Take, for example, a bill in the Oregon House of Representatives
that could lock up more than 1 million acres of Oregon
forestland. House Bill 2656 would ban timber harvests,
road-building and the use of pesticides and fertilizers in any
forest watersheds that provide drinking water to cities and
Such a ďconversation starterĒ is more like a punch in the nose
for the stateís timber industry. State and federal timber
regulations already protect water quality, yet this bill could
virtually shut the industry down in some areas of the state.
Hampton Lumber estimates more than half of its 89,000 acres
would be impacted by the bill.
Under the bill, any activities would have to be approved by the
state Board of Forestry. Because the plans would be made public
ahead of time, one might also assume that environmental groups
would insert themselves into the issue the same way they have in
other timber management issues. In other words, the lawsuits
would start flying.
The first question that comes to mind: Is there a problem with
Oregonís drinking water quality? Interestingly enough, the
Oregon Association of Water Utilities just awarded the city of
Stayton an award for the best tasting drinking water in the
state. It is the third straight year the city has been honored.
Stayton gets all of its drinking water from the North Santiam
River, whose watershed has been logged for decades.
It should be noted that municipal utilities are required to
constantly monitor their water quality. If there was a problem,
it would be found immediately.
During a recent hearing, those who want to control and hamstring
the timber industry tried to link the blue-green algae outbreak
at Detroit Lake to logging. Just where, exactly, was that
alleged logging taking place? Scientists say warm weather had as
much to do with the bloom as anything else.
Itís clear that this bill, like others making the rounds during
the legislative session, is just another anti-logging, anti-jobs
and anti-economy measure aimed at shutting down an industry that
has been part of the stateís backbone.
If logging is so terrible, why are we all surrounded by the
green of public and private forests?
Well-managed forests have long been a large part of Oregonís
history ó and its future, if the legislature and
environmentalists donít shut it down. The timber industry is in
every sense the epitome of a renewable resource. Even those who
donít like logging probably live in houses built using lumber
from Oregonís forests.
And thereís more. New technology is allowing the stateís timber
industry to take part in a revolution in which mass plywood and
cross laminated lumber will be become an important part of
future construction projects around the world.
Yet some folks want to start a conversation about stopping that.
ďHouse Bill 2656 is an unnecessary and extreme solution in
search of a problem,Ē said Mary Anne Cooper, vice president of
public policy for the Oregon Farm Bureau.
That about sums it up.
If there are any problems, letís address them in a meaningful
and targeted manner. If there arenít any problems, then maybe
the conversation should end.
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