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Riparian Zone Management in the Pacific Northwest: Who's Cutting What?


sp.), regional governments now restrict timber harvest in riparian forests. I summarize and assess the riparian zone management guidelines of the states of California, Oregon, and Washington (USA) and the province of British Columbia (Canada). Only Oregon and British Columbia protect fish-bearing streams with “no-harvest” zones, and only the wider (20–50 m) no-harvest zones for larger fish-bearing streams in British Columbia are likely to maintain near-natural linkages between riparian and stream ecosystems. All four jurisdictions protect most streams with “management zones” of variable width, in which timber harvest activities are restricted. All the management zone guidelines permit the harvest of the largest conifers from riparian forests and will, if applied over a series of timber harvest rotations (60–80 years), result in the continued removal of potential sources of large woody debris from the region's watersheds. All four jurisdictions require additional protection for streams and watersheds that are severely degraded or (in the United States) contain threatened or endangered species. The governments of the PNW have taken a “manage until degraded, then protect” approach to riparian forest management that is unlikely to maintain or restore the full suite of riparian-stream linkages necessary for lotic ecosystems to function naturally at the stream, watershed, basin, or regional scale.

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Young, K. Riparian Zone Management in the Pacific Northwest: Who's Cutting What?. Environmental Management 26, 131–144 (2000).

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  • KEY WORDS: Riparian zones; Stream ecosystems; Forestry; Salmon; Conservation; Pacific Northwest