Research Paper

Asked February 4, 2015, 2:17 PM EST

I'm conducting research on the loss and degradation of salmon spawning habitat due to forest practices. Specifically, how much impact has forest habitat loss and degradation had on salmon populations? I was hoping you could help by pointing me in the direction of some websites or publications that address this specific topic. There's a lot of info out there and I'm having a hard time finding a good starting point. Thanks for your help. I'm in Salem, Oregon so local impacts (Pacific North-West) are what I'm hoping to include the most. Thanks again.

Marion County Oregon

1 Response

The Oregon Forest Practices Act (OFPA) was created to minimize the effects of deforestation and other forest management activities on air quality, water quality, and forest organisms, including salmonids. It is not possible to totally eliminate the effects of forest management activities on wildlife, especially salmonids, and so the OFPA is reviewed periodically and updated as new or long-term research shows gaps in its ability to protect aquatic species. Most recently, the Oregon Board of Forestry has been revising and updating the rules for protection of riparian management areas. Those revised rules should be available for review and public comment shortly, and I am interested to see what they have changed and to read their reasoning behind the proposed changes.

I agree with you, there is a whole lot of information out there about the effects of forest practices on salmonids, but much of it is not peer-reviewed science, or is conducted by groups that have a significant stake in the outcome of the research (potential research bias). I have depended heavily on the results from long-term paired-watershed studies conducted by independent researchers and presented in peer-reviewed publications and presentations. There have been a number of paired-watershed studies conducted recently, and many of those studies are now approaching 10-years duration. The ones that I have looked at are the Alsea and Trask paired-watershed studies, and the Hinkle Creek study. The descriptions of each of these study areas and methodologies and the results of these studies have been posted on the Cooperative Watersheds Research Center website at watershedsresearch.org.

Rather than give you my opinion of the results from these studies, I encourage you to review the information about the studies and their results and then form an opinion for yourself about how forest management activities affect water quality and salmonid populations and reproduction. Once you have developed your own opinions about forest management and its effect on samonids, please feel free to contact me either by email at frank.burris@oregonstate.edu or call me 541-247-0130 and we can discuss what you have read and I can suggest follow-up reading to provide further background for you remaining questions.

Another resource you may want to look at is the OSU Extension publication called "Oregon's Forest Protection Laws; an illustrated manual." Faculty from the College of Forestry at Oregon State University have worked hard to create a publication that makes the OFPA rules more understandable and that converts the legalese language of the OFPA into common language that forest manager can understand. The manual is available online at http://oregonforests.org/sites/default/files/publications/pdf/OR_For_Protect_Laws_2011.pdf .

If you are not used to reviewing publications from peer-reviewed research, it can be rather daunting when you first try. Don't hesitate to contact me for clarification of jargon, or how to glean the essence of results from research studies. Good luck on your research paper.