Take Back Oregon Forests!
On May 21, 2011, the 912 Project Salem sponsored a day long seminar focusing on Oregon forests. We had several well respected experts who covered a wide range of topics to help separate the fact from fiction concerning growth statistics, job opportunities for Oregon resources, and possible revenues to fund Oregon public schools.
The speakers were:
1. Karla Kay Edwards, Rural Policy Analyst, Cascade Policy Institute, [now the head of AFP – Oregon]
2. Professor Jim Huffman, Lewis andClark College Portland, OR; U.S.Constitution and Federal Forest Lands Regulation
3. Jim Geisinger Executive Vice President, Associated OregonLoggers:
4. Mike Dubrasich, Western Institute of the Study of the Environment
5. Fred Thompson, Former VP Georgia Pacific and Louisiana Pacific, Forest Industry Consultant
6. Dr. Mike Newton, Professor Emeritus,College of Forestry,Oregon State University
Here are the facts:
- In 1960,Crater LakeNational Park was the only area of Oregon reserved from forest management. Today, more than 2.6 million acres of Oregon forests are congressionally withdrawn from forest production.
- Of the more than 30 million forested acres inOregon, the federal government controls more than 60%. These lands are permanently withdrawn from the tax rolls.
- At present, it is estimated that there are 700 billion board feet of standing timber in Oregon, growing at an annual rate of 11 billion board feet, net of fire, insects and disease.
- Annual harvest is about 2.75 billion board feet, most of which comes from private lands.
- 5 to 10 billion board feet per year are lost through fire, insects, and disease. These losses often destroy important habitat for species of concern. For example, the 2002 Biscuit Fire destroyed an estimated 75 Spotted Owl Circles.
- The federal government pursues policies that promote:
Don’t touch it! Let it burn! Watch it rot!
The net result of federal neglect of Oregon forests is a resource that is becoming more decrepit, less healthy and more fire prone with each passing year.
Each board foot of timber is worth, conservatively, $1.00. Thus, solely from neglect, we are losing $5 to 10 billion each year, income that once was shared by the US Treasury, counties and Oregon Public Schools. Timber sale income from federal forests are shared with Oregon counties, a resource that has dwindled to almost zero. Payments in lieu of timber sale receipts to counties are due to expire at the end of 2011. The most important thing we grow in Oregon is children! Schools were one of the major beneficiaries of the revenue from Oregon’s forest, and now that source of funding has been significantly reduced.
It also all about JOBS!!!!
Since 1960, Oregon has lost more than 33,000 jobs due to only to the closure of mills that were dependent on federal timber.
- At present, over 63,000 Oregonians are employed in the forest sector, earning an average of $49,500 per year. These wages are 45% higher than the state average.
- Green energy and recreation jobs at $8.50 an hour are not a livable wage and a path to economic stability!
- Our productive forest lands are capable of supporting many more living wage jobs while maintaining wildlife habitat and recreation opportunities.
Oregon has some of the most stringent forest practice laws in the nation. These laws require reforestation within two years of timber harvesting, protection of water resources, protection of wildlife habitat, limits on the size of clear-cuts, and proper road construction and maintenance. Forest operations in the 21st century are much improved over those of even 20 years ago, resulting in much higher resource protection.
What can we do?
The seminar participants identified three principal action areas where 912 Project Salem can impact:
Education – focus on jobs and the economy
§ General public, especially urban areas o fOregon
§ Politicians – county commissioners, state legislators, mayors
§ Supporting candidates that will work to open up federal forests
§ Build multi-state western coalition of tea party organizations to focus on control and mismanagement of land and natural resources by the federal government.
TEA Comment: Thanks Salem!