Questions and Answers
Oregon’s forest laws and regulations are very complicated, and the rules are still being developed for the most recent set of new laws. However, we encourage you to ask your questions about Oregon’s forest laws and regulations, and we’ll try to answer them.
Here are links to resources for you to learn more:
- Oregon’s Forest Protection Laws: An Illustrated Manual
- Full Forest Practice Administrative Rules and Forest Practices Act
Below is a list of the questions and answers that have been asked by users like you, who want to know more about Oregon’s forest laws and regulations. These questions were posed to and answered by professional foresters.
What is Oregon’s law regarding replanting?
The Oregon Forest Practices Act (OFPA) requires forestland owners to replant after harvesting timber. A landowner must establish the next generation of trees soon after a harvest. The trees must be planted within two years, and they must be evenly distributed and free to grow (free from competing vegetation) within six years. This is a higher standard than simply replanting seedlings.
Shouldn’t Oregon’s Forest Practices Act, passed in 1971, be updated to modern scientific standards?
The Oregon Forest Practices Act (OFPA) has evolved since it was first passed in 1971 as the nation’s first comprehensive set of regulations governing forest practices. The Oregon Legislature has amended the act 20 times over the succeeding four decades, and the Oregon Board of Forestry has modified the state’s forest practices administrative rules and regulations dozens of times to meet the law’s requirements. Most recently, the Legislature passed a law in 2022 that will bring a number of significant changes to the act, mostly related to expanding protections for fish and amphibians that rely on forested aquatic habitats. And the act will continue to be revised in response to both science and experience.
Is the property owner responsible for weed control after clearcutting their land?
Weed control is not addressed in the Oregon Forest Practices Act (OFPA). However, effective reforestation is. The landowner is required to begin the reforestation process within 12 months of a timber harvest, have trees planted within two years of harvest and have 200 trees per acres "established" as "free to grow" (free from being smothered by competing vegetation) within six years of harvest. That may require weed control or it may not, depending on the site. If the reforestation effort fails due to excessive competition from uncontrolled weeds, the landowner may be fined.
Some counties do have noxious weed ordinances, however, and landowners with noxious weeds on their properties are encouraged to control them.
I've heard that private timberland owners have to get the permission of those living within 5 miles to log one's own land. Is this true?
There is no law in Oregon requiring landowners to get permission from any neighbors before logging. Logging on all private land in Oregon is governed exclusively by the Oregon Forest Practices Act. Unlike in some states, Oregon counties are not allowed to have their own forestry rules. The exception to this is that within urban growth boundaries, municipalities are allowed to have tree ordinances that could govern forestry within those boundaries. A private landowner, or someone working on their behalf, must file a notification to operate with the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) at least 14 days before a logging operation is to begin. In certain cases, such as operating near a fish stream, a landslide-prone landform or protected wildlife species habitat, a written plan must be filed. Citizens, including neighbors, can get access to these notifications, and landowners are encouraged to notify their neighbors of plans to log. However, no permission from any neighbors, or public is required.
Anyone can subscribe to receive copies of notifications and updates from ODF about forest operations through the agency’s Forest Activity Electronic Reporting and Notification System (FERNS). Subscribers to the e-notification system will receive email alerts and can view notifications, related maps and written plans. Create an online account through FERNS to subscribe: https://ferns.odf.oregon.gov/E-Notification/
Is logging allowed very close to a creek or river? Is the landowner required to get a permit?
Timber harvest on private timberland in Oregon is regulated by the Oregon Forest Practices Act. Landowners or their loggers are required to file a Notification of Operations at least 14 days prior to any timber harvest with the Oregon Department of Forestry. They are generally required to leave buffers of unharvested trees along both sides of any streams that contain fish or have a registered domestic water source. Please refer to our water protection page for more information.
If you have concerns about a specific piece of property, you should contact an Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) stewardship forester in the area where the land in question is located. The following link has can be used to access a list of all ODF offices and stewardship foresters for each region of the state: http://www.oregon.gov/odf/privateforests/pages/findforester.aspx.
Is there anything in Oregon forestry law that designates the hours in the day that companies may or may not be harvesting trees?
Chainsaws, log trucks and other equipment can be very loud in the early morning when you are trying to sleep, but there is nothing in Oregon forestry law that limits how early logging operations can begin in the day, as long as they can be conducted safely.
During fire season, however, there are limits as to how late loggers can run chainsaws and other motorized equipment in the woods. When areas of the state are in Industrial Fire Precaution Level II, chainsaws and other motorized equipment generally need to stop running at 1 p.m. and can't start up until after 8 p.m. During fire season, loggers usually try to start work as soon as it is light enough to work safely. If the loggers don't start early, they don't get a full day's work in before the 1 p.m. shutdown. When fire danger gets to Industrial Fire Precaution Level III, chainsaws and motorized equipment are not allowed to be used off the roads. At Industrial Fire Precaution Level IV, which means the fire danger level is extreme, the woods are closed and become much quieter.