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Letter: Forest values

Published on May 13, 2016 12:01AM

It was sad to read that Skyler Archibald, director of the Parks and Recreation District of Seaside, is supporting the Linn County lawsuit which would mean increased logging here in Clatsop County (“Protect programs,” The Daily Astorian, April 15). As a municipal employee in a town almost totally reliant on tourism, why would the director want more trees cut down — especially in light of the butchered hills on Seaside’s eastern horizon?

But let’s forget about aesthetics. It’s about the money. Archibald repeats the mantra of the Linn County commissioners, “the greatest permanent value.” The lawsuit is based on a 1939 contract between the state and counties to provide the “greatest permanent value,” which the litigants assume to be money from timber harvest on state forest lands.

Apparently they didn’t get the memo in 1998, when the Oregon Department of Forestry was mandated to balance forest usage for recreational, ecological, aesthetic and timber harvest values. Even in 1939, the “greatest permanent value” was never defined to be strictly a monetary take from timber harvest.

The basis of the more egalitarian 1998 approach to managing forests lies in the irrefutable truth that change is inevitable. When the 1939 contract was signed, nobody had ever heard the term “global warming.” Now there is good reason to leave trees standing and promote carbon sequestration as a means of gleaning funds from the forests.

In 1939, Oregon was barely in the national consciousness. Now people are flocking to Oregon for the livability and the environment. In 1939, there wasn’t a multi-million dollar tourist industry grounded on the beauty of the state and the recreational opportunities here.

While fish and wildlife were in decline in the 1930s, we hadn’t yet seen species pushed to extinction. In 1939, there was no Environmental Protection Act, which just made Oregon the first state ever to lose federal grant money for failure to clean up coastal streams polluted by logging.

Archibald states that it is “obvious” that we can have all of the mandated benefits from the state forests and “harvest public timber at increased and sustainable rates.” He rightly calls for “sensible conservation measures that preserve our forests.”

These two seemingly contradictory statements are at the heart of the debate about how forest will be managed in Oregon, and throughout the west. It is important that individuals and agencies with a monetary stake in the outcome acknowledge that the meaning of “value” is much broader than money alone.

Roger Dorband



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