In the name of public safety, the Oregon Department of Transportation and the U.S. Forest Service are benefiting the timber industry by approving indiscriminate cutting of trees damaged by fire that are on public land adjacent to highways.
According to Oregon Public Broadcasting, environmental groups have co-signed a letter to Deb Haaland, U.S. secretary of the interior, asking her to stop ODOT's "reckless" and "mismanaged" tree-cutting operations.
The situation echoes the malfeasance and ignorance displayed in 2018, when OPB reported that ODOT hired a contractor to spray a weed killer near Sisters that was toxic to ponderosa pines.
The spraying, on U.S. Forest Service land along Highway 20, eventually killed many old growth ponderosas, which were then needlessly fast-tracked for removal in the name of public safety; an outcome that pleased only the timber companies.
In the current situation, ODOT's mismanagement involves the cutting of many trees that could be saved, according to several professional arborists, including Tom Ford, the lead arborist for the company ODOT hired to plan a post–fire strategy, who was later terminated without explanation.
The excessive post-fire tree cutting taking place is another example of ODOT and the Forest Service playing footsie with the timber industry.
Culpability for mismanagement, and the likeliness of corruption, are obfuscated, but the motivation is the same as those who occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge; a narrow definition of public land that favors vested interests, while ignoring science and the will of the people.