Here’s hoping that anti-logging activists goaded Seneca Jones into making a shrewd business move.
We don’t know what the Eugene-based timber company bid for a 735-acre parcel in the Elliott State Forest. Neither the company nor the Department of State Lands will say.
We do know the state set a minimum bid of $1.82 million. We also know the timber was appraised at $5.84 million. Not a bad deal if the trees can be cut. It’s a big if. Conservation groups promise to sue to stop logging, while the Cascadia Forest Defenders vow to physically block logging.
Seneca Jones co-owner Kathy Jones says she’s OK with lawsuits. She’s not OK with lawless threats.
Even if her company never cuts a tree on East Hakki Ridge, she will have made her point. Her bid was motivated by pique, not profit.
Seneca owns timberlands, including some in Douglas County, and Jones said the company doesn’t need to buy state timberlands.
But the paucity of bids for the Elliott parcels bothered Jones.
It’s not clear whether any other company even bid on Hakki Ridge, which is in Douglas County. The state received only five bids, including Seneca’s, for three parcels.
Jones said she heard that few timber companies were bidding, so she submitted one at the last moment to spite the activists.
Then she let the world know that she and her sisters, Becky Jones and Jody Jones, were not going to be kowtowing.
“We refuse to be bullied by eco-radical groups like Cascadia Forest Defenders, who have tried to intimidate everyone in our business,” they said in a statement.
The Jones sisters are second-generation owners and have been pushed forward to soften the timber industry’s image. Their statement referred to themselves as “three women and mothers who care deeply ...”
But Kathy Jones’ reaction to threats by activists was as tender as a falling fir tree. She poleaxed the Cascadia Forest Defenders.
She reminded everyone why the state became desperate enough to sell the timberlands — to make up a shortfall in the Common School Fund caused by anti-logging lawsuits and the state attorney general’s anemic response to the litigation.
Jones noted the environmental consequences of overgrown forests — disease, insect attacks and massive fires.
The alternative is a steady stream of income for schools by sustainable harvesting of renewable second-growth timber.
Jones took tree-sitting activists to task for their “cowardly threat” and said her company’s bid was a matter of principle.
“Seneca will go to the mat on this one,” she promised.
It would be good if Seneca went to the bank, too.