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Frequently Asked Questions

•   Why a Douglas-Fir National Monument?

National parks or national monuments have been established specifically to protect outstanding examples of iconic tree or tree-like species. Redwood National Park (1968) was established to protect some of the last old-growth coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) forests on Earth. Yosemite (1890) and Kings Canyon (1940) national parks were established in part to conserve the giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum), as was the Sequoia National Monument (2000). The Joshua Tree (1936) and Sauguaro (1933) national parks were established to conserve and enjoy tree-like cacti (Yucca brevifolia and Carnegiea gigantea). The Big Cypress National Preserve (1974) was similarly established for the bald cypress (Taxodium distichum). The Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) is comparably iconic and can rival the size of coast redwood. It too, deserves protection.

•  At  702,500 acres why is the proposed Douglas-Fir National Monument so big?
The goal of creating a new national monument to the Douglas-fir forest is not merely to preserve the scattered fragments of older forest that remain today, but to restore ecological and hydrological integrity to a region that has undergone profound alteration since large-scale industrial logging began after World War II. Some excellent groves of ancient Douglas-fir forest are permanently protected in places like the Middle Santiam and Mount Jefferson Wildernesses. However, most of the older Douglas-fir forest stands in the area could be subject to clearcutting.  To successfully restore a meaningful forest and allow it to mature so as to properly represent the historical Douglas-fir forest, the Monument must contain enough land to allow for the range of environments typical of the area before the era of clearcutting.

•  Did the area of the proposed Douglas-fir National Monument expand?
Yes. The Board of Directors recently voted to expand the boundaries of the proposed National Monument beyond the original proposal. The watershed of the Calapooya within the Forest Service boundaries was added, along with a portion of the Blue River watershed and the upper portions of the McKenzie watershed. The northern area of the proposed monument was significantly affected by the Lionshead and Beachie Creek fires. Fires are a natural part of the life of the forest, but the extraordinary size of those fires created an imbalance within the area of the proposed Monument.  In addition to the noteworthy character of the new area by itself, which includes such treasures as the McKenzie River National Recreational Trail, inclusion returns a better balance of forest types to the Monument.

•  Aren’t enough Old Growth forests already protected?
Most forests dominated by Douglas-fir have been clearcut and converted to plantations where the trees are all of similar species, height, diameter and spacing. These plantations are generally biological deserts more akin to a cornfield than a forest.

Prior to industrial-style logging most Douglas-fir forests were mature and old-growth stands. The old-growth stand condition would last hundreds and hundreds of years until a major natural disturbance event such as fire, wind, insects and/or disease reset the ecologically complex old forest to an even more ecologically—but relatively short-lived—complex of early seral forest. This “snag forest” or “pre-forest” eventually reestablished itself with conifers and the young forest progressed into mature forest and then old-growth forest.

If we want to have a functioning Douglas-fir ecosystem across the landscape and over time, we need to conserve all the old-growth forest that is left and restore much that has been lost.

•  Why now?
Just about a human generation ago, in 1989, approximately three square miles per week of old-growth forest were being clearcut on federal public land in Oregon. Most of the logged areas were restocked with trees, but it was done as a single species forest, with trees growing into crowded plantations. Today, while logging is but a small fraction of that historically high and ecologically devastating level, we should do what is best for the next generation.

Logging continues on public and private land, but the economic impact of logging in Oregon has declined significantly. There are other uses of the forest that are more important now. The best thing we can do with a relatively small, but significant area of the Douglas-fir forest in Oregon is give our heirs the legacy that includes the conservation of large landscapes for ecological and watershed integrity and for recreational (pronounced “re-creational”) enjoyment. They will appreciate our foresight and action today as we appreciate those of our ancestors who established the national parks, national monuments, wilderness and other strong and enduring conservation areas.

•  Haven’t we protected enough of our natural areas?
Very little of the historic old growth Douglas-fir ecoregion is protected. The major conservation networks that are the National Park System, National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, National Wilderness Preservation System, National Landscape Conservation System, National Wildlife Refuge System, National Marine Sanctuary System and National Estuarine Resarch Reserve System are an important part of what makes America great. But these conservation systems are incomplete. Establishing a Douglas-Fir National Monument would be an important contribution to the conservation, restoration and appreciation of nature for this and future generations.

•  Why in Oregon?
Oregon is central to the range of the Douglas-fir. Oregon is becoming more populated and the population is increasingly in urban and suburban settings. Natural recreation opportunities are and will likely continue to become increasingly important.

• Why in Linn, Marion and Lane Counties, Oregon?

