Lane Co. Commissioner wants to restore timber revenue

By Suzanne Penegor and Gienie Assink

Douglas County Commissioner Doug Robertson spoke to the Lane County Rubicon Society on June 28th regarding the significance of returning O&C lands intended for timber production back to Oregonians, in order to restore critical revenue for rapidly decreasing county services. Over the last decade, the extremist agenda of most environmental groups has had negative effects financially for Oregon counties. Clearly, the pendulum has swung too far left. Balance is critical if we are to stabilize income for local communities and restore Oregon’s dignity by getting off of federal welfare.

Robertson told Rubicon members he identified with Lane County voters who recently trounced a newly proposed county income tax measure, intended to substitute lost timber dollars, by 71 percent of the vote. Unquestionably, voters cannot bear the economic financial strain multimillion dollar, tax-exempt environmental groups such as the Sierra Club impose–nor do they want to.

The socioeconomic cost of these O&C lockups has resulted in increased crime rates as well. Communities all over Oregon continue to struggle with maintaining federal “payments to counties” to retain vital public safety services.

Because of the ever-increasing problem of repeat offenders and the overwhelming financial restraints placed on county budgets, Robertson suggests congress should take a look at the $70 million currently available in forestry reserve funds–and find a way to use those funds to restore local public safety services. After several rigorous discussions regarding O&C reserve spending, Robertson and the O&C association were successful in finding a legal solution to allow some of the reserve funds to be used for public safety services. “This solution is not a permanent fix”, Robertson says.

Robertson’s group combined efforts with the American Forest Resource Council, and intends on fighting back by using legal means to try and return O&C Lands to their original use. They argue the O&C Act should be entirely removed from the Northwest Forest Plan former President Clinton implemented which reduced timber harvesting dramatically throughout Oregon and other western states.

Robertson and the American Forest Resource Council have created a settlement plan which calls for regular reviews regarding the status of protected species. This plan also creates guidelines which would maintain protected areas. The goal is to be inclusive of all sides of the issue. This proposed plan would also incorporate the basic principles of the 1937 O&C Act, restoring critical funding immediately to financially strapped communities like Douglas and Lane Counties. Other Oregon counties such as Benton and Jackson have felt the financial impact of environmental lockups of their tax bases as well. As a result, they have endured the loss of many community services, such as public libraries, for lack of funding. Because of the harmful Impact to communities, the issue of balance and restoration of the critical O&C tax base for economic use should be a priority for all Oregon counties and voters who have been affected.

Gienie Assink of Springfield and Suzanne Penegor of Eugene are active Rubicon members. Rubicon Society of Lane County serves to educate the general public of the rich diversity of ideas with in our local community. Meetings held every Thursday at noon at Pearl Street Ice Cream Parlour located at 13th and Pearl in Eugene.

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Posted by at 06:00 | Posted in Measure 37 | 17 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Jerry

    Cut those trees, quick, so we can make more books for the closed libraries.
    Gotta have more money – no matter what – quick, cut ’em down! Maybe they’ll fall without a sound.

  • DMF

    Did it ever occur to you the lack of logging in Oregon has been detrimental, that would have a lot to do with closed libraries. I live in a Timber community, and I can tell you the losses have been staggering.

    You’re being snide and it appears to me, you don’t have a clue

  • Jeff

    While I definitely think we should be opening up forest land for future harvesting, I think the demand side of the equation is a little weak for this to be a “save everything” plan. After all, mills going into mothballs or laying off people is not the sign of healthy demand for their products.

    • Gullyborg

      Jeff,

      The demand is still very high. The reason mills are closing down is that the burdens placed on them by environmental regulations are so great, they can’t compete against foreign companies. Go into Jerry’s or a Home Depot and look at the lumber for sale – they sell a LOT. The building industry uses more and more wood every year. And even in this digital age, paper sales are still incredible. But the wood isn’t coming from Oregon timber anymore. It comes from South America, Africa, Asia, and Canada. And the real irony is, those places are hacking down forests with abandon, causing more global harm to the environment than Oregon logging ever did.

      We need to let our local timber industry work.

  • Jerry

    DMF – I am acutely aware of the effect on communities in Oregon due to the lack of logging. And who do you think is responsible for that lack of logging? It is the left-wing, spotted owl, tree-hugging wackos, that’s who. Now some of those same liberal fools are calling for the trees they love to be cut so they can get money for silly, bloated, government programs that are not needed.
    That is all I was trying to say.

