News Briefs: Clearcuts Looming on State Lands | Seneca Seeks to Log Old Growth | Stormy City Budget | Improving School Lunch | Wetlands Month | More People Than Ever Homeless | Plants: Some Invade, Some Don’t | Activist Alert | War Dead | Lighten Up |
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
CLEARCUTS LOOMING ON STATE LANDS
The management of Oregons state forests and efforts to increase logging and clearcutting on them came under fire at a recent Oregon Board of Forestry meeting. Opponents fear an increase in logging will harm recreation and spotted owls and other Endangered Species Act (ESA) listed animals that use the forests.
|A clearcut in the Elliott State Forrest. Photo by Chuck Griffin|
OSUs Institute for Natural Resources reviewed the Department of Forestrys science in its evaluation of forest management plans and a strategy for dealing with “species of concern,” including northern spotted owls, voles, amphibians, salmon and steelhead in the Tillamook and Clatsopstate forests. The departments plan called for an increase in logging that would bring old growth habitat to as low as 30 percent of the forest.
Ivan Maluski of the Sierra Club, who attended the April 29 meeting, said the science review found that the state “did a really good job figuring out how to get the cut out,” but did not do as good a job taking into account issues like habitat and recreation. The department, he said, was criticized for not taking the “best available science” into account.
The INR science report “revealed a real bias for timber production” in the way the state forests are managed, Maluski said. He said the proposed plan “short-shrifted the assets these forests provide” to rural communities in terms of profit from recreation.
The Elliott State Forest near the proposed Devils Staircase Wilderness also came up for discussion at the Board of Forestry meeting. Josh Laughlin of Eugene-based Cascadia Wildlands testified at the meeting and asked the board to wait on its rulemaking process for the new forest management plan. Laughlin said the plan would have severe impacts to ESA-listed coho salmon, spotted owls and marbled murrelets.
The new state plan for the Elliott would move from preserving 64 percent of the older forest habitat to only 30 percent, Laughlin said. He said scientists have found the plan for managing riparian areas (near streams) to be faulty. Cascadia Wildlands is calling for thinning, land exchanges and using carbon credits to leave trees standing rather than clearcutting.
The board voted 5-2 to implement the state plan that would increase clearcutting.
The public can submit written comments on the Elliott plan, which would take effect in January 2012. The comment period ends Aug. 1. For more information or to submit a comment, go to the Board of Forestrys website at http://wkly.ws/129 ã Camilla Mortensen
SENECA SEEKS TO LOG OLD GROWTH
Seneca Jones Timber and Seneca Sawmill are fighting to log an old-growth forest in the McKenzie watershed ã the source of Eugenes drinking water. The timber sale has spurred protests as has Senecas new biomass burning cogeneration plant.
|Joann Ernst at Seneca. Photo by Camilla Mortensen.|
Trapper was first proposed as a timber sale in 1998, and according to Josh Laughlin of Cascadia Wildlands, which has been battling the sale in the courts. “Trapper doesnt reflect the direction the Forest Service has been headed the last five to 10 years,” Laughlin says. Seneca has refused an alternative volume of timber offered by the Forest Service, he adds.
EWEB Commissioner Joann Ernst, who held a sign protesting old-growth logging at Trapper during a protest of the May 5 Seneca grand opening, says that in 2005 the Eugene City Council passed a resolution asking the Forest Service not to log old-growth forests in the McKenzie River watershed, and she has asked the council to send a letter to Seneca asking it not to log Trapper and other old growth. Ernst was speaking as a citizen and not in her role as EWEB commissioner.
EWEB Commissioner Rich Cunningham recently got a motion passed to write a draft resolution at the June 7 EWEB board meeting that would censor Ernst for her comments on Seneca’s old-growth logging.
The 149-acre Trapper area has been under contract to be logged by Seneca since 2003. Laughlin says that the Forest Service recently pulled six prime acres of threatened spotted owl habitat out of the sale after a consultation with the Fish and Wildlife service. Trapper is habitat for red tree voles, the food of choice for northern spotted owls, and owls have been seen there as well.
The Trapper timber sale has been held up in the past by biological opinions that were found to be illegal, Laughlin says. A recent site-specific biological opinion under the new spotted owl recovery plan is no better, he says, calling the effects analysis to endangered species “bungled.”
