Logging on Oregon’s O&C lands has been a source of controversy for years, with some arguing that the trees should be cut to generate funding for Lane and other historically timber-based counties, and others saying the days of chopping down the ecosystem to pay for county services need to end. This week, the Lane County Board of Commissioners will discuss, and possibly vote on, whether it should give the pro-logging Association of O&C Counties the authority to represent Lane if a Lane County representative isn’t available as the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) begins a new planning effort for managing the O&C lands.
According to Commissioner Faye Stewart, a board conservative from a longtime timber family, the MOU (memorandum of understanding) gives “Lane County cooperator status in the planning process.” He says the same MOU was used in the Western Oregon Plan Revision (WOPR) planning process. Stewart is Lane County’s representative to the AOCC.
In its 2007 WOPR comments, the AOCC argued that the public’s O&C lands should be used for generating timber, not preserving wildlife, such as endangered species, or old-growth trees.
Lane County pays $37,000 a year in dues to the AOCC, according to Commissioner Rob Handy. Oregon Wild argued successfully to the board in 2009 that it should stop paying those dues, but the decision was later overturned.
Doug Heiken of Oregon Wild says, “It’s a shame that Lane County will align itself with the radical pro-logging agenda of the Association of O&C Counties — even worse that the board will continue to send scarce public money to this group that does nothing but try to log our forests, pollute our water and ruin our quality of life.”
He adds, “Citizens will have to work overtime to make sure the public voice is heard clearly. We want our forests and watersheds protected so they can recover from decades of abusive clearcutting.”
Commissioner Handy says materials related to the possible Wednesday, Aug. 1, vote on giving the AOCC representation for Lane County were not posted with the online agenda until July 31, a day before the meeting. He says this is a result of a two-tiered communication system at the county that deliberately includes the conservative board majority and the county administrator and excludes the other two commissioners.
Handy says, “We need a collaborative and grassroots efforts alternative developed for the BLM’s O&C lands, something that I am confident can come out of the scoping process that the BLM is currently embarking on.” He says to do this “we must soundly reject the ill-conceived idea to privatize public lands for further pirating of our natural resources and a sustainable economy, jobs for locals and revenue streams for public services.” — Camilla Mortensen