The Oregon Department of Forestry is pausing a controversial timber sale near Arch Cape.
The announcement came ahead of a public meeting on Monday between representatives of the Department of Forestry, Clatsop County and property owners who fear their water could be impacted by a timber harvest at Norriston Heights between Arcadia Beach and Hug Point.
The harvest would involve a modified clearcut of more than 70 acres on the east side of U.S. Highway 101.
“A good way to look at it is we’re taking a step back and pressing pause,” said Jason Cox, a spokesman for the Department of Forestry.
The timber sale will be deferred for a minimum of one year, but there is no specific timeline while the state continues to gather public input and investigate the concerns, Cox said.
“We want to consider all potential options for a win-win,” Cox said. The state must balance the economic, environmental and social benefits of timber sales, he added. “That’s a balance we’re trying to strike,” he said.
One possible outcome could be a land exchange, Cox said, though it is too early to say if this is possible at Norriston Heights.
County commissioners agreed to send a letter to the Department of Forestry asking the state to delay the sale following concerns raised during the public comment period at a July meeting. Commissioner Mark Kujala was the only commissioner opposed to sending a letter.
In the letter, the county asked for a meeting to discuss possible alternatives to the sale to address concerns about notification, impacts to drinking water, landslides, habitat and view considerations.
“I know Oregon Department of Forestry listens to public input at every opportunity,” Commissioner Lianne Thompson said in an email. “I’m happy ODF is looking into doing a land exchange. We’ll keep working with all stakeholders.”
The county will convene a public meeting on the issue on Monday.
“I’m relieved they are going to take some time to look at this,” said Suzie Henry, an Arch Cape resident.
She said she was hoping the sale would be delayed and was “pleasantly surprised” by the news.
“I am so thankful to all the coastal people and elected officials who have spoken up on behalf of wildlife and clean drinking water that is reliant on the Norriston Heights forest in the last six months,” Nadia Gardner, an Arch Cape resident and environmental advocate, said in an email.
“We are hopeful that the Oregon Department of Forestry will work diligently with partners to permanently protect it from clearcutting.”