The Linn County commissioners’ lawsuit against the state for its management of forest policies shares common ground with the militants in Harney County. The militants want grazing restrictions lifted on land maintained by the government as a wildlife sanctuary for over a century.
The commissioners want the state to forsake its duty, established in 1998, to manage forests for ecological, recreational and aesthetic values as well as logging. Like the militants, the commissioners would degrade the long-term quality of our public lands for the sake of immediate economic gain. Their massive law suit is economic terrorism that could cost the tax payers a billion dollars.
It’s no coincidence that this legal threat coincides with the timber industry’s proposal to open 70 percent of Clatsop and Tillamook counties’ managed forests to clear cutting, reducing conservation to a mere 30 percent. Like the timber industry, the commissioners say “to hell with the general public,” whose interests are being protected by the government.
The 15 counties that receive revenues from logging have had 18 years to get used to the idea that massive clear cutting on public lands is a thing of the past. During that time span they have failed to create alternative sources of revenue for their constituencies. The Linn County lawsuit is an example of failed leadership at the state and local levels, and a lack of character on the part of commissioners, who would rather litigate and connive than do the hard work of creating a sustainable vision for the future.
Last year the Clatsop County commissioners created a 30-year vision plan that was forged with abundant public input. In the second line of the “Overarching Vision” it clearly states that we as a county “protect and enhance our scenic beauty and natural resources as the foundation of our prosperity and outstanding quality of life.” The operable words here are “protect” “enhance” and “scenic beauty.”
I have faith that Chairman Scott Lee and the other commissioners will live up to the county’s vision plan by repudiating the Linn County law suit. In that same spirit, I trust that our commission will repudiate the 70/30 proposal by the timber companies and work for a county-wide moratorium on clear cutting, which is exacerbating global warming, desecrating the visual environment and poisoning the air and water.