The lead article in The Astorian on Nov. 23 focused on Clatsop County's decision to opt out of a $1 billion class-action lawsuit against the state ("Clatsop County's decision to opt out of timber suit under microscope").

A recent court finding that the state breached its contract for logging "an insufficient amount of timber from state forests" was costing the participating counties revenue. The article correctly stated that Clatsop County was the only eligible county out of 14 to opt out.

There was overwhelming public support in the county to opt out. Scott Lee, the county Board of Commissioners chairman at the time, said it made little sense to join a suit that prioritized logging interests over all other interests, such as environmental and social values like clean water and recreation.

A headline saying "Counties win $1 billion timber suit" was misleading. Since it was a Circuit Court ruling, it will most likely be followed by years of appeals, up to the Oregon Supreme Court level. Meanwhile, the lawyers representing the counties will continue to collect their fees, which the participating counties and other taxing districts are obliged to pay.

I see the decision to opt out as a big win for Clatsop County. It is not obligated to pay lawyer fees for an indeterminate time.

Also, as the largest producer of timber in the state, it took a principled stand, not denying the ongoing value of logging to our economy and society, but also recognizing other important values. In this time of climate disruption, these other values are more important than ever.



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