Environmental Analysis of Election
In this alert, Bark will assess how five races: President-elect Barack Obama, Senator-elect Jeff Merkley (claimed victory today!), Congressman-elect Kurt Schrader, Oregon treasurer-elect Ben Westlund, and Oregon Secretary of State-elect Kate Brown, could change the future of Mt. Hood and America's other National Forests.
Will timber continue to be primary goal of the Forest Service? Or will these new leaders begin the long-overdue reconstruction of the Forest Service to an agency that meets the needs of Americans and the land we depend on--protecting our drinking water, providing recreational opportunities, and restoring ecosystems?|
Bark's experience with Mt. Hood National Forest and strong relationships with surrounding communities puts us in a strong position to bring new ideas to these new leaders. Please support a new direction for Mt. Hood by donating today.
President-elect Barack Obama: Will first 300 days set new direction for the Forest Service or simply undo Bush-era policies?
Senator-elect Jeff Merkley: Will Merkley be a follower or leader? Will he re-align National Forest management with American priorities?
(Congressman-elect Kurt Schrader: In the best position to put Oregonians to work restoring Mt. Hood National Forest.
State lands board: Secretary of State-elect Kate Brown and Treasurer Ben Westlund determine fate of the Palomar Pipeline.
President-elect, Barack Obama
First 300 days will determine extent of recovery from Bush-era attacks on forests; cabinet-level appointments will forecast the future direction of national forest management.
Authority: Enforce laws passed by congress, make Executive Orders, appoint cabinet (E.g. Secretary of Agriculture and Interior) and other executive branch positions (E.g. Undersecretary of Ag., who oversees Forest Service), and set tone of governance through executive branch policy.
Election platform on national forests: Supports Roadless Rule, will "repair the damage done to our national parks by inadequate funding," and "emphasize the protection and restoration of our National Forests."
Prediction: Barack Obama's strong statements on National Forests will be tempered by his energy policy and the recession. Bark will be on the forefront of this potential conflict as biomass and geothermal energy production become new drivers for logging Mt. Hood National Forest, adding to the damage done by the traditional timber sale program.
Reason for hope:
The mandate for reversing Bush-era attacks on national forests is clear after a landslide win. Obama will replace former timber industry lobbyist, Mark Rey, with a new Undersecretary of Agriculture. This appointment will set a new tone for the Forest Service.
Geothermal and biomass development in Mt. Hood National Forest is cost-prohibitive and likely to remain small without massive taxpayer subsidies.
The recession provides Obama an opportunity to expand his proposed "Green Job Corps" to include training and job creation for family-wage jobs restoring watersheds through road removal and infrastructure improvements, replacing timber jobs that have a negative effect on our watersheds.
U.S. Senator-elect Jeff Merkley.
National Forests like Mt. Hood are more important than ever for clean water, recreation, and wildlife. Will Oregon's first democratic duo in the U.S. Senate since 1967 bring the Forest Service in-line with 21st century demands?
Authority: Represent the people of the State of Oregon in passing laws in the United States Senate.
Election platform on National Forests: Supports protecting Oregon's old-growth and roadless forests and will focus on "thinning young stands and restoration to improve water quality and habitat for fish and wildlife."
Prediction: Unseating the right-wing "bi-partisan" juggernaut, Gordon Smith, by a narrow margin will make the junior U.S. Senator cautious and likely only to play a supportive roll in existing efforts to protect roadless and old-growth forests.
Reason for hope: Oregonians are focused on the economy and rising unemployment. At the same time America's natural capital, like clean drinking water, is being damaged by a crumbling National Forest infrastructure. Translation: If Merkley wants to put Oregonians to work, he has the perfect opportunity to create family-wage jobs planning and implementing infrastructure improvements in our National Forests, including removing thousands of miles of unnecessary roads.
Mt. Hood National Forest, which provides drinking water to one-third of Oregon residents AND contains 2,000 miles of road deemed "unnecessary" by the Forest Service, is the perfect place to start such a program.
In addition, Merkley is likely to join a growing call for stopping LNG development and expanding protected Wilderness areas in Oregon.