Laughlin says there has been a “voluntary stay from all the parties until the case is briefed” on logging Trapper, but that stay will be lifted at the end of July, when the spotted owl-nesting season ends.
Activists from Cascadia Forest Defenders and Ecosystem Advocates Northwest, who held signs and banners at the Seneca protest, have expressed concern that logging slash from Trapper and older ancient forests could be burned in the plant. The state of Oregon gives companies “biomass producer or collector tax credits,” which Seneca could be earning in addition to millions in federal and state credits for its biomass burning facility. For more on biomass see EW cover 5/12. ã Camilla Mortensen
STORMY CITY BUDGET
The city of Eugene is weathering a fiscal “perfect storm” of recession, expiring library levy, increasing retirement costs and dwindling reserves, but it’s boosting police spending, Eugene City Manager Jon Ruiz told the City Council this month in his annual proposed budget.
Ruiz projects that the city will dip into the red in two years at the current spending trend. But rather than closing fire stations, pools, park restrooms, reducing library hours or cutting jail beds, “I recommend we monitor the economy for another year” to see if city property tax revenue, which dropped 3 percent last year, picks up.
The extra year, Ruiz wrote, “also allows time for the City Council to consider new revenue sources….The rate at which the gap between expenditures and revenues is growing, coupled with the importance that citizens place on our services and the improbability of rapid economic recovery, requires that we explore new revenue sources to fund city services that the community needs.”
With property tax increases restricted by state law and the recession, the city has increasingly pursued a strategy of jacking up fees and fines. “User fees are the fastest growing source of revenues for the entire budget,” Ruizs proposed budget states. In the past decade, fee revenue has grown at about twice the rate of property tax revenue. The city now collects almost twice as much revenue in fees/fines as it does in property taxes.
To help balance the budget, Ruiz proposes across the board cuts of 2 percent in department general fund spending. But some spending areas will get more money.
Employee retirement (PERS) spending will increase by a third to 14 percent of wages. Health benefit spending will increase by 8.7 percent. Most employees will get a 2 percent raise. Firefighters will take an extra 7 days off instead of a raise.
The Police department is the most rapid area of increased city spending. The police budget has increased 51 percent in the last decade and now consumes more than a quarter of the citys general fund.
Last year the city used “urban renewal” financing to divert $5 million from state school funding and local governments to add 7 police officers to arrest homeless people downtown. This year Ruiz proposes renting 10 more jail beds at $35,000 each to imprison the homeless people the new officers are arresting.
In addition, the city last year spent $15 million to move the police headquarters out of downtown to Country Club Road across the river. This year, the city will boost the police budget by $116,000 a year to pay the higher upkeep cost of the big new building.
Other added city spending includes $94,000 for a new climate and energy analyst and $800,000 for a new automated carwash for airport vehicles. ã Alan Pittman
IMPROVING SCHOOL LUNCH
School lunch: pizza, tater tots, “meat surprise” and unidentifiable glop Ä Thats what a lot of Eugeneans might remember from childhood, but the group Eugene Coalition for Better School Food is working with Eugene 4J Schools to make sure that glop is only a memory ã and for higher nutrition standards in the future.
Together with the School Garden Project, Farm to School and Lane Coalition for Healthy Active Youth, ECBSF is hosting a talk by Daniel Marks, who is a pediatric endocrinologist and director of the Oregon Child Health Research Center at OHSU. “Do You Know What Your Kids Ate Today?” will focus on the way nutrition impacts kids from conception to adulthood, according to Ann Magee of the ECBSF steering committee. A panel following the Thursday, May 19 presentation will also feature an assistant 4J food service director and a local teacher, among others.
ECBSF created an ambitious list of goals for the 2010-11 school year, including making nutritional information accessible to parents and the elimination of high-fructose corn syrup and artificial flavors and preservatives. The 4J district has agreed to provide ECBSF with its entire trove of recipes and plans to incrementally reduce some of the worst health offenders.
Magee says that while shed still like to cut out unhealthy food additives, shes pleased that the provider of 4J school food, Sodexo, has been willing to open a dialogue and compromise toward healthy goals. “Although they have not agreed to meet with our goals, they have been willing to work with us, provide information and they agreed to measurable improvements year by year.”
Bring questions and ideas to the Jefferson Arts & Technology Academy at 6:30 pm Thursday, May 19. ã Shannon Finnell
Most people are probably unaware that May is American Wetlands Month. But Willamette Resources and Educational Network (WREN) is doing its part to get people involved and keep the celebration aqueous with local events for Eugeneans to check out.
