Saturday, January 17, 2009

I present here animage representing the extent of logging in Oregon. It started off as an image from Google Earth; it represents a section of land in southwestern Oregon about 10km north-to-south and 8km east-to-west, centered on (roughly) 43º 28' N, 123º 53' W. I then spent time closely examining the terrain, and color-coding it to represent the age of the most recent logging on the land. The dark green areas represent older forest, not touched by logging in the last 50 years. The light green represents areas that were logged, in my estimate, 30 to 50 years ago. Next come the yellow areas, which I guess to have been logged 20 to 30 years ago. The light orange areas represent sections that have been logged 10 to 20 years ago. Darker orange is for sections logged 5 to 10 years ago. Red is for areas that have been logged within the last five years. Gray areas represent roads, creekbeds, areas around structures, or areas that I could not categorize. 

I suspect that I have been overly generous in assigning dark green areas; some deeply shaded slopes are hard to assess. They should not be assumed to be virgin forest; there is very, very little virgin forest left in southwestern Oregon. These are probably dry areas of very slow growth, whose larger trees were taken more than 50 years ago and have not been logged since then because they are both rugged and slow to regenerate. Brown would probably have been a better color to use.

Although remote from population centers and having few roads through it, this area is not quite a typical section of southwestern Oregon; it has a greater density of red than the average terrain in that area. However, most of southwestern Oregon, if mapped in this fashion, would be similar except for having less red. But it gives you an idea of just how pristine the forests of Oregon truly are.

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