    • Anonymous

      yeah, libraries are such a silly, bloated, government program

      *rolls eyes

      • Steve Plunk

        Apparently Anonymous is unaware of the Jackson county library system that has overbuilt it’s library buildings without funding to operate them. Any student of public policy knows you must consider not only initial capital outlays but also operating costs when determining what to build. The Library failed not only itself but the people of Jackson county.

        Other public agencies are failing us in the same way. Not thinking about long term consequences prefering to spend today and ignore tomorrow. So Jerry is correct, silly, bloated government programs are not needed and are foolish policy.

        • Anonymous

          so all libraries are silly, bloated government programs? and certainly all the facts about the libraries you mentioned aren’t here on the table. two sides to every story. perhaps a sudden cut in funding? an unusually bleak economic situation that called for budget trimming? predicting the economy is quite difficult

          • Steve Plunk

            Anonymous,

            Your attempt to put words int my mouth will not work. The original issue was Jerry’s point about bloated government programs, you brought up libraries and I pointed out that even libraries can be bloated and mismanaged. No one ever said libraries were bad or all libraries have bloated budgets. Your attempt at ceating such a strawman argument is counterproductive to real debate.

            The Jackson county library funding crisis was foreseen by many community leaders. It was not a sudden change but a well known fact that federal timber money was going away. Library advocates downplayed that fact when pushing the construction bond measure. Now we can’t afford to keep open the libraries (15 branch libraries).

          • Anonymous

            he was talking generalities. so i asked if in general libraries are silly bloated government programs. you went on to counter that yes, your county’s libraries are – insinuating that Libraries are in fact bloated government pork. otherwise, you wouldn’t have mentioned it. So why don’t you state publicly here: libraries ARE silly bloated government programs or they ARE NOT. pick one. because we’re talking generalities. otherwise, we could go into your personal finances and find mistakes, sill decisions etc just like one individual library had. BUT IN GENERAL, i’m guessing your pretty decent with finances. right?

          • Steve Plunk

            Generalities will muddy the water in many cases. I prefer to speak in specifics whenever possible. Especially when making accusations such as cases of government inefficiencies.

            The difference between going into my personal finances and finding mistakes and looking at governments finances and finding mistakes is that it’s my money not someone else’s that I may be wasting. When trusted with the taxpayers money government officials have a great responsibility. A responsibility, whether spending money or creating revenue through timber harvest, they are woefully inadequate at fulfilling.

          • Anonymous

            yes, they DO have a big responsibility – just like YOU do. you’re looking out for family, they are looking out for taxpayers. point is, you BOTH make mistakes. YOU both aren’t perfect. until you’re pefect, don’t expect perfection from the government.

            generalities are like stereotypes – they serve a purpose. so still, give an answer on the library question. do you feel they ARE or ARE NOT sillly, bloated government programs? if you dont feelyou can answer in the generalities, perhaps you should carry that same thinking to your criticisms on other governmental programs. such as ODOT. hold your tongue unless you wish to speak to the specific department, unit and program for which you feel there is in appropriate spending. otherwise, your generalities may make the water murky

    • DMF

      I first moved to Oregon in 1970. At that time timber was being cut pretty indescriminately any time congress wanted more money , they cut more timber. The loggers were doing what they were paid to do. The environmental movement has had some good things come from it, but the good can’t compare to the harm that has been done.

      I agree libraires should not be a silly, bloated, government program because if you can read and are intimate with books, the sky is your limit. I firmly believe that. Unfortunately anytime the politicians want to have their way, they start threatening us with the loss. But you are right the government caused many more problems than they cured. Ought to throw them out and start over. 🙂

  • Bob Mulroy

    One has to wonder if, due to the Republican tax-cuts, that money left the county in the first place?

    • Sybella

      Actually the republican tax cuts brought much more money into the coffers. For a change, business flourished and as they did, they paid more taxes, only at a lower rate. Go on the internet and research that fact. Don’t just stop at the democrats or the republicans, they just tell you what they want you to know. Research it.

      • Anonymous

        citations to your claims? show budget numbers before and after the cut. otherwise what you’re claiming is just a nice story

  • eagle eye

    “back to Oregonians”? Those lands never “belonged to Oregonians”. Dream on about getting anywhere with the Democrats running Congress and the courts. You had your chance for 6 years with Bush and the Republicans, you got nowhere. Keep on living in the past and fantasizing about a federal bailout. Pathetic.

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