In an April 9 editorial, the Oregonian strongly criticizes two recent bills that would gut protections for Oregon’s state forestlands. These misguided proposals come at a critical time for our state forests, and the editorial shined a light on a long-standing dispute about these unique natural resources, which are supposed to be managed for the benefit of all Oregonians.
The dispute boils down to this – current law prohibits the state from turning our public forests into industrial clearcuts. The Oregon Department of Forestry must manage our state forests to obtain the “Greatest Permanent Value,” which includes a full range of social, economic and environmental benefits – the triple bottom line. The State is required to balance multiple uses to ensure protections for wildlife habitat, water quality, and recreation. Even with these protections on the books, logging on or state forests is still unsustainable, which is why Crag has worked for years to enforce federal laws like the Clean Water Act on our state forest lands.
As the Oregonian noted, the people of Oregon expect our state government to protect and steward these irreplaceable natural resources for future generations. The timber industry and a few county governments, however, remain entrenched in their outdated views, wanting to clearcut most of it now for short-term economic gain. The only problem, of course, is that our laws stand in their way. The Greatest Permanent Value rule simply does not allow the state to turn our public forests into industrial tree farms dominated by clearcuts.
Maybe in the old days, the timber industry could just go down to Salem and rewrite the laws. But times have changed. The public won’t support such a blatant give away of our natural legacy. Our kids – and their kids – deserve better.
The public gets it. The Oregonian gets it. Why can’t the timber industry and its politicians finally catch up with the times? The future of the industry lies in collaboration, restoration and a more complete picture of long-term economic value. These outdated bills are a last gasp attempt to return to the unsustainable practices of the past.