County Timber Payments Dropped

The U.S. Senate on Thursday cut a provision from an energy bill that would have extended for four years the so-called timber payments to counties, including Lane County and other rural Northwest counties, but lawmakers said they will regroup to seek a new way to pass the funding.

Lawmakers might try to win approval of a one-year extension of the county payments legislation rather than seek a multiyear deal, said Tom Towslee, spokesman for U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat.

To read the rest of this article visit: County Timber Payments


The key word in this article is “might””¦ lawmakers MIGHT try to win approval for the extension. I’m sorry, but “might” just is not good enough for suffering counties. Let’s just put this in perspective shall we? Lane County income just dropped from 16+ million to 3 million over night! This type of legislation suggests Congress is actually waiting for the train to wreck before any relief is provided.

We cannot continue to rely on irresponsible government to protect Oregon counties from financial ruin. Oregon taxpayers have an opportunity to get off of federal welfare and help ourselves by encouraging short-sited lawmakers to restore the local tax base.

O&C Counties should have never lost Timber revenues in the first place. The Northwest Forest Plan, which was implemented by former President Clinton, never delivered on its promise of providing timber and timber receipts for local businesses and communities. Environmental litigation prevented that plan from ever being used after the much-ballyhooed Timber Summit in Portland in the early 1990’s.

The current situation is analogous to going to the Midwest and telling farmers they cannot cut and replant their mature corn fields or use them to provide basic needs for Americans. It’s outrageous to inforce laws which prevent Oregon counties from doing so.

Taxpayers are unable and unwilling to make up the difference in lost timber revenues. After last nights vote to eliminate the payments to counties program in the US Senate, it appears the government is unwilling to help supplement the loss as well.

The time to act is no longer short, the time is NOW. Currently the BLM is asking people to submit their comments by Jan. 9, 2008 regarding the alternative 2 plan which would bring back 94% of the lost Timber revenue do desperate Oregon counties. Isn’t fair to say 94% is a whole lot better then nothing at all?

Take heed and hold on tight Oregon, we’re about to crash and burn!

Posted by at 02:35 | Posted in Measure 37 | 137 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • eagle eye

    I’m afraid the rest of the country just isn’t very sympathetic to the plight of the benighted Oregon timber counties. The welfare is not likely to resume and the timber cut on the bedraggled Oregon federal forests is not likely to be restored. These counties, which have very low county tax rates — I live in one of them and know from my tax bill — are either going to have to pony up the tax money, or do without the country services. Get used to it.

  • David from Eugene

    Measure 47/50 precluded the option of raising property tax rates. These counties (I live in one too) are limited to major cuts or short term operating levies. In the case of Lane County, the bulk of the cuts, around $20 million dollars, will fall on the jail, rural patrols and the DA’s office.

    • Tim

      The Government is holding the state hostage. They own the land, they refuse to open it up, and now they refuse to pay a supplement the income loss.

      What will they think of next?

      • David from Eugene

        In this case it is not the government but rather ecological fanatics who tie up timber sales in court, who are responsible.

    • eagle eye

      I live in Lane County as well. We could raise county property taxes here, we’re not up against the limitation yet. When we are, I’d be in favor of squeezing either the City of Eugene (where I live). I doubt that the property tax limitations are sustainable in the long run — we are going to run into Colorado-style TABOR problems with them — but for the time being, I don’t see them as the problem for Lane County.

      • David from Eugene

        Lane County cannot raise the basic tax rate of $1.275 per $1000 of assessed value. That rate was established and frozen by Measure 47. Lane County can put a short term (5 years or less) operating levy to pay for existing service on the Ballot. If it is a General Election (November in even numbered years) it requires a simple majority to pass, any other election requires a 50% voter turn out as well as a simple majority.

        There is some room under the Measure 5 cap for such a levy.

      • Gienie

        You know Eagle.. you can give freely to the county and use it as a deduction, if you’re in favor of paying taxes for this issue. Why not just write off a check and send it in? Or have you done that already?

        • eagle eye

          Sorry lady, I’m not one of those who think taxes should be voluntary, I don’t regard government as a charity. If you look on it that way, that’s your privilege, but I don’t have much use for it. Maybe you should look for your libertarian paradise, you ain’t gonna find it here.

          If Lane County goes under, I can put up with it, but if we decide we want to continue the county government, and pay for it, the people who don’t like will have to adjust, or leave. I see no reason why people in Lane County should have to pay less than, say, Marion County to run the county government.

          Sometime, soon, people will have to choose. Time will tell.

          • Gienie

            Eagle, my name is Gienie, be polite please! I don’t appreciate being called “lady”!

