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by Center for Biological Diversity
PORTLAND, Ore. Oct. 1, 2013 — Holding dozens of banners and signs opposing clearcutting, more than 200 people gathered today outside the office of Sen. Ron Wyden at Portland's Holladay Park for an hour-long rally in support of policies that include responsible management of Oregon's publically owned forests.
The rally was designed to send a message to Sen. Wyden and other Oregon legislative representatives that a legislative proposal to increase clearcutting in Oregon to generate revenue for rural counties will hurt the environment and harm the diverse, sustainable industries that represent the future of the state's rural economies.
"It is a false choice to suggest that clearcut logging is needed for the health of rural economies," said Randi Spivak with the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the rally's organizers. "In fact, this approach will harm sustainable economies that depend on clean water, healthy fisheries and intact forests, The message sent to Senator Wyden today was clear: Don't clearcut our children's future."
Reps. Peter DeFazio (D.-Ore.), Kurt Schrader (D.-Ore.) and Greg Walden (R.-Ore.) have proposed to effectively privatize 1.5 million acres of public land in western Oregon known as the "O&C" lands, turning it over to a private logging "trust" to be managed under the Oregon Forest Practices Act, where clearcutting is rampant. Sen. Wyden is currently developing his own plan for expanded logging of public lands in the western part of the state. Speakers at today's rally said management of Oregon's federal forests should be based on an accurate understanding of the state's modern economy and of where the greatest opportunities for growth are instead of trying to solve county budget issues by sanctioning ill-advised, unsustainable clearcutting projects.
Spivak said proposals that promise to make up county budget shortfalls by liquidating public lands fail to take into account that more than 1.8 million Oregonian's drinking water from streams that flow through U.S. Bureau of Land Management lands in Western Oregon.
"These lands and watersheds are the foundation of healthy, sustainable industries such as organic farming, world-class fishing and outdoor recreation opportunities that bring hundreds of millions of dollars and jobs to rural economies," said Spivak.
Angela Wartes is an organic farmer who spoke at the rally. During her remarks she urged Sen. Wyden "to support rural communities in a way that keeps us all safe, to fund our local schools and services in a way that doesn't require clearcutting more public land and applying more herbicides. Protect our watersheds and our water. Don't increase jobs in logging that can harm jobs in other industries."
Ernie Niemi, president of Natural Resource Economics, who also spoke at the rally said: "The total number of timber-related jobs generated by industrial logging of the O&C lands would be smaller than Oregon's economy is creating every six weeks or so." He added that the impacts of clearcutting "on clean water, salmon populations, and recreational opportunities, however, will have a malignant effect on growth in other industries. Recent research conducted at Oregon State University Rural Oregon shows that community wealth has grown faster in communities near protected forests than in those farther away."
Travis Williams, executive director of Willamette Riverkeepers, said: "It is ironic that as millions of dollars are being spent to restore habitat along the Willamette and its tributaries, and to improve fish passage at dams in the Willamette system, this proposal to log vast tracts of public land works against that restoration effort. It simply does not make sense."
Tom Wolf, executive director of Oregon Council Trout Unlimited said: "Fishing brings in almost $1 billion into the Oregon economy every year. Much of this money comes from the use of restaurants, hotels, gas stations, tackle shops and fishing guides in rural communities."
Video footage of the event is available here: http://youtu.be/SN9iIU6_hw8
Photos by Kelli Pennington and Martin Evans.