These counties include an important segment of what was once the heart of the old-growth Douglas-fir forest. The area of the Monument includes a significant amount of Oregon's limited acreage of remaining old-growth stands and roadless areas. It also includes areas of recent and ancient volcanic activity that makes the Oregon Cascades a unique habitat for the Douglas-fir forest.

To create a National Monument that will allow present and future generations to experience the ecological wonder of a mature Douglas-fir forest, the area of the Monument must be large enough so that all stages of a natural forest can be present. The watersheds of the Santiam, the Calapooya, and upper McKenzie provide all the necessary components. There are wilderness areas and a few old-growth stands outside the wilderness areas that can provide an immediate experience of the variety and diversity of the historical forest. This area of the Cascades contains some of the largest contiguous areas of wilderness and roadless areas in the state. Areas to the north and south have more commercial intrusions and developments that break up the integrity necessary for the eventual representation of a naturally occurring Douglas-fir forest.

There must also be enough area within a Monument so that all the historical elements of a natural Douglas-fir forest can be present. This includes the possibility of fires, and the recovery of the forest after a fire. The recent Lionshead and Beachie Creek fires to the north, and the Holiday Farm fire adjacent to the southern edge of the Monument are the latest and largest fire experience, but there have been fires all along the Cascades for centuries. The area of the proposed Monument includes areas of fire and fire regeneration representative of historical fires and, unfortunately, of recent more extensive fires that seem to be more common, perhaps because of climate change and modern logging practices. The Monument must be large enough so that it can present all aspects of the forest, including areas that have avoided or recovered from past fires.

While the Douglas-fir is the dominant tree in a Douglas-fir forest, a true old-growth Douglas-fir forest contains a variety of trees living in different environments. To be representative of what a Douglas-fir National Monument should be, the Monument must contain a variety of micro regions: Not just the included wilderness areas and acres of Douglas-fir forests of various ages, but also the stands of red cedars along the McKenzie, the wild flowers and high elevation true firs of Iron Mountain and the old-growth giant Douglas-firs including Crabtree Creek and Hackleman Creek. Including the Santiam and Calapooya watersheds, and the upper McKenzie watershed insures the diversity of ecologies necessary to provide a continually representative Douglas-fir National Monument.

Creating the Monument here also provides an opportunity to create a coherent, expanding legacy for future generations. Old growth areas can continue to evolve. Logged areas can evolve toward an old-growth forest. Plantations can be thinned and then can also evolve toward old-growth diversity.

  • Will "locking up" the National Forests ruin the economies of the counties?

Decades ago logging, including logging on the National Forests, was a major part of the economies of Linn, Marion and Lane counties. That has not been true for a long time. For all sorts of reasons, logging as a share of the economy in Oregon has declined significantly. Local communities in these counties and their economies are changing.  It is very likely that—due primarily to economic but also political forces—the traditional timber industry in these counties will continue its decades-long contraction.

A national monument will draw not only tourists who will spend money in the local communities, but also small, and perhaps large, businesses who can locate anywhere. They often choose to locate near permanently protected landscapes that the owners and their employees can enjoy. Economists refer to this environmental-based attraction as the “second paycheck.” One can make more money working and living in (Cleveland, Miami or nearly anywhere else), but natural and recreational amenities we have here contribute to the quality of life.

Logging will not disappear in any of these counties; even in the Monument thinning of the plantation areas will continue for many years.

  • How would the Douglas-Fir National Monument be created?

A national monument is defined as an area of Federal land of critical natural, historical or scientific resource preserved for present and future generations and maintained for public use. Our proposal meets the definition as both a critical natural and scientific resource.

Most national monuments in the United States have been proclaimed by the President under authority granted by Congress, specifically the Antiquities Act of 1906, to protect objects of historic or scientific interest. Every president since Theodore Roosevelt—save for Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush—have proclaimed or expanded national monuments.

Less common are national monuments established by an Act of Congress. Whether legislated by Congress or proclaimed by a president using power delegated by Congress, national monuments are constitutional under the United States Constitution’s Property Clause (Article IV, Section 3, Clause 2).

Oregon has three national monuments and one “national volcanic monument”:

• Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve. The national monument (480 acres) was proclaimed by President Taft in 1909 and the preserve (4,154 acres) that surrounds the monument was established by Congress in 2014 for a total of 4,234 acres).

• John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. This 3-unit national monument was established by Congress in 1974, totals 14,000 acres, in Wheeler and Grant counties and is administered by the National Park Service.

• Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. President Clinton proclaimed a ~53,000-acre national monument in 2000, administered by the Bureau of Land Management in Jackson County. Since that time over 13,000 acres of undeveloped private lands within the outer monument boundary have been acquired from willing sellers and become part of the national monument.

• Newbery National Volcanic Monument. Established by Congress in 1990, the national volcanic monument is 55,500 acres in size and is administered as part of the Deschutes National Forest in Deschutes County.

The Friends of the Douglas-Fir National Monument’s preference is for Congress to establish the Douglas-Fir National Monument. In this way, Congress could at the same time, also expand and establish new wilderness areas and wild and scenic rivers within the national monument.

If the Douglas-Fir National Monument is established by presidential proclamation, no new wilderness or wild and scenic rivers would come along as those designations can only be established by an Act of Congress. Afterwards, we could continue to advocate for wilderness and wild and scenic rivers.

  • What about wilderness areas?

Existing wilderness areas within the Monument, such as the Middle Santiam, Menagerie and a portion of the Mt. Jefferson Wildernesses, would remain protected as they are. For new Wild and Scenic River designations, such as Moose Creek, see “How would the Douglas-fir National Monument be created?”, above.

  • What would happen to private and state lands inside the National Monument?

The creation of a National Monument affects only the Federal lands within the declared boundaries. There are some areas of private land and State forest land within the part of the Willamette National Forest proposed for the Douglas-fir National Monument. These private lands, called "inholdings", would not be changed, just as they remain unchanged in national monuments around the country. Access to these lands would continue to be across the Federal lands that surround them. State highways would continue to provide access to and through the Monument.

•  Why propose a project that will generate controversy?
If every one agrees it ought to be done, it has probably already been done. There will be local people and local interests who will oppose a Douglas-Fir National Monument. Some prefer the status quo, or even a return to the logging levels of the past. The problem is that the status quo isn’t static or stable. Economic and social forces of today mean that a return to the past is even more unlikely.

Most of what are today our beloved national parks, monuments, wildernesses, wildlife refuges, wild and scenic rivers and other federal conservation designations were highly controversial at the time of their establishment and the opposition was most entrenched closer to the area. Most locals opposed the original establishment of Oregon’s only National Park, Crater Lake. Locals even initially opposed protection of the Grand Canyon in Arizona., a state that now calls itself “the Grand Canyon State.”

When there is a trade-off between short-term economic interests and long-term national interests, the latter should prevail.

• Doesn’t America need the lumber and other wood products from federal public        forest lands?
More raw log volume cut on private land in Oregon and Washington is exported to Japan, China and Korea than is cut off of federal public lands in those two states. Most logs in Oregon come from non-federal lands.

•   Don't we need the logging jobs on Forest Service lands?

Since the Northwest Forest Plan was implemented, the number of mills and milling jobs has decreased by half, while the milling capacity of the remaining mills increased by one quarter. Automation replaced the lost jobs and more. The remaining jobs that used to pay more than the Oregon median income now pay less.

•   Don’t the counties need the revenues from federal timber sales?
The counties’ share of federal timber receipts prior to 1990 were dependent upon logging a very large amount of very large trees. That large amount of timber was bound to run out. For nearly 25 years now, the federal government has directly given monies to the counties. These timber counties have some of the lowest property tax rates in the nation. The solution to county funding woes is for the three levels of government (federal, state and county) to all do their fair shares.

•   Isn’t clearcut logging good for fish and wildlife?
No. Clearcut logging and associated logging roads cause erosion that reduces water quality and therefore the number of fish. Thousands of species of wildlife find homes in the habitats provided by complex very large and very old stands of forests. The massive logging of forests is contributing to the endangerment of numerous species.

•   Without timber management,  (primarily by clearcutting) won’t the forest burn up and/or die off?
A forest fire is either the beginning of a new forest or the continuation of the current forest. Fire (and wind and native insects and native diseases) are natural disturbance events that are beneficial to fish and wildlife, and to ecological and watershed function. For instance, salvage logging after a fire removes essential wood mass needed for the forest to recover. There is no ecological or hydrological benefit to doing so.

Recently the area was subject to several large wildfires. It appears from visits to the area of the fires that the clearcuts and the plantations of crowded, single-aged trees on private and public land burned more extensively and thoroughly than the older segments.

•   Won’t a National Monument designation “lock out” most users?
It will not “lock up” anything. Logging can and will continue as will all the recreational activities that are currently allowed, including hunting, under state rules. The majority of the proposed national monument is already readily accessible by road. That won’t change. Some has been established as Wilderness or consists of roadless areas where there never were roads. While it is proposed that unnecessary roads be decommissioned for the benefit of watersheds, wildlife and the federal taxpayer, it is also proposed that the remaining roads be improved for the benefit if public safety and enjoyment and for the proper administration of the area. Both treatments of roads would create jobs in the woods. The costs of maintaining such vast amounts of little used roads that went to every old clearcut are huge and an unnecessary expense and the Forest Service is already in the process of decommissioning roads.

