The Douglas County Park Advisory Board voted narrowly Friday to reject a 20-acre clear cut at Mildred Kanipe Memorial Park northeast of Oakland.
Board Chairman Lonnie Ferber cast a tie-breaking vote in a 4-3 decision to reject the timber cut after hearing impassioned pleas against it from park supporters.
Mildred Kanipe willed her 1,100 acres to the people of Douglas County for a park when she died in 1983. The land was initially held in a trust, which dissolved a year ago. The Douglas County Mildred Kanipe Planning Committee was appointed in April to suggest ways to make the park self-supporting.
Committee member Jill Talburt told the board that a 20-acre cut could fund construction of an equestrian-friendly campground. The idea was unpopular with most of the crowd of 40 which packed a small meeting room in the Douglas County Courthouse in Roseburg.
While most agreed a campground could generate the ongoing revenue needed for the park to support itself, most disliked cutting timber to pay for the campground’s construction.
Diana Wales, a planning committee member who voted against the clear cut, said the funds to build the campground should come from the county and from private donations instead.
“I’m hoping for a two-to-one situation from the county which would be for every dollar that comes in from private donations the county would find a way to provide two dollars,” she said.
Park supporters said they have already received $14,100 in pledges, and an offer of a free campground design.
Many in the crowd spoke about the beauty of the park and said it would be damaged by clear cutting. Some expressed concern that one clear cut would pave the way for more.
“This is a park. We own this park. We help pay for the folks who maintain this park. A clear cut doesn’t belong in a park. Many of us feel that way,” said Debra Gray, a member of the Friends of Mildred Kanipe Memorial Park, the group which announced the fundraising drive in last Sunday’s The News-Review.
“There’s no such thing as a one time cut. A cut becomes a plantation and that plantation has got to be dealt with,” argued M.A. Hansen, a member of the planning committee.
A dissenting opinion came from David Monett, owner of Monett Logging Inc., who lives near the park. He said logging is a part of the county’s history and Mildred Kanipe logged her land when she lived there.
Celia Scott, a member of Friends of Mildred Kanipe Park, argued that tourism rather than logging should be considered the best source of revenue from the park.
“There are lots of tourists that could be coming to Kanipe if we just develop the jewels that are out there,” Scott said.
The debate was at times contentious. Talburt argued a super-majority — 80 percent — of her committee had agreed to the clear cut. Some in the audience jeered when she said she was the chairwoman though no one had been elected.
Planning committee member Leslye Wing said she felt pressured to vote yes and tried to retract her vote without success.
“I voted for the clear cutting because I thought if my choice was between closing the park down and not having a park or clear cutting a section I would go ahead and vote for a clear cut,” she said.
Wing said she thought the community should be allowed to try fundraising first, before a clear cut was voted on by the parks board.
Several committee members said they wanted to present both ideas — logging and private donations — to the parks board.
Parks board Chairman Lonnie Ferber initially tried to limit public comment to 10 minutes, but the full committee bowed to public pressure and voted to allow more testimony.
When all the comments were in, the board tied on a motion to accept the clear cut proposal.
Board member Bill Swift argued logging should not be a problem.
“This is not our first timber harvest in a Douglas County park. There have been six of them, friends, all of which may have passed your consciousness,” Swift said.
In casting the tie-breaking vote against the logging plan, Ferber said public testimony had convinced him to vote “nay.”
“This is a real dilemma. I personally am for the timber harvest,” Ferber said.
“Coming in I was pretty well convinced that I was going to support the recommendation. Because of all of you and what you’ve done and all the concerns you’ve given I think I’m going to go on the ‘nay’ side.”
• You can reach reporter Carisa Cegavske at 541-957-4213 or email@example.com.