On Saturday, May 7 WREN hosted a citizen scientist “Wetland Monitoring and Data Collection Day,” which started with an educational session giving participants background information on the importance of wetlands and wetland invertebrates in the Northwest ã those little creepy-crawlies without a backbone such as insects, worms and crayfish.
Aquatic macro-invertebrates can be used to assess wetland quality in the Willamette Valley based on an Index of Biological Integrity developed by the Xerces Society, an international nonprofit whose goal is to protect and conserve invertebrates and their habitat.
The final results for the West Eugene Wetlands, a rare wet prairie habitat, wont be known “until all the invertebrates have been identified and the data are analyzed and compared to the data we compiled from the wetlands we sampled in the Willamette Valley for the last four years,” according to Celeste Mazzacano, staff scientist from the Xerces Society.
If you missed your chance to be a citizen-scientist, you can still go explore the wetlands at WRENs 5th Annual “Walkin & Rollin” event 10 am to 2 pm Saturday, May 21. The event encourages participants to celebrate American Wetlands Month by biking, rolling or walking the Fern Ridge Bike Path through the West Eugene Wetlands between Bailey Hill and Greenhill roads.
This free, all ages event will host local experts and organizations that will use educational displays to explain the many wonders of the wetlands. Those who plan to travel from booth to booth learning about the wetlands will receive a “wetland passport” they can have stamped at each station for a chance to win prizes.
Visit wewetlands.org for more information about this event and the history of the West Eugene Wetlands. ®® Chelsea Fryhoff
MORE PEOPLE THAN EVER HOMELESS
A record number of people showed up for Project Homeless Connect (PHC) this year, according to organizers who released statistics and survey results recently. The event March 17 at the Fairgrounds accommodated 1,595 guests, the highest number documented in the events five-year history.
One third of guests spent the previous night sleeping outdoors or in an uninhabitable place; 27 percent were doubled-up with another household; and 22 percent reported being housed but at risk of homelessness.
PHC provides a broad array of services once a year to feed, clothe and otherwise assist people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. More than 800 volunteers are involved (coordinated by United Way), the Fairgrounds donates space, LTD offers free bus rides, and numerous agencies and health care providers participate.
“Project Homeless Connect is a day when transformations occur,” says Richie Weinman who coordinates the event. “People with vision problems receive no-cost vision exams and eye glasses. People who are in pain receive dental care. People get haircuts and walk away feeling better about themselves.”
PLANTS: SOME INVADE, SOME DONT
April showers brought May flowers, and some flowering plants such as blackberries yield yummy fruit, but they also are a big headache for Mount Pisgah Arboretum. Daffodils on the other hand, are no big deal.
For the past 30 years the arboretum has been combating Armenian blackberries, (aka Himalayan blackberries), which can grow basically anywhere and everywhere, with manual labor and help from volunteer groups.
“If you want to get some aggression out, its really great,” said Ryan Heidt, site assistant at Mount Pisgah, of hand-pulling blackberry roots.
The staff at Mount Pisgah hosts at least two volunteer work parties every weekend to try and get rid of as many of these invaders as possible and also to work on other projects around the arboretum.
This old and pesky blackberry intruder can be seen lurking and creeping around almost every area on the grounds and has been for a while, which cant be said of the geranium lucidum, or shiny geranium, the sites newest unwelcome guest, according to Heidt.
These little green, almost clover shaped, leaves create a lush-looking carpet on the ground of many of the denser forested areas in the arboretum.
“Its awful and spreading everywhere,” said Heidt.
Its not certain how these two invasive species got to the Willamette Valley, but it could have happened one of three ways.
According to Tom LoCascio, Mount Pisgah site manager, people could have brought blackberries over long ago because they saw economic value in having these fruit-bearing plants available to them and their community.
A second way is the same way earthworms got here ã ships from other continents used soil and sand as ballast to balance out the load. When the ships got into port, the unloaded soil could have spread seeds from other countries on to our shores.
The third way, and how most invasives are being spread now, is by hitchhiking. Seeds can be caught on peoples cars, clothes, dogs, hiking gear and especially boots. Both Heidt and LoCascio strongly urge hikers to be aware of where they go and to always take the time to clean their gear before and after hiking (this includes your dogs if you bring them) to insure that no invasive seeds are being spread into our park areas as well as other areas around the country.
