Foresters for the city of Astoria have long maintained that logging in the Bear Creek Watershed is being done to improve the forest rather than for the money. Why, then, is the amount of revenue generated for the city by logging in the watershed always mentioned when that practice is discussed by the City Council or the Public Works Department? In the words of H.L. Menchen, “If they say it’s not about the money, it’s about the money”
In addition to learning how much the timber companies make on the harvest, it would be interesting to know if the net revenue for the city includes: deductions for the percentage of their forester’s salary that is devoted to planning and supervising the harvest; other public works salaries for employees involved in preparation for the harvest; cleanup afterwards and road maintenance; and office time handling the business costs involved, including keeping statistics for the 52-page Bear Creek Watershed Forest Management Plan.
Speaking of that document, in spite of the current city forester’s stressing the importance of forest management in a time of climate change, the management plan doesn’t even mention those words. Nor is climate change mentioned in the Bear Creek Hydrology Management Plan because, even though water quality is touted as the No. 1 priority in the watershed, no such document exists.
The latest scientific data confirms that clearcutting in a watershed is a bad practice. But our forest management plan allows for clear cutting, as well as cutting large older trees. Both practices are counterintuitive in maintaining high water quality, or mitigating (dare I say the words?) climate change.
Shouldn’t the City Council call for a revision in the forest management plan that eliminates these two practices, in favor of occasional thinning rather than a yearly harvest? It’s time for the city to wean itself from the revenue stream generated by logging in the watershed in deference to its primary function of providing us with clean water.