Herald and News 6/2/08
JOHN DAY, Ore. (AP) — Few Oregon counties were home to as fierce battles in the forest wars than remote Grant County, pitting environmentalist against loggers, and often winding up in court.
But slowly, things are changing, even in Grant County, where a group of environmentalists, mill owners, timber cutters and government officials recently found some common ground, far outside the confines of the courtroom.
“When I applied for the position it was labeled a hostile community,” Stan Benes, who took over as Malheur National Forest supervisor two years ago, said. “It was the most unlikely place for this to happen, but it did.”
At issue was the U.S. Forest Service’s plan to log part of the forest burned in 2006 by the 14,527-acre Shake Table fire about 20 miles southwest of John Day.
In March, the Forest Service announced plans for the so-called Thorn salvage sale, and it was appealed by four conservation groups — Oregon Wild, the Sierra Club, Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project and Cascadia Wildlands Project — and a timber industry group, the Portland-based American Forest Resource Council.
Usually, environmentalists consider salvage logging harmful to forest recovery. Timber interests counter that logging after a fire can speed forest growth while limiting future fires and providing valuable logs for mills that have been shuttered or cut back because of the logging falloff.
None of the parties involved in the Thorn and Egley agreement changed the others’ minds. But all sides agreed to give a little to each get something, said Rep. Chuck Burley, R-Bend.
Prevents logging in Allows another long road-free areas and live old-growth stands in the Shake Table burn while allowing logging of pine trees that pose a hazard.
Restricts conservation groups from appealing an expedited environmental review of disputed timber sale to go forward that would provide enough lumber for 500 single-family homes.
Provides a framework for the parties to work on a future thinning project under the Healthy Forest Restoration Act.