More than 30 people attended a timber auction on Tuesday, August 21 in Astoria, Oregon to ask questions, voice their concerns and protest the selling of 1,024 acres of the Tilamook State Forest. The Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) opened four sealed bids for the rights to clear-cut, "thin" and build roads on coastal taxpayer land. Although the sale will be finalized in Salem, the final net price for the trees known as the Quartz Creek timber sale is $5,034,043.84, and the winner of the auction appears to be the Hampton Lumber Company.
One glaring issue that arose from the discourse was that the ODF currently has no formalized public comment period for state timber sales. Top Astoria District Forester, Stan Medema, admitted from the beginning that only specific, technical questions regarding this particular contract would be forwarded to Salem, and all other public comments would be politely discarded.
Donald Fontenot of the Cascadia Forest Alliance did raise three specific Quartz Creek contract issues.
"I have ground-truthed the area," said Fontenot, "and I found your buffers are on the wrong side of a sensitive creek. I am concerned about that. I am also concerned that you are going to begin clear-cutting 52 acres to build nine miles of new roads before a spotted owl survey is complete. Also of concern is the fact you have not surveyed for coho salmon since 1996 and the sale borders on a known salmon-bearing river," Fontenot said.
Fontenot asked in what manner he or any other citizen could expect a response from the ODF, and Medema seemed perplexed, but assured Fontenot he would personally respond.
Fontenot asked Medema if a pre-operations report could be published so citizens may have a window of opportunity to submit comments about timber sales to the ODF. Medema answered, as he did throughout the entire hour-long event, with a public relations non-response. The current ODF procedure is to publish an annual "Operations Plan" that lists and describes state lands the ODF wishes to cut and sell. The parcels of land then receive an auction date, which is also published, and the land is sold and cut. There is no formal time period where the process is suspended while the state's foresters receive public opinion. There are focus groups formed to look at proposed sales, but the ODF chooses the members.
Several local people were in attendance who are directly affected by the massive logging that will ensue. One woman said the sediment caused by logging comes into her drinking water and said that partial cuts, in her experience, are not partial at all. She said the clear cutting involved in partial cuts have caused flash floods on her land. She pleaded with Medema to save the hardwoods and salmon and suggested the ODF is a racketeer.
Another local citizen said he believed the ODF was about 40-50 years out of sync with public opinion. "Like these people here," he said. "They see the forests, not just the trees. You say you are stewards," he challenged Medema. "It is in your logo. You are no stewards of the land at all, you function as a private timber company in my opinion."
Fontenot reminded the group this is one sale out of many in our state. "This sale is 17 million board feet, but about 30 million board feet is being cut per month. I hope everyone stays concerned and everyone comments."
Write a letter, make a call
The ODF says they are just following the recently adopted Forest Management Plan, and crucial to how they will carry it out is detailed in the "Ten Year Implementation Plan," and the public still has time to comment on it!
For example, the Plan intends to clear-cut up to 4, 450 acres and cut and build 40-60 miles of new roads within the Tilamook district alone by the year 2010.
Contact the ODF to get your copy of the Implementation Plan and comment: 800-482-6866
ODF contact Jane Hope: 503-945-7359 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Plug up Stan Medema's voice mail and tell him you don't like the Oregon Forest Plan and you don't want 1,000 acres of your land destroyed: 503-325-5451