By BRENT GLEASON
Hood River County Forester
Special to the News
In the March 19 edition of the Hood River News, Mr. Mark S. Reynolds wrote an open letter to the Hood River County Forester, requesting information concerning the goals and purposes of a logging operation on Lower Neal Creek Road, as well as county-wide forestry practices in general.
While written public discourse is not always the most effective means for answering questions from an individual, in this situation it may be appropriate to respond in kind.
Regarding the specific logging operation noted in your letter — it’s not a Hood River County operation. Your questions regarding logging goals and practices in that area should be directed to the appropriate parties.
On a broader scale, Hood River County is in the timber business to generate revenue for public services. The overall management goal is to maximize long-term revenues through a cost-effective, sustainable, and environmentally sound forest management program.
Approximately 40 percent of the county’s general fund is derived from our timber operation, providing services such as the Sheriff’s Department, Veteran’s Services, public health, probation and parole, jail operations, the county museum, elections, administration, the county library, tax collection (for all public entities in the county), etc.
Hood River County is unique in that its primary general revenue source is from timber operations, not from property taxes. In fact, the property tax rate for Hood River County government operations is only $1.41 per $1,000. The state average for county governments is almost three times that amount.
Hood River County conducts its forestry operations in full compliance with the Oregon Forest Practices Act, including the appropriate ground treatment and reforestation activities within prescribed time frames and conditions. All prerequisite preventive and protective activities with regard to habitat, stream protection, buffering and setbacks are observed.
The sustainable harvest level on Hood River County forestlands is 10.5 million board feet annually. This number represents the volume of wood the forest grows every year, with a 90-year rotation. Having a sustainable harvest level and management plan in place, Hood River County forest has received forest certification through The American Tree Farm System. Within the past year, in recognition of the tremendous asset the County Forest represents for so many of our citizens, we have formed a Forest Recreational Trails Advisory Committee.
That committee has recently completed development of a Trail Management Plan; that will help us to coordinate and standardize trail uses in County Forests, leading to more compatible and widespread enjoyment of this superior natural resource for all.
Further information concerning Hood River County Forest operations and practices may be obtained by calling 387-6888, or coming by the Forestry Department Offices in the Public Works Compound at the intersection of May and 18th streets in Hood River.
A copy of the Hood River County Forest Management Plan can be reviewed at the County Library.