Get off the fence on Measure 34
Measure 34 will create a roadmap for a plan that incorporates credible scientific information to protect half of the 518,000 acres of public forestland in the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forest. Measure 34 seeks to balance sustainable logging with permanent protection for fish and wildlife populations, to protect clean water that one in ten Oregonians drink, and enhance all recreational opportunities on state forest land on Oregon's North Coast.
Fish mongers and rumor mongers and Measure 34
My name is David Moskowitz. I am the Treasurer of Oregonians for a Balanced Tillamook Political Action Committee. I have been working on state forest issues on Oregon's North Coast for 14 years. The posts on this site have been interesting, but many of the major arguments being made by opponents are based on incorrect assumptions. I try to address some of these below.
What is Measure 34?
Measure 34 will create a roadmap for a plan that incorporates credible scientific information to protect half of the 518,000 acres of public forestland in the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forest. Measure 34 seeks to balance sustainable logging with permanent protection for fish and wildlife populations, to protect clean water that one in ten Oregonians drink, and enhance all recreational opportunities on state forest land on Oregon's North Coast. This process will include extensive public participation.
Is 50 percent enough?
When you add up the areas important for wild salmon, wildlife and clean water, they could require as much as sixty-five percent of the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests. We are seeking a better balance between permanent reserves and sustainable timber harvesting.
Why do we need this Measure?
This plan represents the ongoing work by conservation, business and recreation organizations over nearly a decade. It came to a ballot measure because the Oregon Department of Forestry ignored the recommendations of 2 independent scientific panels as well as over 3,000 public comments when it adopted its management plan in January 2001. One commenter said since the plan pleased no one it must be good. Interesting logic. Measure 34 is also necessary because the Oregon Board of Forestry is comprised of citizen members who have more direct economic conflicts than is allowed by Oregon law. The composition of the board has contributed to the effort to take these issues directly to the voters. The Oregonian said Measure 34 is ballot box forestry that Oregon does not need. Remember that Oregon voted to pay for the replanting the Tillamook in a 1948 ballot initiative. Why is a ballot initiative any less appropriate to again protect the Tillamook in 2004? One further thought, Measure 34 does not entirely scrap the existing experimental plan - it proposes to implement that plan, but just not on every acre, and not on the most sensitive ecologically productive places on the North Coast.
Food for thought: The Revenue Distribution Issue:
The historic agreement between the counties and the state deserves some mention. First, private timber companies defaulted on their tax bills and the counties foreclosed. After decades of county-supported salvage and green tree logging of the so-called "Tillamook Burn" the counties held up their palms and said "we need help managing this wasteland we helped create" once all the trees were gone. Oregon stepped in to replant and restore this region. Tillamook and Clatsop Counties were two of the three Oregon counties where the 1948 replanting bond measure did not pass. Measure 34 does not end nor restructure the existing relationship between the state and the counties. The existing agreement does not create a fixed income stream, only a continued one.
Fear and Loathing by lawyers and litigators:
Some commenters fear that litigation will tie everything up. The City Club of Portland used a broadly construed and weakly crafted legal opinion by Greg Corbin of Stoel Rives to foment this fear of lawsuits. Please recall that Stoel Rives represents many timber companies. Can you say "unfounded?" Please read the Oregon AG's legal memo to Forestry for a more reasonable interpretation of the threats of a legal traffic jam. Speaking of litigation, when Measure 34 passes, the first lawyers to the courthouse will be from the Standard Insurance Building.
Bridging the rural - urban divide:
Some people on the coast live as far away from the state forest as do people in Washington County do. Furthermore, last we looked, these lands are public lands whose purpose is to provide the greatest permanent value for Oregon - all of Oregon. Cutting down trees may not be the path to create the greatest permanent value. Measure 34 will provide Oregon voters an opportunity preserve their options that were originally created by going to the ballot box in 1948.
Is Fire a concern?
