I admire Steve Zika’s proactive effort to undermine the state’s habitat conservation plan that appeared on the opinion page of The Astorian (Sept. 3). He seems to have our county’s best interests in mind.

But Zika is clearly getting way ahead of himself in describing the effects the HCP will have, since it doesn’t exist in even a rough draft form, and won't go into effect until 2023.

More troubling than his conjectures are Zika's twisting of facts to serve his purpose, which seems to be scaring the citizens of our county into opposing the HCP.

For example, he writes that the Oregon Department of Forestry manages forests for the "greatest permanent value for surrounding counties." The law actually says that the ODF will manage for the greatest permanent value for the state, an important distinction.

Concerning the ODF's role, Zika also writes that the HCP will change that role from focusing on protecting wildlife habitat to "actively creating new habitat." But the ODF currently does that. Their goal is 30% to 50% older, more complex habitat on state land. So far, only 10% to 15% has been set aside.

Zika's company, Hampton Lumber, has opposed the ODF's habitat goals for years.

Toward the end of Zika's guest column, he seems to become inebriated by his own speculation, to the point that he suggests that lumber used for building sequesters more carbon than standing trees. He further states that "working forests … provide wildlife habitat and clean water," claims that are not supported by science.



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