NW Forest Plan serves us well
Given statements made in Douglas County Commissioner Susan Morgan’s recent column, I must take issue with her claim that our county team is tremendously knowledgeable.
When Morgan pronounces the Northwest Forest Plan a failure, she’s wrong. There are sound biological, economic and environmental reasons why public forests are no longer subject to the widespread clear cut harvest and subsequent unnatural monoculture reforestation so much in evidence on private, industrial timberlands today. At the time of the plan’s implementation, the once vast native forests of Oregon were fast disappearing. One consequence of this over harvest was that many fish runs were gone or imperiled and various species were reduced to threatened or endangered status.
Contrary to what the commissioner asserted, the Northwest Forest Plan has realized significant successes. Many millions of board feet have been and continue to be harvested on public lands via needed and overdue commercial thinning. Under the protections of the plan’s Aquatic Conservation Strategy, with its robust riparian buffers, some of our once borderline anadromous fish populations have managed to hold on and, to some extent, rebound. The same claim cannot be readily made for buffers as they are implemented (or not) on private timberlands governed by the Oregon Forest Practices Act, whereby many perennial, non-fish bearing streams receive no buffer, none!
As for county funding, as Morgan, the other commissioners, and our state and national elected representatives should well know, private timber holdings of more than 5000 acres no longer pay the severance tax they did in past decades. The result has been a tremendous falling off in revenues to state and local governments. Gifted such a sweetheart tax deal, you can be sure Oregon’s timber barons are laughing all the way to the bank.
Joseph Patrick Quinn