A bill proposed in the Oregon State Legislature aiming to ban clearcutting in forestland watershed is bad news for Oregonians.
The bill, House Bill 2656, would ban clearcutting, roadbuilding, and the application of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers in forestland watersheds that supply public drinking water systems.
There’s no doubt that protecting the state’s drinking water is a worthy endeavor, but as introduced, the bill would cripple logging operations across the state that already abide by strict regulations. Hampton Lumber, a Portland-based company, told the Capital Press that half of its 89,000 forested acres are in watersheds affected by the bill, and a spokesman for Roseburg Forest Products said the bill intends to “effectively shut down the timber industry.”
As the earth’s air and water temperatures rise, research shows that toxic algae blooms in drinking water systems globally are on the rise, so there is a real risk in our state. Just last year, an algae bloom in Detroit Lake shut down drinking water supplies in Salem for more than a month.
But kneecapping local businesses that pay good wages to tens of thousands of hard-working Oregonians isn’t the solution — especially without a grace period written into the bill.
Even the bill’s chief sponsor, Rep. Andrea Salinas, D-Lake Oswego, said her bill may seem “drastic” and hoped the bill would “start a conversation.”
But starting that conversation with an idea that would target those in already struggling counties like Douglas County isn’t a great way to inspire change or promote progress.
Instead, it further entrenches a pair of groups that have been fighting each other for decades, which is making things much worse for the state. Not better.