Weyerhaeuser Adds 89,000 Acres to Free Access Program in Oregon

February 14, 2022 - #timberlands #Community Support

The Barney Reservoir from Weyerhaeuser ownership. The popular recreational destination and the surrounding property is owned by the city of Hillsboro. The main access road from the east to the reservoir is owned by Weyerhaeuser and is made available through the state’s Access & Habitat Program.

 

This fall, just in time for elk season, 89,000 acres of Weyerhaeuser land in northwest Oregon were added to a free recreational access program lauded by hunters and recreationists across the state.

The property will be available to the public year-round for the next three years through the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Access & Habitat Program. In return, the program funds some of the extra costs we incur for activities such as road maintenance and security.

The land — primarily located in Lincoln, Polk, Tillamook and Yamhill counties — extends along the Oregon Coast Range in temperate forests of Douglas-fir, Western hemlock, Western red cedar and red alder. 

“It’s great for hunting, horseback riding, biking, fishing, hiking and sightseeing,” says Scott Marlega, Willamette Valley land use manager. “And it provides access to popular destinations like the Siletz River Gorge, Barney reservoir and the Valley of the Giants.”

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Scott Marlega, land use manager, took this photo of his father-in-law and niece glassing a unit looking for elk. The area is easily accessible from the nearby communities of McMinnville and Forest Grove.

 

MORE THAN 180,000 ACRES OF FREE ACCESS

The newly opened acreage is expected to be especially popular with hunters, who regularly query Weyerhaeuser and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife about access to our properties.

“The Weyerhaeuser access project provides the public with year-round ‘Welcome to Hunt,’ no-fee access for big and small game species,” says Jason Kirchner, ODFW district wildlife biologist. “Privately managed timberlands are highly sought after by hunters. Early successional and mixed forests like Weyerhaeuser’s provide good habitat for local game populations, and hunter access is critical for a successful game management program along the Oregon coast.” 

The recent addition to the Access & Habitat Program, along with an initial 92,000 acres included in the program in August 2020, opens more than 180,000 acres of our Oregon Timberlands to the public.

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A map of the more than 180,000 Weyerhaeuser acres now part of the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife’s Access & Habitat Program, including 89,000 acres added in 2021.

 

JUST A FEW SIMPLE RULES

The Access & Habitat program, established by the state legislature in 1993, uses money from hunting licenses to pay private landholders to open their land for public recreational use with the goal of improving public hunting and wildlife access.

“This new acreage fits nicely with the previously available land,” says Michelle Metcalf, former recreation access manager for the Northwest who recently transitioned to a new role as environmental management systems manager for Western Timberlands. “There’s more of a continuous flow from parcel to parcel and fewer scattered locations than the acres included in 2020.”

The public can access Weyerhaeuser property made available through the program using logging roads with open gates and posted notices (see map). A kiosk at each entrance lists 15 simple rules the public must follow while on our property, including no camping, fires or littering. And some areas are designated for walk-in only — popular for bicyclists and horseback riders.

The gates are open to the public except in the most severe fire conditions: Vehicular and motorized access are prohibited if the state issues a level 3 Industrial Fire Precaution, and all public access is prohibited in the event of a level 4 precaution.

 

PUBLIC ACCESS IN OREGON AND BEYOND

“Through permit, lease or free public access programs, most of our Oregon Timberlands are now available to the public,” Michelle says. “Our forests provide important recreational benefits, and we’re proud to make them available for everyone to enjoy.” 

For more about Weyerhaeuser’s land access opportunities in Oregon and throughout the U.S., visit recreation.weyerhaeuser.com.