The Oregon Plan

Nick Napier, Dave Rainey, Wayne Giesy, and Bill Hagenstein at the Portland Wholesale Lumber Association's 2010 annual meeting in Portland, Oregon. Wayne has promoted his idea for improved management of Oregon's federal lands to forest industry, environmental organizations, and elected officials for the past 30 years, during which time it first became known as the "Giesy Plan," and then after discussion and modification via these contacts, by its current name, the "Oregon Plan."

[UPDATES, 2014-2017: This site was launched in 2013. An article based on this webpage was published April, 2014 in Oregon Fish & Wildlife Journal and can be found at this location:

In early April 2016, following a year of consultations with top forest industry representatives and regional elected officials, Giesy was advised to slightly revise the basic "Oregon Plan" -- in part by renaming it the "Giesy Plan" -- and reformatting its 2-page summary by focusing on the proposal's outcomes:

Later in April 2016, after revising his proposal along the lines suggested by reviewers, Giesy subsequently emailed his updated proposal to a focused group of legislators, industrial representatives, forest managers, and scientists with the following cover letter:

During the summer of 2016, Oregon Senator Ted Ferrioli suggested that Giesy submit his plan as a proposal for managing the Elliott State Forest, which had been put up for public sale. Ferrioli then arranged for two private meetings between Giesy and Governor Kate Brown to discuss this idea. The resulting proposal has been well-enough received that in December 2016 it was officially accepted as an ORWW project and an informational website was launched on February 16, 2017:].


Sometime in 1983, after Wayne Giesy first began work as an employee of Ralph Hull, of Hull-Oakes Lumber Co. in Dawson, Oregon, Wayne approached Ralph with his concerns on increasing environmental actions to restrict logging activities on federal lands. At that time Wayne thought, in order to secure a stable supply of logs from BLM O&C Lands -- where Hull-Oakes then obtained most of its raw materials -- a deal should be made between the forest industry and the environmental organizations to divide the disputed lands into two portions: 1/2 for environmental purposes and 1/2 for public product needs (see: Giesy 2008a). After nearly a year considering this idea, Ralph gave Wayne the authorization and encouragement needed to present the idea to other forest industry leaders, with full backing of Hull-Oakes Lumber Co.

When Wayne first presented his idea to a number of forest industry leaders he was openly laughed at, and accused of "giving away the farm" by other members of these groups who couldn't conceive of the environmental organizations having enough power or credibility to obtain such a major commitment of public resources. At that time local loggers and sawmill owners had access to perhaps 85% of the standing federal timber in Oregon; today that number is much closer to 15%, as the remainder has been dedicated to "critical habitat" for Threatened and Endangered Species, riparian "reserves," Wilderness, roadless areas, and other designated "set asides."

Wayne's idea first became publicly known through an editorial written and published by long-time and well-respected Albany Democrat-Herald editor, Haso Herring, in May 2003. Although Herring's editorial focused more on Wayne's suggestions on how to deal with salvage from recent western Oregon Wildfires rather than a basic division of all federal lands, he used the name "Giesy Plan" to label Wayne's thoughts: "The Giesy plan sounds visionary because it is based on common sense and assumes that obstacles can be overcome. That's the way most Americans used to think. Would that more of us did so now."

The name "Giesy Plan" soon came to more often to represent Wayne's original proposal, as it had been used for some time prior to the Herring editorial. Although its influence is generally not recognized or acknowledged in ongoing debates regarding the same problems that existed 30 years ago, current proposals strongly mirror Giesy's original proposed suggestions and certainly have their basis in his unvarying advocacy. During the past two years, for example, there has been significant political discussion concerning the need to resolve the long-standing debate between forest industry and environmental groups in regards to the O&C Lands in western Oregon. Every one of these efforts has focused on a division of public forestlands between competing timber production, environmental preserves, and riparian reserves -- as first suggested by Wayne in the early 1980's, and as actively advocated by him ever since. Current examples follow:

In 2012 Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber formed an O&C Lands task force to address the problem of those forests to meet their federally mandated obligations. On February 6, 2013 the task force released a 96-page report that offered a series of options -- each based upon Giesy's principal suggestion that the lands be divided between the opposing factions and managed according to their individual perspectives. A series of graphs on page 46 of the report illustrated each of the proposed options, each one being based on Giesy's basic argument to divide the land between resource production and forest preservation:

Also in 2012, Oregon Congressmen Peter DeFazio, Greg Walden, and Kurt Schrader developed a proposal, integrating the Kitzhaber report and based on the same concept developed by Giesy regarding the division of federal forestlands. The resulting proposed legislation, called the DeFazio-Schrader-Walden O&C Bill, was included by fellow Congressman Doc Hasting as part of the successful House Bill 1526. It has been generally supported by western Oregon members of the forest industry, but opposed by numerous environmental organizations, such as Oregon Wild, a long-time activist group based in Eugene, Oregon.

Simultaneous to Governor Kitzhaber's efforts and those of Oregon's bipartisan Congressional team, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden -- initially working with fellow Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley -- has been fashioning a separate solution to the western Oregon O&C Lands stalemate, generally referred to as "the Wyden Bill." Senator Wyden's efforts began in 2011 and are based on a "legislative framework" he developed that features as its basis: "The legislation will create wilderness and other permanent land use designations whose primary management focus will be to maintain and enhance conservation attributes. This acreage will be roughly equivalent to lands designated for sustainable harvest"; i.e., the same approximate 50/50 split first suggested by Giesy more than 30 years ago, and actively promoted to the Senator, his staff, and many others ever since. Wyden's proposal was publicly released on November 26, 2013, and was immediately opposed by most environmental organizations, such as Oregon Wild, and by the major western Oregon timber industries in a co-sponsored press release. On the following day the American Forest Resouce Council -- which generally favored the DeFazio Bill -- released a more critical response through their monthly AFRC Newsletter.

A more detailed look at the Oregon Plan [since revised in April, 2016] -- and the need for corrective management of federal lands in Oregon and in the remaining western States -- illustrates the basic dependency of the Kitzhaber O&C Report, House Bill 1526, and the Wyden proposal on Wayne's original concerns and recommendations:

Page 1. Proposes a division of US Forest Service lands in the 11 western states as: 40% for environmental concerns; 10% for riparian protection; and 50% "to produce products for the American public," with certain conditions and restrictions. Ten "benefits" of adopting this idea are also listed, including: rural jobs, elimination of county payments, reduced imports, improved international balance of payments, reduced wildfire risk, enhanced wildlife habitat, and an elimination of  existing "negative activities" by both sides of the debate.

Page 2. Offers modifications to the original proposal, following consultations with both environmental and timber management proponents, with management divisions being made along watershed boundaries.

Page 3. A 2010 report using Oregon Department of Employment figures, showing 72,000 jobs lost in Oregon from 1989-2008 due to reduced forest management levels; and compared to 88,000 Oregon government jobs created during the same time period.

Page 4. A graphic comparison of the relative amounts of federal land contained in each of the eleven western states as compared to federal land holdings in the 37 eastern states (Hawaii and Alaska are not shown).

Page 5. Two graphs depicting the increasing trends of both total wildfire acres burned annually in the US, and for average size of each wildfire during the 1960-2006 time period: with sharp increases in both trends beginning in the early 1990s.

Page 6. A bar graph comparing Net Growth of US Forest Lands compared to Product Removals for the same lands during the 1952-2004 time period: 52 years in which forest growth has always exceeded harvests, and in which the greatest disparities between the two correlate strongly with the increased wildfire trends shown on Page 5.

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