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FOREST SOILS

Brochure 4 in Soil Survey Series

Forest Productivity Ratings

January 21, 2004
Land Use Committee
Hugo Neighborhood Association & Historical Society
Member of the CACNA Coalition

Forest Soils1

Soil Survey.  There are 111 soils identified in the Soil Survey.  Sixty-seven (67) were rated for their forest productivity as suitable for production of commercial trees (pages 181 - 185, Table 6).  Twenty-two of these forest soils were also identified as farmland soils (pages 178 - 180, Table 5). 

Oregon Statewide Goal 4 — Forest Lands2

The Goal 4 definition of “forest lands” requires analysis of

(1) whether the land is suitable for commercial forest uses;

(2) whether the land is necessary to permit forest operations or practices on adjacent or nearby forest lands; and

(3) whether the forested land is necessary to maintain soil, air, water and fish and wildlife resources . . .

An affirmative answer to any one of those criteria renders the land “forest land” under Goal 4.  DLCD v. Curry County, 33 Or LUBA 728 (1997).

Soil Surveys.  The Natural Resources Conservation Service soil surveys are the main or most readily available, and most universally accepted, source of information regarding farm and forest capabilities.  The soil surveys not only provide what is often the only data available; the methodology used in the soil surveys serves as the bench mark for gathering new or additional data.

Value Of Survey - Non-Rated Soils

Unrated Soils.  Forty-four (44) (40%) of the county’s 111 soils were not assigned a forest productivity rating by the Soil Survey.

What if the soils in question are not one of the 67 soils rated for their forest productivity as suitable for production of commercial trees?   Are these soils not forest soils and not forest land?  They might not be, but they might be as the definition of forest land is much broader than forest productivity ratings.

LUBA Opinions

LUBA ruled that designation of land as agricultural land does not, of itself, mean the land is not also suited to protection as forest land. Westfair Associates Partnership v. Lane County, 25 Or LUBA 729, 737 (1993).

LUBA has held that the county can not assume that soils that had not been assigned internal rates of return are non-forest soils. Doob vs. Josephine County, 31 Or LUBA 275 (1996).  The county cannot exempt from the required soils evaluation all soils in the county which have not been rated.

LUBA ruled that a Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) non-rating provides no information, quantitative or otherwise, pertinent to the statutory test of whether a soil is capable of producing defined levels of wood fiber (ORS 215.750; OAR  Carlson v. Benton County, 34 Or LUBA 140, 149 (1998).

More Information

Although the first settlers in Josephine County were engaged in mainly gold mining, lumbering and farming soon became important industries.  The timber industry became more important when railroad service began in 1880s.  Production of lumber to be shipped to distant markets became the county’s leading industry.  Demand for lumber during World War II resulted in a tremendous expansion of the timber industry.

Would you like to learn more about the Soil Survey of Josephine County, Oregon and/or the soils of your property?  Consider contacting:

Dennis E. Hutchison
Certified Professional Soil Scientist/Classifier
1578 Joelson Road
Umpqua, OR 97486
Phone: 541-673-9783
Email: pjhdeh@wizzards.net

This brochure is one of five in the “soil survey” series.

1.         Soil Survey
2.         2nd & 3rd Order Soil Surveys
3.         Agricultural Soils
4.         Forest Soils
5.         On-Site Soil Investigations

 

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2012 Hugo Neighborhood Association & Historical Society