Representatives from the Oregon Department of Forestry met with Arch Cape residents Monday following the decision to delay the Norriston Heights timber sale.
The discussion was facilitated by Clatsop County commissioners and staff who hope this will be the first of many talks until a solution is found. The state had planned a modified clearcut of more than 70 acres on the east side of U.S. Highway 101 between Arcadia Beach and Hug Point.
About 20 people would be affected by the timber sale, but more than 50 people attended the meeting in Astoria.
Among those in the audience were concerned residents along the North Coast and representatives from environmental groups and from Hampton Lumber.
Residents reiterated their concerns about the proposed clearcut and shared their disappointment in what they consider the Department of Forestry’s lack of transparency.
Many said they are thankful the department delayed the sale, but would prefer permanent protection of the land instead of a suggested land exchange.
Jewell and Rockaway Beach residents cautioned against a land exchange, sharing claims about the impact of clearcuts on their drinking water.
The Department of Forestry had little to say and spent most of the discussion listening.
The timber sale is important to Hampton Lumber, as they are a purchaser of the timber produced from the Department of Forestry’s timber sale program, said Doug Cooper, the vice president of resources for Hampton Lumber.
But he also said the department should do a better job communicating with residents.
“I really do believe there is a lot more care and protection that the department puts into their timber sales, how they’re laid out, all the concerns that they addressed that I don’t think you were able to hear about today,” Cooper said.
“Going forward, I would hope the staff do take the opportunity to inform people and tell them everything that they do in the timber sale moving forward.”
Nadia Gardner, an Arch Cape resident and environmental advocate, agreed.
“I’m disappointed actually in ODF today,” she said.
“Look at all the people in this room that you could have presented to and shared what your process is and what your process has been for Norriston to show some of the steps you’ve taken to mitigate some of the concerns here. Because I do think every time you’re in the room with the public this is an opportunity as representatives of a public agency to speak to us.”
She asked for more dialogue in the future.
Liz Dent, the state forests division chief, said the department’s focus is on moving forward methodically and thoughtfully to find a solution that has the “greatest permanent value.”
She said the department is looking at ways to improve outreach and engagement. She also assured people that the timber sale was modified to exceed the department’s standards.
“I don’t think anyone kind of wants to be in this spot again a year from now,” Dent said.