Not all nonnatives are invasive. Agricultural plants, fruit trees and flowers such as the tulips and daffodils blooming all around us now are a few of the positive visitors you can plant in your backyard garden. Heidt recommends anything that doesnt spread.
“Theyre nonnative but they dont take over an area; you dont walk into a forest and see it completely covered in daffodils,” said Heidt.
If you’re looking for fruit bearers to replace those dreaded blackberries, Diane Wennstrom, the bedding plant buyer from Grays Garden Center in Eugene, recommends noninvasive, nonnative berries such as raspberries, blueberries and strawberries. And if you’re looking for something a little more robust, like fruit trees, she says to go for apple, pear, peach and cherry trees.
For more information and to get involved with the volunteer work parties at Mount Pisgah visit mountpisgaharboretum.org. ®® Chelsea Fryhoff
« Reed College associate professor Kambiz GhaneaBassiri will lecture at 5:30 pm Thursday, May 19, in the Center for Meeting and Learning, Room 104, on the main campus of LCC. His address is titled, “American Muslims and the American Body Politic.” His talk will review the controversy that arose last year around a proposed Muslim community center in Lower Manhattan.
« Oregon journalist Jeff Mapes, author of Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists are Changing American Cities, will speak at 6:30 pm Thursday, May 19, at Cozmic Pizza, 8th & Charnelton, preceded by a 5:30social hour and presentation of the results of a bike rack design competition.
« Congressman Peter DeFazio will speak at 7 pm Thursday, May 19, at Temple Beth Israel, 1175 E. 29th Ave. His talk, sponsored by J Street Eugene, will be on “The View from the House in 2011: Reflections on the Changing Landscapes of National and Global Politics.”
« Lane County Sheriff Tom Turner and Lane County DA Alex Gardner are hosting a series of community meetings to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the public safety system, listen to community concerns and answer questions from area residents. The next meeting will be from 11:30 am to 1 pm Thursday, May 19, at the Community Center, 175 W. 7th St. in Junction City.
« “Our Oceans ã Fish in Our Future?” is the topic at City Club of Eugene at 11:45 am Friday, May 20, at the Hilton Ballroom, 12th floor. Speakers are marine expert Gus Gates of the Surfrider Foundation, Lane County Commissioner Pete Sorenson and retired commercial fisherman and current Lincoln County Commissioner Terry Thompson.
« “Fact in the Age of Truthiness” is a free panel discussion on opinion in news journalism from 10 am to noon Friday, May 20, at Gerlinger Alumni Lounge on the UO campus. Limited seating. Register at jcomm.uoregon.edu/reg
« A film screening of Grounds for Resistance, a documentary by Lisa Gilman, UO Folklore Program director, will be at 7 pm Tuesday, May 24 at Lawrence Hall, Room 115 on campus. The 50-minute film is about Coffee Strong, a coffee shop outside the gates of Fort Lewis in Washington inspired by the activist Vietnam-era Coffee House Movement.
« Many Rivers Group Oregon Chapter Sierra Club will hold its monthly Beer Social from 7 to 9 pm Thursday, May 26, at High Street Brewery, 1243 High St., in Eugene. To get on the mailing list, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://wkly.ws/qk
« The Oregon Global Warming Commission is posting an online survey to provide feedback on the 2020 Roadmap, as well as the states efforts to reduce its greenhouse gas footprint. The survey is at http://wkly.ws/12c and comments on issues of relevance to the Global Warming Commission can be emailed to Oregon.GWC@state.or.us
« The week of May 23, groups around the country are mobilizing their members to contact Congress to end the war in Afghanistan. Info at email@example.com and www.unitedforpeace.org
« 1,564 U.S. troops killed* (1,562)
« 11,314 U.S. troops wounded in action (11,191)
« 763 U.S. contractors killed (763)
« $403.8 billion cost of war ($402.6 billion)
« $114.8 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($114.5 million)
« 4,421 U.S. troops killed (4,421)
« 31,931 U.S. troops wounded in action (31,931)
« 185 U.S. military suicides (updates NA)
« 1,537 U.S. contractors killed (1,537)
« 110,061 to 1.2 million civilians killed* (110,005)
« $789.9 billion cost of war $789.2 billion)
« $224.6 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($224.4 million)
Through May 13, 2011; sources: icasualties.org; defense.gov, U.S. Dept. of Labor
* highest estimate; source: iraqbodycount.org; based on confirmed media reports; other groups calculate Iraqi civilian deaths as high as 655,000 (Lancet survey, 2006) to 1.2 million (Opinion Research Business survey, 2008)
Why is the school board engaged in land use planning for its Civic Stadium property? The city has a whole department for that. School boards should stick to what theyre good at: planning school lunch menus. – Rafael Aldave
EW offices will be closed Memorial Day Monday, May 30. The early deadline for reserving display ad space in our June 2 Summer Guide issue is 5 pm Thursday, May 26. For more information, call 484-0519.
