The institute will evaluate conflicting research on forests
The Associated Press
August 6, 2004
GRANTS PASS —Former Gov. John Kitzhaber is creating a natural resources policy institute with the goal of finding peace in the timber wars still raging 10 years after the Northwest Forest Plan was supposed to put them to rest.
Kitzhaber was to announce the creation of his independent Kitzhaber Center in a speech this morning on the legacy of the Northwest Forest Plan before the Ecological Society of America meeting in Portland. The center is to be established at the Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland.
Central to finding a way past continuing acrimony over logging in the Northwest will be developing a means of evaluating conflicting research in forest management, Kitzhaber said.
"I'm trying to focus on developing a new set of governance management tools for natural resources in the West," Kitzhaber said Thursday in an interview. "I am convinced the conflict paradigm we are engaged in doesn't deliver for any of the stakeholders.
"The Biscuit (fire recover plan) is a classic example. The model has resulted in little salvage (logging), which is not good really for the (timber) industry or the environmental side."
Tom Partin, president of the American Forest Resource Council, a timber industry group, said he worked with Kitzhaber in the 1990s to try to increase timber production while improving the health of Eastern Oregon forests hurt by poor management.
"What he's saying talks to my pain in terms of my background at Ochoco Lumber Co., which had to shut down two saw mills," Partin said. "We talk about management, but nothing is hitting the ground."
Andy Stahl, director of Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics, said he didn't like Kitzhaber's idea.
"There is no way to be politically objective" about science, Stahl said. "Good science depends on people arguing about how to interpret the data and people doing experiments to test their hypotheses.
"The Soviet Union had state-appointed science czars who declared evolution to be incorrect and persecuted any scientists who put forward evolutionary ideas."
The Northwest Forest Plan was instituted in 1994 to balance habitat for the northern spotted owl and salmon against logging.
It has never lived up to its timber production goals, and conservationists continue to try to save old-growth forests designated for logging.
The Bush administration has tried to increase timber production.
He has eased some of the regulations of the Northwest Forest Plan, and enacted a law making it easier to do logging designed to lower wildfire danger, and proposed opening to logging roadless areas put off-limits by President Clinton.