Fish & Fisheries
Forestry & Wood Products
An Oregon Perspective on Environment & Natural Resources
Education and Outreach Coordinator
Several recent reports have revealed that rural Oregonians suffer disproportionate unemployment and poverty. Not only are Oregon's rural communities not experiencing the economic growth enjoyed by our urban centers, they are falling even further behind. Most often, this gap is linked to the decline of natural resource-based industries, with a resulting loss of over 30,000 jobs in the timber industry alone and increased dependence on tourism and service industry jobs in rural areas.
There is also no question that Oregon's forests, rangelands and watersheds have suffered over the last century. If we are to protect threatened and endangered species, habitat restoration is necessary. What should be recognized is that not only will environmental restoration lead to recovery of endangered species, including salmon; it will also lead to the recovery of our rural communities.
Appropriately scaled and sustainable natural resource industries can be developed to provide stable family-wage employment in rural areas now and into the future.
Farmers, ranchers, fishermen and foresters, as the people working closest to the ground, are stewards of our state's natural resources. As we build a sustainable Oregon, the traditional adversarial relationships between environmental interests and resource managers are disappearing. The focus of environmental efforts is beginning to shift towards developing better resource management and improving the habitat value of commercial lands.
We will also see agricultural, ranching and timber communities moving away from lowest-cost production for commodity markets and towards production and direct marketing of value-added goods. Getting out of commodity production will create more jobs in rural communities and keep more of the profits at home.