||Elk River has one of the last large stands of old-growth
Port-Orford-cedar. This unique keystone riparian species is found growing wild only in a
limited geographic area of southwest Oregon and northwest California. Prized for its
strength, straight grain and decay-resistant wood which doesnt splinter, it is a
favorite wood for arrow shafts and florist boughs.
Sacred tree. Port-Orford-cedar is precious to both Native Americans and the Japanese. Asians will pay dearly to have a little piece for their home altar, because Port-Orford-cedar is similar to their native hinoki cedar. Native Americans consider this magnificent tree a healer:
Port-Orford-cedars need special protection. The Elk Rivers increasingly-rare Port-Orford-cedar is at risk from two threats: a fungus which can be spread through roaded areas, and from federally-permitted logging.
Killer fungus. The Port-Orford-cedar is vulnerable to the deadly Phytophthora lateralis root disease, a fungus which spreads its spores both in water and soil. When infected soil is transported on vehicle tires, boots, mountain bikes, and logging trucks to uninfected areas, the disease can then colonize other Port-Orford-cedar roots. If the infected tree is near a waterway, the disease spreads rapidly downstream.
"Salvage" logging. The federal Northwest Forest Plan permits "salvage" logging. This loophole will likely lead to preemptive "salvage" logging of Port-Orford-cedar. Why? Because this special species, unlike other federal timber, can be exported. It commands a price five times higher than Douglas-fir a single tree can bring up to $50,000 on the open market.
Worst of both. "Salvage" logging combines both threats. The USFS will be strongly motivated to "salvage" log Port-Orford-cedar to offset timber sales which lose money. Further, they claim that logging will "treat" the fungal disease: removing the diseased trees and their healthy neighbors will eliminate spread of the disease. FOER believes that salvage activities will increase spread of the disease, in a vicious cycle of destruction.