CORVALLIS — Older mid-Willamette Valley landowners selling timber from their forest lands to pay for health care could get an alternative soon.
An Oregon conservation group has proposed a health initiative linking landowners with carbon offset buyers, getting money to the older owners for health care costs while more effectively managing their timber.
The initiative can work for woodlots as small as 20 acres.
Catherine Mater of the Pinchot Institute for Conservation says the initiative will conserve forests, reduce the threat of climate change and provide rural landowners with access to health care.
“Fir trees are excellent oxygen producers,” Mater said. “Trees are carbon-eating machines.”
The Forest Health Human Health program would allow family tree farmers to sell carbon credits based on the amount of carbon estimated to be digested by their trees each year.
Under the plan, timber harvesting could continue in the form of tree thinning or underbrush removal.
The program is already in place in Columbia County.
A national 2005 study was the first time medical expenses were identified as potential key factors in the decision to sell family woodlands.