The Oregon Department of Forestry is asking the state to invest $7.9 million in three projects, which will directly impact forestlands across the state and in Clatsop County.
The Clatsop County Board of Commissioners agreed Wednesday night to send a letter to Gov. John Kitzhaber supporting the Department of Forestry in funding the projects.
“During the economic downturn in 2009, State Forest Division revenue dropped, forcing deep cuts to positions that support recreation and education programs, and services that benefit the public,” The commissioners wrote in the letter. “The purpose of this proposal is to reinstate the recreation and education positions to better meet this broad public interest and support.”
Commissioners Scott Lee, Peter Huhtala, Sarah Nebeker and Dirk Rohne voted unanimously to send the letter. Commissioner Matt Samuelson was absent.
The three proposed forest projects include creating a research and monitoring program, funding recreation, education and interpretation activities and providing alternative funding for the South Fork Forest Camp inmate program.
At the South Fork inmate camp near Tillamook, the proposal would partially fund 22 full-time positions and two seasonal positions.
For the recreation, education and interpretation activities, the proposal would create two full-time natural resource specialist positions and fund four full-time and two seasonal natural resource specialist positions that are currently vacant.
Creating a research and monitoring program would help the state maintain “core business functions,” customer service and prioritize service that directly benefits or protects forest resources in the long term, according to the Department of Forestry.
“I think this is a good way to help create the (state forest) department into physical alignment,” Lee, who is the commissions chairman said. “It’s not inappropriate to ask the Legislature for money because these are items that contribute to the value of the state forests.”
Lee said offering support to the state forest projects ultimately supports the county through timber harvests, clean water, healthy fish habitat and recreation.
“As county commissioners in counties with (Department) of Forestry lands, we benefit from a broad range of values that flow from our forests,” the commissioners wrote. “Attaining the balanced mix of values we expect from our forests is no easy task.”
In other business:
• The Board of Commissioners accepted a 27-acre donation of a Westport boat ramp and park from Georgia-Pacific Consumer Products LP. The county parks department was originally approached by Georgia-Pacific in 2004 about donating the property, which consists of an existing recreational boat launch and private fishing dock. The land acquisition is part of the overall Westport Corridor & Community Plan to improve the park and boating area.
• Luke Thomas was introduced as the new veterans service officer. Thomas, a retired Coast Guard chief petty officer, is replacing Phil and Buffy Simmons.
As the veterans service officer, Thomas will assist any veteran, or the spouse or dependents of veterans living in Clatsop County. The veterans service contract with the county for the fiscal year 2014-15 is budgeted at $62,600.
Offering support to the state forest projects ultimately supports the county through timber harvests, clean water, healthy fish habitat and recreation.
— Scott Lee
chairman, Clatsop County Board of Commissioners