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        Oregon | Activity 7.3: Timber Industry

        Students examine photos of Oregon’s trees and logging operations. They learn there are positive things about the timber industry, as well as negative effects of harvesting timber. Students then make a pros and cons list of the timber industry.

        Lesson Summary

        Students examine photos of Oregon’s trees and logging operations. They learn there are positive things about the timber industry, as well as negative effects of harvesting timber. Students then make a pros and cons list of the timber industry.

        This lesson is part of "Oregon | Unit 7: Oregon’s Natural Resources and Economy." In this unit, students will examine Oregon’s natural resources and their significance to the state.

        Time Allotment

        25 minutes

        Learning Objectives

        Standards: 

        4.11: Identify conflicts involving use of land, natural resources, economy, and competition for scarce resources, different political views, boundary disputes, and cultural differences within Oregon and between different geographical areas.

        4.18: Identify key industries of Oregon.

        Supplies

        Directions

        1. Distribute the Timber Industry handout to students. Explain that you’ll be explaining the role timber plays in Oregon’s economy, and ask them to jot down some of the pros and cons of the timber industry as the class discusses it.

        1. Project the photo, USA, Oregon, Bend dividing highway with trees | Human Impact on the Physical Environment | Geography.

        1. Talk with students about how Oregon is known for its lush, green environment. Ask students if they live near places in Oregon like the one pictured, or have visited them.

        1. Note that trees are a big part of the state’s beauty. They are also part of the ecosystem that keeps many other plants and animals alive. Forests cover almost half of the state of Oregon’s landmass. Trees provide shelter, shade, and food to the animals and plants that live around them. These ecosystems don’t only provide for the natural habitats—they also provide wood. Ask students if they knew that trees are also an important part of Oregon’s economy.

        1. Talk with students about how vast the timber industry is in Oregon. Show the Timber Industry photo. Explain that the industry provides thousands of jobs to people living in the state. The mills, or the places where the trees are sawed into timber, rely on logging to provide products to their customers. This means a lot of trees need to be cut down to keep up with the demand. Ask students what products they can think of that are made from timber or wood. [Timber is most commonly used for wooden building materials such as beams, walls, doors, cabinets, etc., as well as paper products. It is also used to make furniture, boats, musical instruments, power line/telephone poles, and artwork carvings/sculptures.]
          Stress the importance of wood in today’s society to students.

        1. Next, project the Northern Oregon Coast Range Logging photo. Explain that sometimes, when trees are cut down and land is cleared, it can be good for developers: houses and buildings can now be built. However, most of the time, when timbers are harvested in mass quantities, it changes the natural ecosystem for the worse. One change that occurs is in the soil content. Normally, trees take a certain amount of water from the environment to grow. Yet when the trees are gone, the water seeps into the soil and changes the moisture content. This can cause the soil to move more easily and erode the surface area so that other plants cannot thrive as they once did. Not only does the higher water content create the conditions for soil erosion, but the removal of the trees’ roots that used to help hold the soil together does, too.

          Explain that water quality is also affected when trees are removed in large quantities. Without trees to shade the rivers, water temperatures rise, causing all sorts of changes in the water content. Small changes in water temperature have proved harmful to aquatic plant and animal life. Normally, trees discard needles, leaves, and branches in a natural process that returns nutrients to the environment at a slower pace than if these end up in the water in mass quantities. This influx of debris in waterways that results from the logging process can stop or slow the water flow to areas dependent upon the flowing water.

        1. Return to the first photo, USA, Oregon, Bend dividing highway with trees | Human Impact on the Physical Environment | Geography. Reiterate that while these trees provide us with many useful products, there is a ripple effect that occurs when we take too many of them at one time. A balance must be struck between our need to use wood from timbers and the impact it has on the environment.

        1. Allow five minutes for students to finish filling in their pro and cons lists on their handouts. Have students either break into small groups to compare and discuss their lists, or turn the worksheet in for grading.

        Answer Key:

        • Benefits of the timber industry:

          • Key industry for Oregon’s economy

          • Jobs across many industries

          • The actual wood and paper products that people use every day

          • Clearing land for development

        • Harmful effects of the timber industry:

          • Negative effects on the environment

          • Other plants, animals, and fish rely on the trees for everything from food to shelter to temperature control

          • Soil erosion

          • Water quality

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