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An Oregon Perspective on Environment & Natural Resources

Matt Buck
Education and Outreach Coordinator
Sustainable Northwest

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.

Featured Case Study

North Coast Salmonid Habitat Restoration Project

This committee includes timberland and small woodlot owners, agencies, and the Oregon Wildlife Heritage Foundation. They work to rehabilitate streams and riparian areas to bring coho salmon back into the streams and the economy of Oregon's coast.
Source: Sustainable Northwest

[ Full Story ]

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Oregon State of the Environment Report 2000

Commissioned by the Oregon Progress Board and prepared by a panel of 15 volunteer scientists with support from over 40 others, the study was led by Dr. Paul Risser, president of Oregon State University.

In accepting the report, the governor said, "The report is a valuable tool for policymakers. The data and interpretation provide a comprehensive baseline and a shared analytical framework to consider future decisions about natural resource management and economic and environmental sustainability."

See [ Full Report ]

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