Portland, OR – March 7, 2024 – Today, a controversial Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) for State Forests that will reduce timber harvests by 34 percent and result in billions of dollars of lost revenue for the next 70 years has been narrowly approved by a divided Board of Forestry.  

The agency and the Board realized back in January 2023 that the draft HCP would drastically reduce harvest levels and fail to meet the agency’s own objectives. After a year of public comment on the draft plan and growing alarm and frustration among the counties, taxing districts, businesses, residents, and several Board of Forestry members, Department of Forestry staff didn’t deviate from their initial plan.

“No alternatives were ever explored,” said Randy Schillinger, CEO of Hampton Lumber. “There was no reflection, no amendment, no compromise and no consideration for communities and jobs.” In the end, the Board was split 4-3 in favor of the HCP as drafted. 

“A few will celebrate passage of this HCP, but anything that excludes and harms this many people is not a win for Oregon,” said Schillinger. “We want to be clear that we want a balanced approach to management of our State Forests. We value biodiversity, wildlife habitat, and water quality,” he said. “However, the amount of forestland arbitrarily set aside in “no touch” zones by ODF is too excessive and has not been well explained or defended. These excessive set-asides are the primary reason harvest will decline, and they are not necessary to accomplish ecological goals.” 

Harvest levels on state forests are expected to continue to drop and regional timber supply with tighten further. “More forest sector businesses, large and small, will certainly suffer and shutter as a result,” said Schillinger. 

The Governor has indicated that she’ll try to cobble together some funds for the counties to compensate them for the revenues losses that will hammer their budgets. That money, if it materializes, would be akin to the federal Secure Rural Schools program that has attempted, and unfortunately failed, to alleviate the economic fallout from the shutdown of the federal forests 30 years ago.

The counties affected by this HCP have noted that harvest volume is the true engine that generates economic benefit for their communities. Communities desperately need funding for essential services, and they need productive forest management and economic opportunities.  When harvests decline, the economic impact of lost work in the surrounding communities is even greater than the loss of direct revenues to the counties. Those losses tear at the fabric that holds communities together.   

“While many have lost faith and trust in the process, we cannot withdraw from the conversation,” said Schillinger. “There is too much at stake. Maintaining what forest sector infrastructure remains in northwest Oregon will require ODF now work to maximize the harvest volume allowed under the HCP.”

A benefit of an HCP is that it provides assurances that ODF’s harvest plans can be implemented. With those assurances in hand, ODF should be able to meet the harvest targets it sets for itself. “If the agency falls short of its own goals going forward, the public should know why,” said Schillinger.  “It will be critical that forest sector workers, counties, and taxing districts remain engaged to ensure ODF does not fall short on its promises under this HCP.” 

State forests remain critical to sawmilling infrastructure in northwest Oregon and to the production of wood products for society. Oregon grows and manufactures much needed, carbon-friendly building materials from some of the most sustainability managed forest resources on the planet. The wood produced in northwest Oregon helps shelter millions of people throughout the region year after year.  “This sector and all who depend on it deserved better today,” said Schillinger. “And we will need more consideration and support going forward.”  

About Hampton Lumber 

Hampton Lumber is a fourth-generation, family-owned company headquartered in Portland, Oregon. With over 80 years in the sawmill business, Hampton operates sawmills in Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia and markets wood products all over the world. Hampton also manages a wholesale and lumber export division and numerous reload and remanufacturing facilities throughout the U.S. All of Hampton’s forestlands are certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), an independent, non-profit organization that promotes sustainable forest management. SFI certified forests play an important role in water conservation, wildlife habitat, and climate solutions.