            For the record, I dont’ think taxes should be “voluntary” either, I don’t think taxes should exists at all.. they’re unconstitutional in my opinion. You don’t know me very well.

            When Lane County goes under, my family and my children’s family will be footing the bill… I don’t know about you, but I’m only 25… and that’s a long time to have to be paying for someone elses mistakes.

            Now I could move… but I would find the same problem somewhere else… big government with pork barrel spending habits, and I would be fighting the similar fight there.

            Are you suggesting to let the money completely dissapear, and then.. we wouldn’t have anymore government…. like pothole Piercy?

            If that’s your stance on it… I can’t argue with that… I’m more inclined to agree with you from that perspective.

            The problem with Eugene.. where you live, is that your leadership refuses to let the private sector come in and develop. So critical services such as “public safety” are the first programs to be affected by the cuts.

            Thank goodness I don’t live in Eugene!

          • eagle eye

            Sorry, I thought I was being polite, we haven’t been properly introduced.

            So, you don’t believe in taxes, that they’re even unconstitutional, well that’s OK, the constitution must say so. Just don’t ask for more handouts from the federal government for the counties here.

            Do I want the county government to just disappear? No, I’m willing to pay more taxes for it. But if the strange types who inhabit these rural counties want it that way, it probably won’t ruin my life. I will adjust.

            Maybe you’ll find your libertarian taxless paradise someplace, sometime. Maybe in the next life or on another planet.

            Your last sentence is OK — it’s probably better for all concerned.

          • Gienie

            Eagle,

            What?

          • eagle eye

            Both you and Eugene are probably better off being apart is what I meant. Not a good match.

          • Gienie

            What?

  • Gienie

    I dissagree with you eagle… as long as there is a plan out there for restoration.. I will do what I can to fight for it.

    Quiting is not the answer for me… if it squeaks.. it gets the oil… and I would rather do my best attempting that than to give it up and get used to our current situation.

    I’m not willing to pay a higher tax. Particularly this type of tax when I know my state has a renewable resource and can sustain itself with out welfare. That’s the problem with these Dems… sure they’re compassionate.. but with everyone else’s money!

    I refuse to stand back and allow lawmakers to force my 79 year old neighbor to pay a tax increase on her fixed income.

    I’m saddened you are!

    • eagle eye

      Sorry to tell you, I’m not an enthusiast for more cutting. I’m willing to pay higher county taxes. In my county, they’re low, a lot lower than in the non-timber counties. Your neighbor can’t pay higher taxes? Let her get a reverse mortgage if she owns that much property.

      We obviously disagree on a lot. I’m not trying to convince you about the timber, except I do think the timber payments are a lost cause. If not this year, then next.

      • CRAWDUDE

        Yes, I also think the timber payments are going to be stopped sometime soon in the future. Oregon just doesn’t have the political strength that other states do when it comes to subsidies.

      • Let’s use our renewable resources

        Great article re a very timely topic. The issue isn’t why can’t we increase our other taxes but why can’t we use our existing tax base of renewable forests? Maybe it’s time to legalize old growth marijuana and tax the heck out of that for county services. It’s time the old growth hippies pay their fare share for their illegal use of public lands.

  • Sid Leiken

    David from Lane County nails it exactly on why Oregon counites cannot raise property taxes. It is called measures 47/50.

    Eagle, please explain why you would not support more harvesting and do not use the old growth argument. There are only a couple of old growth mills in operation in Lane County so most of the timber being harvested are trees that have been replanted, second growth. As Gienie stated this is a renewable resource that has been a great source for funding public safety, our schools, road funds for the cities to build infrastructure to create more jobs. When cities begin increasing SDC’s because Lane County no longer has road fund money to share, think about what a renewable resource could have done to offset that.

  • rural resident

    There is a sensible reason for continuing county timber payments money under the “Secure Rural Schools” Act (the name is a misnomer, which I’ll address shortly). When the land was taken over by the federal government, they agreed to share revenues from timber. The unspoken assumption there was that there would continue to BE a reasonable level of timber harvest. In effect, the payments are for “environmental protection” in the form of regulations prohibiting timber harvest. Environmental protection is a public good, and should be paid for like any other public good — though appropriations of federal/state tax money.

