SALEM, Ore. — The Oregon Lands Board today unanimously approved a plan to increase logging on the only state forest that puts revenue directly toward education.
The board — consisting of Gov. John Kitzhaber, Secretary of State Kate Brown, and Treasurer Ted Wheeler — signed off on the proposal as dozens of protesters assembled outside the State Lands Building in Salem. The marchers were able to watch the proceedings through a window. Before the three Democratic statewide office holders approved the plan, protesters briefly interrupted the meeting.
Environmental groups bused in protesters from Portland and Eugene. Long-time activist Tre Arrow led the group in a sing-along outside the Land Board headquarters.
Read about five things you should know about logging on the Elliott State Forest.
“The time is now for the people to rise up,” he said prior to the board’s vote.
But the pleas were not enough to convince the Land Board. After the vote to approve an increased timber harvest, the room erupted in jeers and chants of “Kitzhaber lied, forests died.”
“It’s a hard one to see everything being destroyed so quickly for just logging money,” said protester Mahogany Aulenbach, who came to Salem from Monroe, Oregon.
Oregon Treasurer Ted Wheeler said the plan will boost revenue for the state school fund and provide jobs.
“I’m convinced that there’s no such thing as a perfect proposal. But this was a good attempt to balance competing interests,” he said.
Governor John Kitzhaber says the Land Board will revisit the plan next year to see if adjustments are needed.
The Elliott State Forest is 93,000 acre, located in the Coast Range between Coos Bay and Reedsport. Proceeds from timber sales go into Oregon’s Common School Fund. The policy shift would increase school dollars by about $4 million a year, according to projections.
The plan increases logging from the recent 25 million board feet to about 40 million board feet. The historic levels are around 50 million board feet. The proposal now goes to the state Board of Forestry, which is expected to take action on Nov. 3.
The proposal, drawn up by the state Forestry Department, relies on a new strategy for protecting threatened and endangered species, including the northern spotted owl and the marbled murrelet. Rather than set aside habitat, the department would scour the forest for these species to make sure they’re not living in areas where logging is planned.
While environmental groups have scorned the plan. The forest-products industry has supported it.
(On-the-scene reporting for this story comes from the Northwest News Network.)
Congrats to David James for his winning submission, 'Annabella smelling the Balsam.'
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