We recently wrote about Crag’s work on the Tillamook State Forest, which attempts to address the discharge of sediment and stormwater from logging roads used to haul timber to the mills. This week Michael Milstein from the Oregonian wrote a good article on the threats posed to the Tillamook’s world class coho streams as a result of logging and increased industrial activity on public land.

As the article discusses, logging impacts watersheds in many different subtle and complicated ways. One of the most understood impacts results from the discharge of sediment in stormwater from logging roads. Many roads in the Tillamook run parallel to coho rivers, and logging trucks crush up gravel and produce fine sediment on the road surface. The Oregon Department of Forestry built and maintains drainage systems that route stormwater directly into adjacent rivers through ditches, culverts and pipes. When it rains the stormwater carries extremely elevated levels of sediment directly into coho streams.

This photo shows sediment being discharged directly upstream of a salmon spawning survey area. These discharges occur every time it rains on locations throughout the Tillamook, and timber hauling exacerbates the problem. Crag is working with its partners to get these discharges regulated under the Clean Water Act as point source discharges that require a permit, so that ODF and the timber companies will have to ensure that the sediment does not degrade habitat for coho and other salmon and steelhead species.

Oregon has much work to do in order to address the past and curernt impacts of logging on our state lands. Clean water and healthy runs of salmon and steelhead are integral to the state’s rural economy. The coastal coho is listed as threatened under the ESA, and increased logging will only exacerbate the problem. Now is not the time to increase the cut on the Tillamook State Forest.