    However, one of the problems with the “Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act” (PL 106-393) is that our delegation sold the original program to those from other states primarily as “educational assistance to rural schools in timber-dependent communities.” Unfortunately, Oregon and Washington (except for Skamania County, WA) have seized the 25% of the money intended for rural schools and sent most of it to school districts that are neither rural nor timber-dependent. Most of the “Secure Rural Schools” funds in Oregon end up benefiting students in the Portland metro, Salem, and Eugene/Springfield areas — places with Oregon’s highest household incomes and most stable (and non-timber based at any point in recent times) economies. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been lost by rural school districts. The word has spread in Congress about this practice, and those from other states, who might, under other circumstances, be more sympathetic, are beginning to figure out that the program is, to some degree, a fraud.

    For that matter, my discussions with congressional staffers from other states lead me to believe that those voting on the original law generally intended the other 75% of the money to go to rural, timber-dependent communities to both replace lost economic development opportunities arising from a functioning timber industry and as transition assistance to new industries. Instead, in Lane County (which, along with Douglas County, receives around $50 million a year, far more than any other county), little of the money is spent outside of Eugene and Springfield.

    Rep. Greg Walden has advocated for spending at least the school funds as originally intended by the Congress. It is easy to correct the problem during the extension/reauthorization process. However, the legislators will have to buck the howls of protest that emanate from big Portland and Willamette Valley school districts and the taxpayers in these areas. Walden hasn’t had much help from the rest of the Oregon delegation, which is driving the bus on this issue. Other members of the delegation haven’t been willing to alter the status quo.

    Unless they (or the Portland-run Oregon Legislature) is willing to redirect the monies as Congress intended, small, rural school districts will continue to go through a vicious cycle of losing students and state funding — and quite unnecessarily.

    • dean

      RR…I’m not familiar with the details of the Act you cite, but isn’t the counter argument that Oregon has state equalization of school funding, so Portland and other cities are subsidizing rural schools with low property tax bases already? Perhaps they see the Federal money as partly making up for that. Also, didn’t Portlanders raise their own taxes to help support their schools, in part to make up for the equalization issue?

      For all those who say lets just go back to the good old days of logging the heck out of national forests, you have a problem and it is bigger than “environmentalists.” These forests don’t belong to Oregon or Oregonians. They belong to the people of the United States, ALL of them. And they have to be managed within ALL the laws that apply, including the clean water act, the national forest management act, the endangered species act, and the national environmental policy act to name just a few.

      To blame Clinton for the logging cutbacks is short-sighted. The die was cast before he came into office. Over 400 species are wholly or partly dependent on older, unmolested forests. And the thousands of miles of logging roads constructed over decades were sliding into streams and damaging our drinking water.

      The BLM, whatever plan they adopt, are still going to be subject to all applicable laws. Not to mention, the entire timber industry of the NW can’t compete with Canada, New Zealand, and Chile, even on the more highly productive low elevation forests. The higher elevation federal forests are less productive. If we actually accounted for ALL the costs of federal land logging there would be little or nothing left for the counties.

      • Gienie

        No one is suggesting that the BLM refuse to follow the other rules that have been put in place. They should follow the other protections with watershed and species protection. You and I have talked about this before.

        The Northwest Forest plan attempted to do that, but it never brought in the amount of harvest that it promised. And that’s why the BLM is proposing a new plan. Knowing the environmentalist movement… they’ll be filing lawsuites left and right to get this plan in the gutter too.

        Have you read the BLMs alternative 2 plan? There are restrictions to the amount of cutting that is allowed, and those amounts are quit less than what we import. Therefore, northwest harvest shouldn’t be compared to places like New Zealand and so forth… that’s like comparing apples to oranges.

        You’re right about the different types of fires that burn on the other side of the mountain… but that’s because the climate is so different.
        We live in what’s known as the “fog belt” where are land is moist and the air is moist. The fires we have hear do not burn nearly as hot as they do on the east side of the state.

        And while we’re on the subject.. Canada.. and their forests are struggling big time with insect infestation. The notorious Mountain Pine Beetle is reaping havoc across British Columbia and its spreading rapidly. Its spreading because of the lack of proper forest management, and we’re already starting to see is spread here in the US on the boarders of WA State and Idaho.

        If we don’t start properly managing our forests now, they’re going to die and everything in them will die off too.

        • dean

          Genie,
          I hope you and the new baby are well. The NW Forest Plan did not “promise” anything. It “predicted” a certain sustainable level of harvest, and for various reasons has fallen short.

          The BLM’s new plan was not initiated because the NW Forest Plan failed. It was initiated because (as I recall it) the timber industry sued the Feds over the lumping of BLM land with national forest land into one management program. The BLM land came into federal ownership as a result of land fraud perpetrated by the O&C Railroad. When the feds took these lands back from O&C, the enabling law put them in a different category than other BLM lands or the national forests. Rather than fight in court on an issue they did not believe in anyway (conservation), the Bush administration agreed to pull the BLM lands out of the NW Forest Plan. Hence we are where we are.