If you have seen the television ads paid for by out-of-state timber companies, you could imagine that imminent, catastrophic forest fires will destroy the Tillamook unless we let them cut it down. Fire is natural part of the coast range, but occurs only once every 300 to 400 years. Measure 34 would require restoration forestry to help restore healthy forests and watersheds damaged by the last round of salvage logging. Fire is an issue for any forest but fiery television ads are just another example of poor corporate timber practices. Too bad the timber industry burned up so many of its shareholder's dollars buying those misleading and fear-mongering ads.
What about schools?
Out-of-state and non-union timber companies also claim that Measure 34 will hurt schools. In fact, Measure 34 preserves funding for local public school districts who receive revenue from harvests. Measure 34 also guarantees five percent of timber receipts to the Common School Fund, new money that is not there now. This funding comes from re-allocating revenue that funded fancy new buildings for the Department of Forestry in Salem and Tillamook. If anything will hurt schools, it will be the boom and bust logging cycles promoted by out-of-state timber companies as well as the failure of local and state officials to see the forest but for the trees.
Jobs and the economy: The incredible shrinking job market in an industry making big bucks
Timber companies (did I mention that many of them are out of state corporations?) continue to blame regulations for the job shrinkage in the wood products industry. The real culprit is automation - both in the woods and in the mill. By logging the bigger trees at an unsustainable rate, two things happened. First, watersheds lost their capacity to produce wild salmon, wildlife, and clean drinking water. All seven major rivers flowing from the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forest do not meet water quality standards. In fact, on Friday, the federal Environmental Protection Agency and Oregon's own Department of Environmental Quality told the Board of Forestry that their rules on small streams do not protect water quality for fish.
The second result of unsustainable logging on northwest forests is that Wall Street and their accountants took over for the foresters. They learned that trees grow fastest in their early years and they learned that you could make more money if you harvest them more often. Now that the big trees are gone, one guy can drive to a forest, get into a machine that grabs, cuts and loads small logs directly onto a logging truck, and then get into the logging truck and drive it to a mill that operates 24 hours a day with half the workers needed to run it than were needed just a decade ago.
Top forest economists estimate that harvesting 1 million board foot (mbf) of lumber creates 12.7 direct jobs in the wood, paper and pulp industry. Let's see if this estimation survives scrutiny. In 1995, 80 mbf were harvested from the Tillamook. Harvest doubled by 2000 to 160 mbf. This 80 mbf increase over 5 years should have created 1,016 jobs statewide. The Oregon Employment Department found during that 5-year period, 12 jobs were created in Tillamook County and 4 in Clatsop County. There is no way that the harvest of 80 mbf over 5 years created 1,016 jobs statewide. Our opposition uses the slogan "It doesn't add up." Perhaps they are talking about their own claims that over 2,000 jobs will be lost. Timber workers have more to fear about their employment future from mechanization and corporate cost-cutters than from Measure 34.
The Board of Forestry as muse:
This healing forest is managed by the Oregon Board of Forestry. Their 2001 management plan based on "structure based management" is innovative but untested. As I mentioned earlier, the Board of Forestry ignored the critical opinion of two different independent scientific panels as well as over 3,000 citizens who wanted a better balance between permanent reserves and sustainable logging.
The Board's blindness to other opinions should not be surprising. Even though Governor Kulongoski has staked the future of protecting state lands on this Board, it is unlikely that it can rise to the occasion because nearly every member has a direct or indirect economic conflict of interest in the industry that it regulates. State law allows no more than 3 members of the Board to have an economic conflict. Five of the current seven members have a direct conflict, and there exists the possibility that the remaining two members also have impermissible conflicts. In that atmosphere, it is no wonder that the State Forester has been accused of cutting backroom deals with the industry. Measure 34 does not directly address the current conflicts, nor update this antiquated conflicts law that compares with the Hardrock Mining Law of 1872, or western water law in its deference to the consumptive user. However, the status of the Board appointments and the Governor's refusal to correct the problem in early 2004 gives the public every reason to invoke the ballot measure to restore the public interest in these public lands.
Given a track record that includes ignoring both the weight of scientific evidence and overwhelming public opinion during the planning process, extensive conflicts of interest and backroom deals, Oregonians have every right to go to the ballot box to protect the forest that they planted.
Vote Yes on Measure 34.
add a comment on this article
add a comment on this article