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Editorial: Difficult spot

Whatever the outcome of the Linn County lawsuit on state forests revenue Clatsop County is the mother lode – of timber and carbon sequestration.

Published on January 26, 2016 10:04AM

Linn County’s timber lawsuit has more than one outcome

Linn County Commissioner Roger Nyquist has put the Clatsop County Board of Commissioners into a difficult spot. While Linn County’s lawsuit against the state of Oregon promises a big payday for the state’s timber counties, it is unclear whether that ultimately would be a good or bad thing for this county or for all of Oregon.

Clatsop County is the big kahuna of Oregon’s state forests. Only Tillamook County has more state forest acreage, but Clatsop’s forests produce the most revenue. The Clatsop State Forest is a major component of the county’s budget, and it feeds school districts and smaller special districts.

Our county resides in the heart of the North American Temperate Rainforest. The combination of soils and climate make it God’s tree farm. As such, our timberland — public and private — will be a significant element in a carbon strategy.

In an interview last week, Clatsop County Commission Chairman Scott Lee suggested our county might do just as well with its forest lands managed by what’s called a TIMO (timber investment management organization). TIMOs have the freedom to manage a forest for as long a harvest cycle as one wants.

In the immediate future, however, our county commission must reckon with Linn County’s lawsuit. Speaking to the Albany Democrat-Herald, Chairman Lee said: “This is a tough one. My concern is that any lawsuits that could tie up my (county’s) revenue stream from the state forest are problematic. This could bring lawsuits from environmental groups, too.”

Like so many things these days, a purported jackpot could become a problem for this county. The commission must game out the possible outcomes.


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