          I have not read alternative 2. I brought up the import issue as an ECONOMIC point, that even our private timber lands are having trouble competing and they are more productive. I’m saying don’t expect much in the way of new revenue is all.

          Our west side fires do burn just as hot as those on the east side, hotter in fact. They just burn far less frequently.

          Canada’s problem with forest health is not because they are not “managing” them Genie. They cut their forests heavily. But they have so much forest, and a lot of it in the remote, roadless north, that they have not yet got around to loggin ALL of it. And northern conifer forests are short-lived and subject to large, stand replacement fires.

          A great reference for you is: Towards Sustainable Management of the Boreal Forest by Brown et al, NRC Research Canada.

          Have a great holiday.

          • Gienie

            Hi Dean,

            Noah is doing well thanks! He’s already 7 weeks old.. can you believe it? He’s soooo much fun! Thanks for asking. How is your family?

            Just to touch on your post..

            You’re not completely correct. I may not be completely correct on my arguments as well, but I’ve had the privilage of listening to several professional foresters (who work for the forest service like you use to do).. John Prendergast for example as well as others talk about the mismanagment of the forests from here up to Canada… He had personal experience with it, and from the pictures I viewed from his camera… I fully believe him.

            Our forests are in a world of trouble and are locked up because of litigation. The Northwest Forest plan did promise a certain return on harvest, and it didn’t happen because of leftist environmental groups taking those issues to court… this is where the term “locked up” derives from… any production the Northwest forest plan was supposed to bring forth didn’t happen because the land was locked up due to rediculous law suites.

            Ginnie Grilley (District Manager for the BLM) stated live on the radio back in September that the reason the BLM was proposing the alternative solutions was because the Northwest Forest plan did not deliver on the projected harvest amounts. If you would like to hear it from the horses mouth… call up KPNW (the radio station that aired the town hall) and ask them for a taped copy of the meeting. Better yet.. I have my own recording, and I would be happy to send it directly to your email.

            If you’re suggesting there is another motive behind their alternatives.. I cannot argue with that as I’m sure there is.. ( you know how I love to question authority ) but… what they have publically announced as the reason for the projected alternatives, seems valid to me as their suggested reason happens to be very true.

            Merry Christmas to you too Dean!

          • dean

            Geinie…my son Simon just arrived in town last night, on break from the University of Montana. He is in the forestry program, but is also a pretty hardcore environmentalist and vegetarian. Go figure.

            Many ex-forest service friends agree with Predengrast. I’m not saying they are wrong, but I will say “old school” foresters are as a rule very anti-wilderness and tend to think any forest not logged is wasted. Its a point of view I don’t happen to agree with.

            Ginnie Grilley is a former colleague. Tell her hello if you see her. I’m sure the official line is what Ginnie said on the radio. I just don’t believe that official line is the truth.

            I have a copy of the NW Forest Plan on my lap. On page VI-5 there is a chart that shows PROBABLE annual average timber sales for each option. The range is a low of 177 million board feet, and a high of 1.6 billion board feet. Option 9 was the one selected, and had a PREDICTED sale level of a bit under 1.1 billion board feet. The authors are very clear that this is a prediction, not a promise. It may be that Clinton or other political leaders made such a “Promise.”

            By the way, the western Oregon BLM forests were estimated to procude 260 million BF under option 9. And I was mistaken in an earlier post. BLM does have some forests in eastern oregon, but apparently not much since they predicted only 6 million board feet.

            The average 1980-89 harvest from all federal forests in the spotted owl range was 4.5 billion board feet, and this had already dropped to 2.3 billion before the NW Forest Plan was adopted.

            My take on the failure of the NW Forest Plan to meet the predicted timber sale level is that the “survey and mange” provision was more complex and costly than had been thought, AND the field work kept turning up more sensitive species that prevented many sales. On some forests, like the Siuslaw, there have been ZERO law suits and the forest has exceeded its timber harvest predictions every year. Why? Because the forest leadership made and kept a commitment to thinning 2nd growth forests, repairing or closing roads, and staying out of remaining old growth. That forest has won international awards recently by the way, and environmentalists are cheering them on.

            Give Noah a hug from an old liberal.

          • Gienie

            No Lawsuites Dean???

            What about

            April 26th, 2005 when US Forest Service employees filed a law suite against logging practices in Oregon?

            Or

            March 29th, 2003

            Suite filed against Weyerhouser for logging on their own private land… look it up in the Portland Federal Court archeives.

