Oregon Forests Forever wants to thank Brent Long for the next submission in our series of voices from the people who live, work and recreate in Oregon’s forests. Brent believes that forestry, and any changes made to forest management, should be based on science, research, and good data. That’s why he believes in the Oregon Forest Practices Act, which is constantly updated to provide the best protections for Oregon’s forests and communities.
Hello my name is Brent Long. I recreate, work, and source food/water from forests that are managed for timber production. The same forests also produce many forest externalities including clean air, clean water, different wildlife habitats, and recreation opportunities.
I, like many other Oregonians, head to the forest to recreate. My main recreation activity in the forest since 2017 has been running with my two dogs. We have run 1,016 miles on logging roads since 2017. In that time span the forests around the logging roads have been logged, sprayed with herbicides, and re-planted with a native tree species mix. During that same time span I have seen elk, deer, bear, coyotes, bobcats, rabbits, and many birds of prey all utilizing the different age classes that the forest provides. We see elk and deer in the recently harvested areas eating grass, forbs, and planted trees. When they notice us they run to the 8-20 year old forest stands for protection. The birds of prey sit on stumps and snags within the recent harvests and scan the area for mice and rabbits that may come out. From a distance these recent harvests appear as bare land, but I can personally attest to the amount of use these forests get. I typically don’t wear headphones while I run because I enjoy listening to the songs from all of the songbirds. Or I hear thumps from the woodpeckers that throw off my running cadence. Songbirds flock to the recently logged areas in search of insects. The insects are out breaking down woody material and give nutrients back to the soil.
In addition to recreating out in the forest, I also work there. My dad started out as a timber cutter and ended up working as a diesel mechanic later on. He would bring me to work with him occasionally to see all of the big equipment that the loggers used. That introduction to working in the forest got me hooked. After High school I attended Oregon State University in the Forest Management program. After college I went to work for a private timber company on the Oregon Coast, where I have been for over 7 years. Our activities in the forest are guided by the Oregon Forest Practices Act (OFPA). The OFPA utilizes the best science available in order to protect resources, and is constantly updated as research is done. Various studies have been done to test the effectiveness of the OFPA and affirm its current version. It is imperative that we use science and research when we talk about protecting resources. Any changes that are made need to be based on good data and not driven by anecdotal evidence. If we propose changes to the existing protection measures we should ask two questions. First is there a real issue that needs to be addressed? Secondly if there is an issue will the proposed protection measures address the issue? Too many times when an issue is noticed a finger gets pointed without truly understanding the root of the problem. We get closer to understanding the root of the problem through research and data collection.
As previously mentioned I have lived on the Oregon Coast for over 7 years. My wife and I source food and water from forestland that is actively managed for timber production. These forests are clearcut, treated with herbicides when necessary, and replanted with a native tree species mix. We hunt the deer and elk that are plentiful in these forests. We pick the numerous different kinds of berries that grow in these forests. A number of which are more plentiful in young forests that were recently harvested and planted. We pick the chanterelle mushrooms and chicken of the woods that are found within these forests. Most importantly we drink that water that flows through these forests. We get the yearly water quality reports and have always had high quality drinking water. I think it is great that technology has got us to the point where we are able to test for the presence of contaminants way before they pose a health risk. With these advanced detection capabilities we are continually reassured of high quality water coming from our tap.
I hope that these brief statements help to paint the picture that forests can be actively managed for timber production while still providing clean water, clean air, and habitat for different species of wildlife.