Jay Browning has been recognized as 2018 Operator of the Year in Northwest Oregon for his efforts to enhance the Big Creek watershed in eastern Clatsop County.

ASTORIA — Clatsop County logger Jay Browning of J.M. Browning Logging Inc. of Astoria has been chosen as 2018 Operator of the Year for the Northwest Oregon Area.

The Oregon Board of Forestry said on Jan. 3 it will honor him at its March 6 meeting in Salem.

“The board gives the Operator of the Year Awards to recognize those who, while harvesting timber, protect natural resources at a level that goes above and beyond requirements of the Oregon Forest Practices Act,” the board said in a press release. “That law requires people to harvest responsibly and protect streams and water quality, protect and enhance habitat, and reduce landslide risks. The law also requires landowners to replant forests after harvesting. The awards honor operators who consistently meet or exceed Forest Practices Act regulations.”

Browning was singled out for protecting a fish-bearing stream within Hampton Lumber’s Big Creek Forest. Browning removed aging alder to allow for regeneration by large conifer trees along the streambank, making it a better habitat for fish in coming years. “His work reflected Hampton’s long-term conservation strategy for Walker Creek,” the board said. “The award also recognizes Browning for decades of consistently applying best management practices to safeguard forest resources, even under challenging circumstances.” (Video: https://youtu.be/MSjDT-uesgQ)

“At Hampton, we’re committed to the sustainable management and use of forest resources, and water quality and fish population management is a huge part of that,” said Steve Zika, CEO at Hampton. “Our foresters are passionate about the land they manage and regularly lend their expertise to leave the land better than we found it. We’re thrilled that our partners at J.M. Browning Logging were recognized for keeping working forests and the habitat they provide sustainable and healthy over the long-term.”

Regional Forest Practices committees select the Operators of the Year and Merit Award recipients from among nominees sent in by landowners, ODF staff and others. The Northwest Oregon Regional Forest Practices Committee also gave a Merit Award to Rick Gwin of Gwin and Sons Logging in Vernonia.

The state’s Private Forests Division Chief Lena Tucker said, “These operators have shown how they can harvest needed wood products in Oregon forests while protecting natural resources. We’re pleased to honor the excellent care and diligence they demonstrate, often in challenging circumstances.”

Oregon enacted the Forest Practices Act in 1971 as a national model for forest management laws. The law focuses on ensuring responsible forest operations and protecting natural resources in forestland. The Act has been updated many times based on new scientific information and values to create a balanced approach to natural resource management.

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