            Or

            December 2nd 1988

            Oregon Natural Resource Council Vs. Mahla

            Or

            June 30th, 1999

            NFC Files Lawsuit Against USFS & BLM to Stop Logging in PNW

            You can read about this here

            https://www.homedepotsucks.com/news/nfclawsuit.cfm

            Litigation has kept public lands locked up and those are the facts!

          • dean

            Gienie,

            Lets make sure we are talking about the same thing before we pick an argument, even though we both are quick to do that.

            I did not say there have been no law suits. I said on SOME FORESTS SUCH AS THE SIUSLAW there have been no lawsuits, and that logging levels have met or exceeded the NW Forest Plan predictions.

            I was referring specifically to the NW Forest Plan, not to lawsuits that pre-dated that plan, such as those you cite.

            And I was not talking about suits against PRIVATE landowners or the State. Weyerhouser, a private landowner, has not been sued for “logging its own private land.” If memory serves, they were sued for either violating the clean water act, the endangered species act or both.

            You could say “litigation has “locked up” lands from logging, or you could say that foresters (public and private) have had a difficult time finding ways to log economically while also conserving water, habitat, and other resources that are protected by law, and thus have gotten themselves sued. I perfer the latter interpretation. And by the way, if environmentalists who sue are wrong, why do they usually win?

            Someday we should debate the alternatives to saving or logging everything. There are a lot of good options that reasonable people can agree on. And I hope you are going to buy my new book on that subject: Designing Sustainable Forest Landscapes. Taylor & Francis Press.

          • Gienie

            Hi Dean,

            There were too Lawsuites filed in the Siuslaw, particularly in the early 90’s with the outcry of saving the spotted owl.

            I don’t remember the cases specifically and am not in a position currently to go searching for those documents, but there were several papers which printed the stories.. particularly here in Lane County regarding the NFC (Native forest Council) and the suits they filed. I’ll do some more research on that, and give you the references when I have them.

            My main point however is there were in fact lawsuites regarding land and logging in the Siuslaw Forest.

            And after all the arguments you and I have.. we can now agree on two things (Our families love us.. as pointed out several weeks ago HAHA) and too.. rural communities are in a world of hurt!

            My question is .. if Oregonians are not in favor of cutting trees and not in favor of raising taxes to cover the lost income…excluding Eagle Eye of course since he has stated very clearly he’s in favor of higher taxes….What are we going to do?

          • dean

            Gienie,

            When you find time for that research, I’ll bet you a pint that the Siuslaw lawsuits you are thinking of were prior to the NW Forest Plan (1994) or they were unsuccessful. The Siuslaw was indeed sued in the 80s for building roads across landslide prone terrain, and many of these roads tumbled down creeks and rivers in the 80s, hence the suits. The forest leadership “got religion” when a Fisheries biologist was appointed as its man in charge. He made the commitment to ecology, the forest did proactive work to remove undersized culverts, and when the 1996 rainstorms and floods hit the Siuslaw National Forest was in great shape, unlike my own Forest (Mt Hood). It is a government success story most people are not aware of, made possible by good leadership and very hard working, smart, dedicated employees.

            The federal payments in lieu of timber revenue are clearly not politically sustainable. And rural county residents do not appear either willing or able to raise their local taxes to make up the difference. So what to do?

            Well…we could go the “small government is better” route and just cut everything back; libraries, schools, police, road maintenance, bridge inspections, emergency response, wildland firefighting, etc. That would put small government to the test don’t you think?

            We could have the rest of the state bail out the timber counties, but that seems unlikely. We could repeal the federal clean water act, endangered species act, and any other act that has gotten in the way of multi-billion board foot timber harvests, but since your party was unable to accomplish that feat after 12 years in control of Congress and 7 with the White House, I don’t see much chance of that do you?

            Over time, if peace can endure between the various parties, my sense is that federal logging levels will gradually go back up. I base that on “futuring” studies we did at Mt Hood Forest. Most of the federal logging was between 1950 and 1990 and covered 1/3 to 1/2 of the land area. The replanted forests are just now reaching commercial size. They tend to be over crowded, and the roads are already in place, so a progressive thinning regime (taking about 20% of the trees every few decades), like what the Siuslaw Forest has begun, will be increasingly productive.

            My policy approach would be to “wean” the counties off of the Federal bottle by providing less money each year for 5-10 years. Gradually timber revenues will rise a bit, and the Counties will have the opportunity to phase in raising local tax rates to those comparable in non-timber counties. That is what we should have been doing the past 10 years, and unfortunately we may not get a 2nd chance now thanks again to your party fillibustering the recent energy bill.

