Connect with your roots

For centuries, people have been drawn to Oregon by its beautiful scenery, natural abundance and, especially, its forests. As more and more people arrived, these forests gave way to towns, cities and highways. But through a modern dedication to sustainability, Oregon retains nearly 92 percent of the forest that covered the state in 1850. This is a testament to the commitment Oregonians made to the long-term survival of our forests and the important resources they provide.

1700s
Prior to European settlement, native peoples manage forestland primarily through the use of seasonal burning to increase browse for deer and elk.
1805
Lewis and Clark travel with their party to the mouth of the Columbia River.
1827
The first sawmill is built in the Pacific Northwest.
1833
The first shipment of Oregon timber is sent to China.
1859
Congress ratifies the Oregon State Constitution, and the state is admitted to the Union.
1862
The Homestead Act allows 160 acres to those who would live on and work the land.
1870
There are 173 sawmills in Oregon, 138 of which use water power.
1883
The transcontinental railroad is completed, opening distribution of forest products to the east.
1892
The Bull Run Reserve is set aside as Oregon’s first forest reserve.
1897
The Organic Act recognizes broad federal power and allows for fire protection and limited timber sales. The Forest Reserve Act expands the National Forest system.
1898
Gifford Pinchot becomes chief of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Division of Forestry.
1905
The USDA Forest Service is created to conserve forest resources and stabilize markets. The first plywood plant is built in St. Johns.
1911
The Oregon Legislature establishes the Oregon Department of Forestry.
1927
National Forests contribute about 5 percent of Oregon's lumber production.
1929
Oregon has 608 lumber mills, five paper mills, 64 planing mills and 47 furniture factories.
1930-1950
In three separate events, the Tillamook Burn destroys 355,000 acres of Oregon’s finest timber, or 13.1 billion board feet.
1935
The chainsaw is invented.
1938
Oregon surpasses Washington as the leading timber producer in the country.
1939
Oregon adopts the Douglas-fir as the official state tree.
1941
Oregon law requires reforestation after timber harvest.
1947
Oregon has 1,573 lumber mills turning out more than 7 billion board feet annually.
1962
The Columbus Day windstorm causes extensive damage to forests in Oregon. Salvage harvest opens Japanese markets.
1970
The National Environmental Policy Act is enacted.
1971
The Oregon Legislature enacts The Oregon Forest Practices Act, becoming the first state to create a comprehensive set of laws governing the practice of forestry.
1973
Statewide land use planning is approved. Congress passes the Endangered Species Act.
1976
The National Forest Management Act passes, providing for harvest practices that preserve biological diversity and meet multiple-use objectives. The act restricts clearcutting, but does not prohibit it.
1987
Fires burn 245,000 acres of Oregon timber worth an estimated $97.3 million.
1989
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lists the northern spotted owl as a threatened species in Washington, Oregon and northern California.
1991
The Oregon Legislature creates the Oregon Forest Resources Institute to improve public understanding of Oregon’s forest resources and to encourage environmentally sound forest management.
1996
Major fires burn hundreds of thousands of acres of forestland, much of it in Oregon’s National Forests.
TODAY
Today Oregon’s forests are managed through a cooperative and coordinated effort on the part of federal and state agencies and private landowners. Nearly every acre of Oregon’s forestland has a Forest Management Plan.
1700s
Prior to European settlement, native peoples manage forestland primarily through the use of seasonal burning to increase browse for deer and elk.
1805
Lewis and Clark travel with their party to the mouth of the Columbia River.
1827
The first sawmill is built in the Pacific Northwest.
1833
The first shipment of Oregon timber is sent to China.
1859
Congress ratifies the Oregon State Constitution, and the state is admitted to the Union.
1862
The Homestead Act allows 160 acres to those who would live on and work the land.
1870
There are 173 sawmills in Oregon, 138 of which use water power.
1883
The transcontinental railroad is completed, opening distribution of forest products to the east.
1892
The Bull Run Reserve is set aside as Oregon’s first forest reserve.
1897
The Organic Act recognizes broad federal power and allows for fire protection and limited timber sales. The Forest Reserve Act expands the National Forest system.
1898
Gifford Pinchot becomes chief of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Division of Forestry.
1905
The USDA Forest Service is created to conserve forest resources and stabilize markets. The first plywood plant is built in St. Johns.
1911
The Oregon Legislature establishes the Oregon Department of Forestry.
1927
National Forests contribute about 5 percent of Oregon's lumber production.
1929
Oregon has 608 lumber mills, five paper mills, 64 planing mills and 47 furniture factories.
1930-1950
In three separate events, the Tillamook Burn destroys 355,000 acres of Oregon’s finest timber, or 13.1 billion board feet.
1935
The chainsaw is invented.
1938
Oregon surpasses Washington as the leading timber producer in the country.
1939
Oregon adopts the Douglas-fir as the official state tree.
1941
Oregon law requires reforestation after timber harvest.
1947
Oregon has 1,573 lumber mills turning out more than 7 billion board feet annually.
1962
The Columbus Day windstorm causes extensive damage to forests in Oregon. Salvage harvest opens Japanese markets.
1970
The National Environmental Policy Act is enacted.
1971
The Oregon Legislature enacts The Oregon Forest Practices Act, becoming the first state to create a comprehensive set of laws governing the practice of forestry.
1973
Statewide land use planning is approved. Congress passes the Endangered Species Act.
1976
The National Forest Management Act passes, providing for harvest practices that preserve biological diversity and meet multiple-use objectives. The act restricts clearcutting, but does not prohibit it.
1987
Fires burn 245,000 acres of Oregon timber worth an estimated $97.3 million.
1989
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lists the northern spotted owl as a threatened species in Washington, Oregon and northern California.
1991
The Oregon Legislature creates the Oregon Forest Resources Institute to improve public understanding of Oregon’s forest resources and to encourage environmentally sound forest management.
1996
Major fires burn hundreds of thousands of acres of forestland, much of it in Oregon’s National Forests.
TODAY
Today Oregon’s forests are managed through a cooperative and coordinated effort on the part of federal and state agencies and private landowners. Nearly every acre of Oregon’s forestland has a Forest Management Plan.

Much of the information included in this timeline was sourced through Oregon Public Broadcasting at: http://www.opb.org/programs/oregonstory/logging/timeline.html