Anyone miffed with the Ecola Tract land exchange plan, or is it just us? Cannon Beach City Manager Rich Mays' response ("Plan for Ecola Tract," The Daily Astorian, April 9) to Dane Osis' letter ("Ecola deal not so rosy," The Daily Astorian, March 19) is nothing less than well-crafted deception.
The public should be seriously concerned with what the city of Cannon Beach and the Oregon Department of Forestry are up to. While we agree that watersheds need protection to ensure city water supplies are preserved for perpetual use, what the public stands to lose in the rest of this "deal" is enormous.
Trading public land, and not divulging the real ramifications for doing so, is unacceptable. For Mays to ask us to "wait for the deal to go through," and then get involved in the management plan afterwards, is outrageous. What do Mays, the leaders of the city of Cannon Beach and ODF have to withhold? What does Mays mean when he says, "it is within the context of this goal that the city will develop policies on the appropriate recreational uses in the Forest Reserve." Why can't they just be up front with their public access plans for our property now? How about putting it in writing?
Currently the Ecola Tract allows access for hunting, fishing, hiking, wildlife viewing, etc., as it has since early settlement. In essence, traditional-responsible uses could be lost with the sweep of a pen. Will our long-enjoyed traditions be deemed as, "appropriate recreational uses in the eyes of Cannon Beach for a Forest Reserve," or not? How will Cannon Beach protect this area any better, and with whose, and what resources?
South Clatsop County is already deficient with parcels of state lands. Why should anyone want the state to eliminate the Ecola Tract from public ownership? Why should the state trade away public lands for private timber lands that already have public access opportunities secured through the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's Access and Habitat program?
This "deal" achieves less acreage for the trade (805 for 720 acres to be exact) and the parcels to be acquired are smaller and scattered around North Clatsop County. This results in a net loss of public access overall, should Cannon Beach gain ownership and eliminate certain previous uses.
Property deed restrictions protecting public access/resource interests on all state lands should be legally recorded before any state agency is allowed to make a public land trade. A "feigned" good intention to protect public interests via management planning after titles are exchanged simply does not cut it.
President, Oregon Hunters Association
Clatsop County Chapter