            I don’t agree that Oregonians are not in favor of cutting trees or raising taxes. I think there is a working consensus for cutting trees responsibly in the right areas, which means staying out of remaining old growth, roadless, and wilderness areas, and limiting logging in riparian areas. There is no consensus to raise taxes, but working majorities can be assembled locally, particulalry if your side eases up on the anti-tax rhetoric.

          • Anonymous

            You might be right, which is why we won’t let up on the anti-tax rhetoric. We don’t want more taxes at any level.

          • Gienie

            Good Afternoon Dean,

            There were lawsuites filed in 1988, 1991, 1996 and one that is still in appeal filed in 1997… all of these were filed by the NFC. It doesn’t matter if their lawsuits were successful or not.. while any lawsuit pending… land is locked up. All activity has to cease while the matter is debated in court.

            I agree with you whole heartedly about weaning counties off of welfare—even a blind squirrel gets a nut every once in a while. 😉

            I’m soooo not in favor of SRS or the 4 year extension that was placed in the Energy Bill… yes by my representative. I’m not in favor of the Government owning the Land either.

            I think they should sell it back to the private sector… as it was before… no strings attached and let us handle it in a responsible way. Do I believe this is reality??? NO! Which is unfortunate… so what do we do? So far… I see only the BLM’s Alternative 2 for right now… Unless someone else comes up with something better.

            I do not deny that before regulations… logging was mishandled. I think that restrictions were necessary to protect other critical needs… afterall.. the water, and the trees.. have a symbiotic relationship…. they need each other to be healthy. It makes sense to enforce watershed protection… etc etc….

            As far as your bet is concerned…. I’m a nursing mother.. can I get a raincheck in lets say…. 6 months or so???

          • dean

            G…no payment on that bet unless you can show me 2 things. First, that the NFC lawsuit was against the SIUSLAW NATIONAL FOREST, not just any old forest. Second, that they either won or were successful in delaying projects.

            In lieu of the beer, I could send you a signed copy of my restoring the pacific nw book.

            You do know that you just stated your support for regulations on the timber industry. I’m going to remember that my dear….

          • Gienie

            I’ve stated before that I’m in favor of healthy forest management.. that’s not secret… all you need to do is look up all the other articles I’ve posted on the matter to see that.

            I’m opposed to overdoing it though.. which is what I think has happened with the environmental groups! Its like with children… children will always push the limit until you set a boundary… they will do everything in their power to push that boundary until you give in…. once you give a little, you end up giving a lot.

            Regarding your book… Congratulations! I thought about writing a book once… don’t know if I every will! I would be interested in reading what you have to say… is it as light and witty as your posts?

          • dean

            G…earn a few gray hairs first before you take a book on. But if you ever get around to it, I’m sure you would come up with something interesting. How about “A Conservative’s View of Conservation?”

            My books are not so light and fluffy. But they are readable and have cool pictures.

            Don’t think of “environmentalists” as children Geinie. These are adults like yourself, well educated, mostly thoughtful people, many scientists among them. Yes there are some who are immature and rely on theatrics, but that is a fringe.

            The lawsuit era was unfortunately necessary to derail the clearcut everywhere train.

            Long term, the future of our forests, public and private, will be determined by adults of varying views sitting down together and working out mutually acceptable management. That is already happening in some areas, like the Applegate Watershed and on the Siuslaw Forest. We ought to be copying those efforts, not re-opening old wounds.

      • rural resident

        Dean …. First, I didn’t blame Clinton. I think he honestly tried to find a solution. It just didn’t work. Not his fault. But, the fact remains that when the feds took over the land, the made promises to the counties in exchange for them. That sounds like a contract to me. The last I looked, one side couldn’t unilaterally change the terms of a contract.

        Second, again let me point out that there is no subsidy. I know folks living around Portland love to think that they’re Big Daddy paying the bills for everyone else. Your point about their thinking that they have a right to the Secure Rural Schools funds because they perceive there to be such a subsidy is no doubt correct. However, even if there WERE a subsidy, their hijacking funds that were CLEARLY intended by Congress for small rural school districts would be wrong. It’s doubly wrong since no such subsidy exists. (If you want to know more, read my second and third posts on Blue Oregon, “Deal Reached to Extend Timber Payments.” The original post was on 12/5/07. The discussion carried on for a couple of days.)