•  Don’t local people know best how to manage the land?
When profits, wages or life styles are dependent upon logging, “locals” have a conflict of interest and their views must be examined for bias. “Local” management led to the vast roading and logging of forests and watersheds to the detriment of water quality, fish, wildlife, recreation and scenery.

•  Isn’t a National Monument unnecessary since inappropriate logging is thing of the past?
We would like to think so, but logging practices can and do change in the winds of political change. Monument designation specifying restoration forestry will go a long way to make sure old practices don’t return.

•   Isn’t salvage logging a thing of the past?
While salvage logging after a natural disturbance is somewhat less likely to happen than in the past, it is still a major threat to forest and watershed integrity.

•   How can a future Presidential administration, hostile to conservation, succeed in the large-scale resumption of inappropriate logging?
The Northwest Forest Plan was implemented during the Clinton Administration. The ecological, legal and political crisis was provoked by the Reagan Administration and amplified by the George H.W. Bush Administration. Even the Obama Administration has been trying to weaken the Northwest Forest Plan.

•   Don’t administrative land allocations and overlays preclude inappropriate logging?
The Northwest Forest Plan was affirmed by actions of the courts, the White House and the scientific community. In spite of that, land management agencies (US Forest Service and the BLM) resist having their management discretion limited and they have worked to undercut the Northwest Forest Plan. BLM is well along the way in eroding its portion of the Northwest Forest Plan and the Forest Service has plans to do so also.

•    Isn’t plantation logging beneficial for nature and for wood production?
It depends upon the kind of logging in the plantations. Most conservationists (including Friends of Douglas-fir National Monument) support scientifically sound ecological restoration thinning with appropriate requirements that protect streams, dense-forest dependent species and other resource values that put the timber plot on a path to becoming more biologically diverse. Such logging results in a very significant amount of commercial timber volume produced, but it is a byproduct of silvicultural management.
Most conservationists do not support “variable retention regeneration harvest” (“sloppy clearcut”) in plantations.

There is no shortage of early seral forest habitat on non-federal forestlands due to continued wide-scale clearcutting.

•   Aren’t there already enough National Monuments, National Parks and Wilderness Areas in Oregon that contain Douglas-fir forests?
In Oregon, low elevation old growth forests are in short supply. There are some Wilderness areas with magnificent stands dominated by low-elevation old-growth Douglas-fir (e.g. Drift Creek, Middle Santiam, Opal Creek, Salmon-Huckleberry, Boulder Creek). But these Wilderness Areas are relatively small.
A Douglas-Fir National Monument would help make up for that deficit.

•  What are the boundaries of the proposed Douglas-fir National Monument?