« Kids and jobs were dealt a blow this week with the defeat of the city income tax for schools. School supporters did all they could to pass the tax but couldnt overcome a mountain of obstacles thrown in their path. The City Council balked at referring an income tax on the wealthy like successful state Measure 66 and instead only excluded those living in poverty from the tax. Wealthy conservatives poured more than $100,000, a record for a local anti-tax campaign, into defeating the school funding with lies and distortions. The Register-Guard and local TV news opposed the tax and spread the misinformation widely. The school board put a competing property tax bond on the ballot. Other obstacles included divisive school closures, coverage of the new superintendents salary, teachers union negotiations, tepid school union and board support and the fact that its always easier to tear down something than to build it with a new idea. But its also hard to kill a great idea. Now, Eugene knows that it doesnt have to simply be a victim of brutal school funding cuts by the state, it can do something about it in the days ahead.
« June 1 is supposed to be the date the 4J school board decides what happens to the ten-acre Civic Stadium site near the center of Eugene. Remember that the city generously gave that land to the school district and generations of kids and families have used it. Remember that elected officials of Eugene generously offered to help the schools with an income tax for the next four years. So why dont the district and the city collaborate to do something great with that prize property? Maybe combine the “Y” and the “Save Civic” proposals. Maybe look for federal funding to help run a trolley from the train and bus stations down Willamette to Woodfield Station. That would remedy parking issues. Maybe ask UO urban designers and city planners to come up with better ideas for ten precious acres.
« The upside of Congressman DeFazios town hall at Campbell Center in Eugene May 16 was the civility. Last summer when 8,000 people turned out for all his town halls, there was remarkable rudeness. But Pete always has run these meetings with his blend of intelligence, toughness and tolerance, and Oregonians largely respect that. The downside this spring is his role in the House: minority. Hes no longer chair of the transportation subcommittee. DeFazio talked mostly about Medicare and Social Security solutions. The relevant numbers most depressing to us: The U.S. spends more on the military than the rest of the world combined; the military budget is about $800 billion, the rest of the operating budget is about $500 billion; every agency is audited except the Pentagon; of the income for the average household in the 4th Congressional District ($54,320), the federal government takes 20.2 percent for defense, 4.7 percent for Iraq and Afghanistan and 3% for weapons and equipment procurement.
« Sheryl WuDunns message to a packed EMU ballroom May 11 was this: “The central moral challenge of this century is gender inequity.” She and husband Nicholas Kristof, authors of Half the Sky: The Greatest Unexploited Resource in the World Today Isnt Oil or Gold or Wind. Its Women, pound that theme effectively although problems dwarf solutions. Leaving the ballroom after her lecture, most women must have shared our wonder at the luck that we, and our daughters and granddaughters, were born in Oregon rather than the Congo or some other hellhole. As WuDunn put it, “we all have won the lottery of life.”
« Ann Currys recent elevation to co-host of NBCs “Today” show was a fitting final tribute to Ken Metzler who died April 11 at age 82. A student of his in the UO journalism school, Curry often credited Professor Metzler with teaching her what she needed to make it in national TV news. She honored him both nationally and in Oregon when she returned to the campus as a famous graduate. He taught the important reporting course and wrote countless articles and six books, including a classic on interviewing. His service at First Congregational Church on May 9 memorialized Ken Metzlers zest for life ã in the classroom, on white-water rivers, with his family and friends, in front of a keyboard, even riding with Eugene cops to learn about their lives.
SLANT includes short opinion pieces, observations and rumor-chasing notes compiled by the EW staff. Heard any good rumors lately? Contact Ted Taylor at 484-0519, editor at eugeneweekly dot com