        The best case your side can make is that the three Portland metro counties are subsidizing Marion County. It’s interesting to read posts by people talking about people “paying their way when there are huge discrepancies among districts in the percentage of the school districts’ operating budgets paid through local property taxes. Taxpayers on the Oregon Coast, as a whole, pay the highest percentage (around 33%); those on the North Coast are really hit hard — they pay over 40%. In contrast, taxpayers in the Portland metro area pay less than 29 percent of their districts’ operating budgets. Some are much lower, including David Douglas (13%), Centennial (15%), and Reynolds (19%).

        Then there’s the king of the hill as far as feeding at the state school funding trough: Salem-Keizer. Their property taxpayers pay a little over 16%, and the district is the single largest recipient of equalization funds — to the tune of almost a quarter of a billion dollars a year. Contrast this with the Seaside School District, which gets no state school support at all. Their taxpayers pony up more than 83 percent of their district’s budget. Yet, they passed a local option levy because their per-student funding is so low. (Incidentally, you can’t claim the subsidy argument while discussing local option funding. The money all stays in the local district. It doesn’t get sucked into the general fund for redistribution through the equalization system.)

        Third, you’re making a fundamental error when you contend that, because we have “equalization,” that districts around the state are getting equal amounts of funding per student. The school funding formula is complex and, at times, whimsical. However, it is anything but equal. You mentioned Portlanders raising their own taxes (they used a county income tax) to make up for the effects of equalization. They didn’t need to do it for that reason. Portland is by far the best-funded “big” school district in the state. Even without the extra county tax, Portland SD has almost $2,000 more per student to work with than does the average district in the Portland metro area and over $3,000 more per student than many rural districts. And that doesn’t include the money from local school foundations with millions of dollars or corporate largesse — both of which are pretty much unavailable to rural districts.

        It was exactly some of these kinds of discrepancies that the Secure Rural Schools funds were intended to address. The state “equalization” system favors districts with growing student populations, and penalizes districts whose student numbers are declining. If the SRS funds had been spent as intended, many of the rural districts in these timber-dependent communities would have had a better chance to maintain programs. This is another aspect of the interplay between land use regulation and education in Oregon that invites investigation. But that’s a discussion for another day.

        • dean

          RR…thanks for the details.

          I would still say we ain’t going back to the federal timber gravy train, for all the reasons I mentioned. So looks like tough times are ahead for some rural counties.

          • Oregonian for multiple use

            Hey Gienie and co. how come no one talks about the cost to taxpayers of the Greens both inside and outside govt. agencies who worked to remove existing roads into public lands. This made it more difficult for Americans to actually use their public lands even for recreational use. So what is that about? Why are the Greens so opposed to Americans using their public lands for multiple use? Sounds a bit paternalistc and Orwellian.

          • Gienie

            Well…

            I know that groups worked hard to close those roads because of the threat of landslides due to “mass cutting”. Although I’m not sure all the roads that were closed were subject to such…

            I personally do not know how much that situation alone cost taxpayers… do you? I’m curious to know.

  • Anonymous

    When I first moved to Oregon in the early 70’s my county was a thriving county, I live in eastern Oregon. We had 5 operating mills that hired a lot of people. There were changes needing to be done, such as clear cutting in the absence of disease. Those changes could have been made fairly easily. Instead it was decided to cut off the hand to save the finger. We were not burning up thousands of acres of timber which included old growth that everybody is so fond of saving. Now we have two mills left operating one shift and one of those will probably close down in the near future. Our children only go to school four days a week because the money isn’t there to keep the schools open. Every year gets worse. I haven’t any problem with caring for the environment, but we aren’t caring for the forests, we are neglecting them.

    dean, I’m not going to argue with you either, I believe what I believe and your liberal arguments just make me angry while I watch our county die

    • dean

      Anon…the BLM forests that Genie posted on are west of the Cascade mountains, a lot in the coast range. These are not the types of forests that are prone to overcrowding and burning. Southern Oregon, where the BLM also has forests, is prone to overcrowding and “unnatural” fuel buildup. BLM does not have forest land in Eastern Oregon to my knowledge.

      On Mt Hood National Forest, where I worked for 11 years, we did have big forest health problems on the east side of the Cascades. These were caused by a combination of 2 things. “High grade” logging, meaning the biggest and biggest and most fire resistant pine, Doug fir, and larch were cut, leaving the smaller and less valuable grand and Doug fir behind. And fire supression, which allowed a gradual buildup of litter and ground fuels. Clearcutting, an alternative to high grading, was also bad for our dryland forests because there were problems with regeneration and subsequent overcrowding once plantings took hold (often after the 5th or 6th attempt, at great expense to taxpayers).

