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Small Woodlands Management

Oregon’s Forest Practices Act

The Forest Practices Act was implemented in 1971, the first act of its kind in the nation. It outlines management practices that foresters must consider when planning timber harvests on state or private lands. The act regulates written plans, reforestation, clear-cutting, road construction and maintenance, and the protection of water resources and wildlife habitat. Forest regulations and practices are updated regularly based on scientific research, so stay informed.

Notification of Operation and Application for permit is required when conducting any activity related to growing or harvesting forested tree species including spraying, road construction, and use of machinery. You must file an application if you intend to sell or barter trees that you cut or if your activities are related to forestry production for profit. The application must be filed with the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) 15 days prior to starting work. The application is then electronically sent to the Department of Revenue by ODF for tax purposes.

Application to Operate Power-Driven Machinery: This permit is encouraged if you are working within 1/8 mile of, or in a forest protection district, even if the forestry practices being conducted are not related to for-profit forestry. This permit reduces an individual’s liability when doing any type of work with power-driven machinery in these areas. If this application is not filed and you cause a forest fire, you are 100 percent liable for all damages.

Update! The rules of the Forest Practices Act has been updated this year and are in effect as of January 1, 2024. These changes may affect the operation of small forestland owners, riparian management areas, roads and culverts, and a new notification system for operation. Read this FPA fact sheet to learn more, and reach out to your local forester or the new Small Forestland Owner office to get direct assistance!

Forest Management Plan

If you plan on engaging in forestry, you should first develop a management plan. A current forest management plan can help you qualify for grants and conservation programs through ODF and other agencies. ODF can provide assistance in developing a plan. Private consultants are another option to landowners for developing a plan. They can also assist you in marketing logs, or overseeing a logging operation. Professional assistance can help save you money and minimize mistakes.

Hiring a forester

When having work done on your property it is very important to know who you are hiring before they come onto your property with a chain saw. Landowners should ask for credentials and references from the logger, and ask to see some past work prior to having any work done. The Association of Oregon Loggers (AOL) provides a list of certified loggers. There are many forestry operations that can cause damage and expose you to liability.

Succession Planning

Developing a property succession plan will aid in the process of passing woodland property to the next generation. Without a plan, the new landowner will be obligated to pay the federal inheritance tax that is roughly 50 percent of the appraised property value. This can put great pressure on the family to sell the land to a developer or harvest the wood resource to pay the tax. “Ties to the Land” is an organization that works to educate families on planning for property succession


After trees have been harvested from a site the landowner is required to replant within two years. Once the trees are planted it is up to the landowner to maintain those trees for the next four years. After four years a tree is considered “free to grow” on its own. When buying property that appears to have been harvested without any new planting, check with ODF for the current status of the site.

Forest Health

A healthy forest has trees that are resistant to disease, insect infestation and animal damage. There should be a diverse mix of plant species, with healthy vegetation at all levels of vertical area, with trees being spaced far enough apart to minimize nutrient competition between them. Biodiversity is important in creating a resilient forest ecosystem that can better recover from natural disasters, pests, and climate change impacts.

Check out this Storymap to learn about the Forest Health Summary from 2022.


By maintaining a diversity of trees appropriate to the site, you will encourage the overall health of the forest. Tree species should be selected based on soil and climatic conditions.

New trees require protection from competing vegetation to help improve their survival rate. In addition to species diversity, forests should also have trees of various ages.


Thinning is the process of removing trees to improve your forest’s growth, health and vigor. Thinning creates more light, water and nutrients for the remaining trees. It reduces the loss of trees due to pathogens, increases resistance to wildfire, drought, and insect infestation. Thinning also offers an opportunity to encourage species diversity and better prevent the spread of wildfire in a forest.

Disease and Pests

Root diseases and insect pests are the most common threats to trees in this region. They often take advantage of trees that are weakened by other stressors, such as drought, storm damage, fire, etc.
They can spread to neighboring trees and even destroy entire stands. If you think your forest is diseased or infested, contact a local forester or the nearest ODF office for assistance in identifying the problem and responding appropriately

ODF Stewardship Foresters

Oregon Department of Forestry’s Stewardship Foresters provide services to woodland owners that support them in improving forest health, fish and wildlife habitat soil and water quality, recreation opportunities and aesthetics of private forests. Their services include information, technical assistance, and financial incentives.

Contact Us

Our team is ready to help you with small woodlands management.

Chelsea Blank
Natural Areas Planner
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