For many of us, the upcoming vote on whether Clatsop County joins the class of the Linn County lawsuit will be a defining moment for the current board of commissioners and the county manager. The vote will be particularly telling of board members who have claimed to be environmentally friendly in the past. If they vote to join the class, it will be pure hypocrisy to make such a claim in the future.
By proclaiming timber harvest as the pre-eminent value in forest management, this lawsuit is obviously in opposition to a balanced approach that honors all values equitably. The lawsuit was initiated and paid for in its first phase by timber companies. They did so not to serve the needs of the counties, but to serve their own bottom line, the same motivation that keeps them blocking improved aerial herbicide spraying regulations, even though Oregon’s are woefully inadequate compared with surrounding states.
Contrary to spurious claims that the lawsuit has only to do with money owed the counties by the state for insufficient timber harvest in the past, it is easy to see that if the state loses or settles the lawsuit it would have to increase timber harvest doing forward to avoid future lawsuits. Legal battles launched by environmental groups won’t be able to stem the tide of statewide increased timber harvest.
Increased timber harvest means more clearcuts, destruction of wildlife habitat, harm to water and people exposed to aerial herbicide spraying, blatant disregard for climate change and further degradation of forest soil. If the commission votes to opt into the lawsuit, or remains silent on the issue, which is tantamount to opting in, they will be supporting the continuing destruction of Oregon’s natural environment in favor of industrial tree farms.
The people of Clatsop County should demand an open public vote on this issue. Transparency on county legal matters is required by law. Opting out will be met with broad support for the commission by the majority of the county who proclaimed in Clatsop Vision 2030 Together their preference for balance, and not increased cutting.