I’m one of the Sierra Club summer interns, and I would like to update you, the fabulous readers of this blog, about an awesome event that happened yesterday in Salem.
Well, yesterday was an epic day down at Administrative building in Salem. The Oregon Board of Forestry was meeting to determine fate of the Tillamook State Forest.
This was a MAJOR decision, and Hunter/Angler point person Jeff Hickman organized a whole rally down there. So next time you see him, give him a round of applause because he did an AWESOME job.
Over 30 anglers and 12 boats were present, as well as many other volunteers and supporters. We parked the boats on the lawn and draped them with banners that made it clear that we did NOT support the plan under discussion.
There were also two wild salmon and one Sasquatch present, to represent their habitat.
After setting the stage and getting everybody in matching T-shirts, we went in and took up most of the seats in the conference room.
There then followed a long meeting during which I understood about half of what was going on but here’s the gist:
1. The Department of Forestry people presented a lot of “scientific” information about how the proposed plan (increasing clear cutting by 20%, salmon anchors and buffer zones gone, BAD stuff, etc) was not detrimental to the health of the forest and how it was actually economically beneficial.
2. This is NOT true. And as a student of science it goes against all of my principles to see such blatantly biased information presented and accepted.
3. Many people spoke to the board saying they did not agree with the plan and were highly opposed.
4. Multiple conservation organizations were represented, as well as concerned citizens, anglers, and residents of Tillamook.
5. Not a SINGLE logger stood up to support this plan.
6. The board then talked about what to do, with State Forester Marvin Brown recommending that they adopt the proposed plan. I would like to comment that this plan was not approved by any independent scientific peer review, nor is it good for anyone in the long term, nor is it actually thought out and it ignores everyone except the county commissioners.
7. Things were looking up when two of the board members brought up excellent points about the plan, such as carbon storage, permanent value of the forest, fish habitat, citizen concern and involvement, the very way the Board makes decisions, and limits on the plan.
8. The board then voted to approve the plan.
9. There were five board members present, three of whom are directly employed by the timber industry. One of the board members who was going to vote our way at the last minute voted to approve the plan. The other member who would have voted in our benefit was on vacation. If he had been there the vote would have tied.
We were all then shell-shocked and angry.
So we went outside and had a barbeque, and dismantled everything.
Here’s what the plan means:
1. 20% more of the Tillamook and Clatsop state forests are now on the table to be clear-cut. This amounts to 103,600 acres.
2. The salmon anchors that are currently in place may change or expire, but no firm decision was made.
3. County residents, fish, animals, and basically the entire state of Oregon is going to suffer.
4. And for what? So that more timber can be exported because logs are at record low
Basically, now we are working on what to do next.
There is still leeway in this, because this decision started the ball rolling to implement the plan, but it is not over yet. The Board has until April to debate about how to define Greatest Permanent Value for the forests, and the terms of two members are almost up, so hopefully in April the Board will vote to do something different. Until then, keep writing those letters, sending emails, and making your voice heard!