Beginning at the peak of Mr. Jefferson, north along the western boundary of the Warm Springs Indian Reservation to the southern tip of the Olallie Lake National Scenic Area. Then northwest along the watershed boundary (Height of land) between the Breitenbush river watershed and the Olallie lakes watershed (within the Olallie Lake NSA) to the intersection of National Forest Road 380 and Forest Road 4220, then west to the Forest Service Boundary between Mt Hood National Forest and Willamette National Forest. Then west along the National Forest boundary to the intersection of this boundary and the southern boundary of the Bull of the Woods Wilderness, then west along the southern boundary of the Bull of the Woods and the Opal Creek Wilderness to the point of the French Creek Trailhead along French Creek Road, then due west to the western boundary of the Willamette National Forest, then south to where the boundary encounters the North Santiam Highway (State Highway 22). Then generally southeast along the right of way of Highway 22 and then generally both southeast and northeasterly along the northern right of way of Highway 22 to that point where Highway 22 turns southeast to cross Detroit Lake and enter the town of Detroit. From the point of such southeast turn, the boundary will become the ordinary high water mark of Detroit Lake northeast to the point where the Breitenbush River enters the Lake. The boundary will cross the River and continue south west along the Lake to a point 250 feet distant from private property within and around the city limits of the town of Detroit. The boundary will continue generally south east, maintaining a buffer distance of 250 feet from the town of Detroit and other private property along Highway 22, through the area of Idanha until the boundary line encounters the right of way of State Highway 22. The boundary will then proceed southeast along the northern boundary of State Highway 22 to the area of the town of Idanha. Using the same buffer of 250 feet away from private property, the boundary shall skirt Idanha to exclude the areas of private property within the Willamette National Forest located generally north, east and south of Idanha. Where the boundaries of such private property reapproaches the North Santiam River, on the south side of the river, the boundary will proceed north west along the ordinary high water mark of the North Santiam River and then the boundary of Detroit Lake, proceeding 250 back from the ordinary high water mark of Detroit Lake, except where necessarily further inshore to exclude state and private property, until the boundary reaches the western boundary of the Willamette National Forest, where the boundary of the National Monument shall also be the boundary of the National Forest, running south, then west, then north, west and south until the boundary of the National Forest encounters with and intersects the northeast boundary corner of the land managed by the Bureau of Land Management including the Crabtree Valley area. The boundary of the National Monument shall then proceed west, then south, then east to include all BLM lands touching on and including the watershed of Crabtree Creek, Bonnie Creek, and Whiterock Creek, and then south and east to include Yellowstone Mountain and as much of the watershed of Yellowstone Creek and Four Bit Creek, and Moose Creek as lie within BLM Jurisdiction, then east of the southern edge of the area of BLM land east of Gobbler’s Knob to cross Quartzville Creek and south, east and north of that section of BLM land adjacent to the section crossing Quartzville Creek then north and east along the boundaries of BLM controlled land to that point where the contiguous elements of BLM land again encounter the boundary of the Willamette National Forest. Resuming a boundary contiguous of the boundary of the National Forest, the National Monument shall proceed east then south along the westernmost boundary of the National Forest, including the western boundary of the Middle Santiam Wilderness, to the area of checkerboard National Forest and private land south of the Middle Santiam River. The National Monument boundary shall include all national forest land west and south including land in the area generally designated as Moose Ridge, south along the western boundary of the National Forest lands across the South Santiam River, then east and then south along the westernmost boundary of the National Forest boundary to that point where the national forest boundary line crosses the Linn – Lane County line at the southern edge of the Calapooya watershed. The boundary shall then proceed due south approximately 600 feet to the parallel of forty four degrees, twelve minutes thirty seconds north. The Monument boundary shall run east along said parallel to cross the Blue River just north of Carmen Smith Reservoir to the height of land marking the watershed boundary between the Blue River and its tributary Lookout Creek. The boundary shall then proceed northeastward along the height of land marking the watershed boundary of Lookout Creek (also marking the boundary of the H. J. Andrews Experimental Forest) to the height of land known as Carpenter Mountain. The Monument boundary shall then proceed in a southeasterly direction, following the boundary of the H J Andrews Experimental Forest and the watershed boundary of Lookout Creek to Frissell Point, where the boundary shall run due south, crossing state Highway 126 to pass slightly east of Little Smokey peak to the centerline of Forest Service Road 2643 (Foley Ridge Road). The boundary then goes in a generally eastward direction along the centerline of Road 2643 to the junction of 2643 and Road 480. At that point the boundary line goes south approximately 200 feet to the boundary of the Three Sisters Wilderness. The boundary then goes in a northeasterly direction along the northern and western boundary of Three Sisters Wilderness until that boundary meets the boundary of Deschutes County. From that point the boundary of the Monument travels in a northerly direction along the western boundary of Deschutes County (eastern boundary of Linn County) to the intersection of the Deschutes and Linn County line with the southern boundary of the Santiam Recreation Area, the northern boundary of the Mt. Washington wilderness area, where the boundary turns west to a point due south of Sand Mountain. At that point, the boundary of the Monument runs due north to the centerline of Highway 20, where the boundary runs east along the centerline of highway 20 to the boundary of Linn County and Deschutes County, where the boundary turns north along the eastern boundary of Deschutes County to the beginning point at the peak of Mt. Jefferson.
There are existing private lands and claims, and several public lands and uses within the described boundary. These lands and uses shall not change after the creation of the Monument.

•  What would be the allowed uses within the proposed Douglas-fir National Monument?

The allowed uses will be determined at the time of the creation of the National Monument. The purpose of the National Monument is to preserve and protect the historic Douglas-fir ecosystem in all its expressions. The uses allowed should be consistent with that purpose. Recreational uses and visits would obviously be consistent with the purpose. Logging in a scientific based method in replanted areas that are filled with crowded, single species trees in a manner that will facilitate the return of these areas to a more natural forest is also consistent with the purpose of the Monument. Road maintenance, with some necessary road construction where it would further the purposes, and decommissioning of some roads where their continued existence serves no purpose should be allowed. Existing private and public uses would continue.