SALEM, Ore. — Counties and local governments in Oregon made "record revenues" of $86.9 million from timber sales on state forest lands this year, according to the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF).
In southern Oregon, Klamath County received about $1.6 million from that revenue — thanks to the Gilchrist and Sun Pass state forests, which represent about 98,000 acres of forest land.
ODF's accounting of those record revenues factored prominently in a recent court case that saw 14 counties sue the state for roughly $1 billion, alleging that the state had limited logging in state forests and deprived those counties of revenue. Josephine, Klamath, Douglas, and Coos counties all joined in the lawsuit, and jurors sided in their favor at the end of November.
State-owned forest lands account for only a fraction of Oregon's timber bounty. Roughly 60 percent of the state's forests are owned and operated by agencies in the federal government. About 35 percent of Oregon's forests are privately owned, while the state owns around four percent.
There are small pockets of state-owned forest in Josephine and Douglas counties, but the Gilchrist and Sun Pass forests in Klamath County represent a much larger source of income.
Across the state, Clatsop, Tillamook, and Washington counties earned by far the most in timber revenue — with upwards of $19, $24, and $14 million, respectively — from the massive Clatsop and Tillamook state forests.
In all, logging on state lands yielded about 297 million board feet of timber throughout the year, ODF said.
Oregon has continued to shed timber workers and the amount of timber harvested since the 1970s, but the biggest decline in logging has come from federal lands, where logging is down almost 90 percent according to the Associated Press.
In its yearly report on timber revenus and conservation efforts, ODF said that it replanted more than 3.1 million trees, hosted nearly 40,000 campers, and maintained about 339 miles of trail in 2019.
“ODF manages these healthy working forests for a balance of benefits over time for all Oregonians, and we’re proud of the accomplishments that this report highlights,” State Forester Peter Daugherty said.