon and Northern California forests and potential land-based carbon storage," by Tara W. Hudiburg, Beverly E. Law, et al., Ecological Applications, 19(1), 2009, pp. 163–180.
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