U.S. Congressman-elect Kurt Schrader
The fifth congressional district contains nearly half of Mt. Hood National Forest, including the threatened Clackamas River watershed. Kurt Schrader is perfectly positioned to put Oregonians to work restoring this national gem.
Authority: Represents residents of Oregon's fifth U.S. congressional district in passing laws in the United States House of Representatives.
Election platform on National Forests: "Right now, wildfires are wreaking havoc in our forests and releasing vast amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere." He supports thinning forests and harvesting the resulting biomass to produce energy.
Prediction: Statements on Schrader's website indicate that he believes current federal forest policy is not working. As of yet, it is unclear who he will look to for advice on "fixing" the Forest Service, although Schrader's official platform statements mirror those of timber industry groups like American Forest Resources Council. No clear predictions here.
Reason for hope:
Clackamas County represents the future of National Forests.
Logging private timber lands remains important in Clackamas County, but logging Mt. Hood National Forest does not.
In 2002, Clackamas County produced 81.6 million board feet (mmbf) of timber1, of which approximately 6.9mmbf came from Mt. Hood National Forest2.
In 2007, the timber market soared because of housing, and Clackamas County responded by producing 130mmbf of timber1, while only 6.2mmbf came from Mt. Hood National Forest2.
Industry consolidation and increased mechanical efficiency has led to fewer jobs created by increased harvest levels. In 2002 Clackamas County employed 1,075 timber-related jobs but in 2007, when the harvest increased by 60%, only 36 more timber-related jobs were created3.
Meanwhile, high quality of living in the County has led to population growth, a phenomenon best illustrated by the Clackamas Tourism Development Council's "Mt. Hood Territory" campaign, which highlights the reasons for visiting a county that contains such natural wonders. Schrader is perfectly positioned to make Clackamas County a major beneficiary of a Forest Service reorganization: putting Oregonians to work fixing Mt. Hood National Forest's crumbling transportation infrastructure, securing clean water and healthy fish runs, and creating a world-class recreation destination.
Oregon State Lands Board
The Oregon State Lands Board, comprised of Governor Ted Kulongoski, Secretary of State-elect Kate Brown, and State Treasurer-elect Ben Westlund, has authority over the permitting of the Palomar Pipeline, which would clearcut 40 miles across Mt. Hood National Forest.
Authority: The Oregon State Lands Board oversees the leasing of state land, which includes lands needed for the building of Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) terminals and the Palomar Pipeline.
Election platforms on LNG:
"I'm not convinced the LNG (liquefied natural gas) pipeline meets my goals of moving toward reducing our dependence on foreign fuel and reducing our dependence on fossil fuels," Kate Brown said in an October interview with Capital Press.
Ben Westlund expressed a willingness to remain open to LNG in Oregon to the Oregonian and Oregon Public Broadcasting.
Prediction: Governor Kulongoski, Secretary of State-elect Brown, and State Treasurer-elect Westlund will stop LNG from threatening our state, our safety and our livelihoods.
Reason for hope:
The Oregon Department of Energy's March, 2008 report stated that Oregon does not need foreign-based LNG to meet consumer demands. This provides the Oregon State Lands Board with enough evidence to not issue leases to LNG developers.
Furthermore, NO LNG activists from Astoria to Coos Bay helped elect John Kroeger as Oregon's next Attorney General, who has publicly stated his opposition to LNG, and Jeff Merkley as U.S. Senator-elect, who has also raised concerns about LNG in Oregon.
Put these factors together: lack of need, overwhelming public opposition, and elected officials who listen to their constituents, and the message is simple: Oregonians Agree, NO LNG!
(Now is a good time to contact these elected officials and let them know your priorities concerning the environment. They need to hear from us right out of the gate how much we value clean air, clean water and recreation.) 1 USDA Forest Service Timber Products Output Mapmaker Version 1.0;
2 USDA Forest Service, Mt. Hood National Forest Cut and Sold Report FY02, FY07
3 Oregon Department of Employment: Covered Employment and Payroll Clackamas County
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