The city of Cannon Beach has worked for more than two years to acquire 800 acres of pristine forestland owned by the Oregon Department of Forestry just east of the city, adjacent to the city's watershed.
The primary purpose of this acquisition would be to protect a significant portion of the wetlands along Ecola Creek, habitat for endangered species such as the coho salmon and the marbled murrelet.
We need to pass a bond measure of up to $4 million to purchase replacement forestlands in accordance with state requirements. Hopefully, this will be placed on the May ballot if the council agrees to go forward at the Feb. 24 special meeting.
In response to opposition by Bill Bennett, as reported in the Friday edition of The Daily Astorian ("Cannon Beach leaders eye public vote on land deal"), I would like to offer the following points:
1) The water quality we are referring to is the protection of Ecola Creek, a pristine and ecologically important stream. It was not the intention of the city to imply that this expansion of the Forest Reserve would be for drinking water protection, although it would be part of the larger Forest Reserve which does surround the city's water source.
2) Although the property is owned by the Oregon Department of Forestry, we saw what happened to lands owned by the Oregon State Parks at Arcadia Beach when it needed to quickly make a deal. ODF ownership does not always guarantee protection of mature forests.
3) The city has successfully managed 220 acres of existing Forest Reserve for many years without foresters, managers or other staff. Since the 800 acres would remain as essentially natural forest in the future, relatively little management would be needed.
4) Now is the best time to go forward with the purchase because the price of forestlands is depressed at this time, and may not be when the economy rebounds. The cost of the reserve purchase would be $6 to $12 per month for an average house in Cannon Beach, and potentially much less if the $2 million in grants the city has applied for are approved.
I urge Cannon Beach residents to come to the special meeting Feb. 24 to discuss this issue and become informed.
Mayor of Cannon Beach