      Forest managers and most environmentalists are now aware of the eastern and southern oregon issues, and most back increased thinning with gradual reintroduction of prescribed fire. The Nature Conservancy is taking a leading role in this. The big challenge is that what needs to be removed is small diameter, low value wood, with remaining big, fire resistant trees left behind. At best this is a small net gain or break even proposition, which was the point I was trying to make earlier. It won’t generate the revenues for the Counties that they became dependent on.

      You don’t have any problem with caring for the environment, and I don’t have any problem with logging that is done responsibly and in the right locations.

  • Jerry

    But I thought the left was all about saving the trees. Now they want to cut them to get money?????????
    How crass. How cruel. How stupid.
    Save the timberland. No more cutting for money.
    Keep the areas roadless and unlogged.
    What is wrong with you greedy people. Can’t you see that saving the forest is more important than wasting a bunch of “free” money you get from raping the land?
    I am very disappointed in these money-hungry Oregonians who think the forest should pay for their utopian, left-wing nonsense.
    Think Green…not Greenback.

    • taxpayers for multiple use

      Does Jerry pay taxes? Does he not recognize how locking up these federal lands for non-use will cost all Oregon taxpayers big bucks to make up the difference for that lost tax base? It’s not the 60s or flower power anymore. Time to grow up and face reality.

      • Jerry

        Of course I pay taxes…a lot of them…I just don’t want to see greedy left-wingers profit at the expense of our sacred forests.
        Plain and simple.
        Or should I say simpleton?
        Find your money somewhere else or cut your spending, but leave our trees alone!!!!
        Finally someone, somewhere, has done something right by stopping these funds.
        I am truly grateful.

        • trees grow back dept.

          To the folks who have blogged on opposing logging, and especially those who worked in the Forest Service, why don’t they get the part that trees are a renewable resource? Trees grow back, guys. We have laws like the Oregon Forest Practices Act that require replanting after harvesting. What is sad is that all the tree hugging that’s going on has caused catastrophic fires and dead forests in our state. Not much to be proud of guys. So much for forest health. Think about it. Trees grow back.

          • dean

            No one is saying trees don’t grow back. That doesn’t mean every forest everywhere should be open to logging. And “tree hugging” has had nothing at all to do with fires.

          • Tim

            “tree hugging” metaphorically speaking Dean. “tree hugging” as in the love for the tress has blinded people from seeing reality.

  • Jerry

    I am just saying SAVE the FOREST no matter what the cost.
    That is all.

  • Jerry

    I rest my case:

    Two landslides on clear-cuts logged by Oregon State University’s College of Forestry set into motion last week’s torrent of mud and debris that inundated homes and U.S. 30 west of Clatskanie.

    The slides from the 2,440-acre tract owned and managed by the College of Forestry were the first steps in a dominolike chain of events that sent thousands of truckloads’ worth of mud and debris roaring downhill. Nobody was injured, but buildings and vehicles were heavily damaged, and one person reportedly escaped from a home by crawling through mud and out a window.

    The collapses on OSU’s land put the state’s top forestry institution face-to-face with longstanding long-standing concerns that logging can increase the risk of landslides, especially on steep slopes.

    • Gienie

      Those clear cuts were done before proper forest management restrictions were ever put in place.

      No one is suggesting that we clear cut the land again as was done incorrectly in the past.. In fact, I hear more and more that trees are charted and are selected specifically to protect against such catastrophic events.

      Landslides would occur with or with out trees in the way. Trees just help break the fall in some cases.. But who can control nature?? You?

      I could just as easily throw the argument in another direction suggesting older trees provide a huge threat and should be thinned out.

      Here in Lane County several “old” trees fell on peoples homes causing thousands of dollars of damage and personal injury because the ground was so drenched… if we had thinned those trees out knowning they were not sturdy.. we wouldn’t have had a problem… blah blah blah

      the arguments go both ways Jerry…

    • mother nature prevails again

      Jerry, Jerry, Jerry. As Roseanne Rosanna Danna says, it’s always something. If Mother Nature doesn’t decide that Mt. St. Helens should erupt then she blasts us with winter storms. Get over it. Trees grew back on Mt. St. Helens and even better on the side that humans replanted. You can’t save a tree from maturing and dying. Trees are living things. They are crops. They aren’t mystical creatures out of Lord of The Rings or something. Dude, you need a life.

      • dean

        On federal forest road closures, the issue was that funding cuts due to timber harvest reductions due to endangered species listings and clean water act violations due to road building and timber harvest in the first place….whew….left the forest service with little choice other than to close many roads. They simply could not maintain them, and as these roads deteriorate, culverts get plugged up, and dangerous situations develop without maintenance. There is still plenty of public access to national forest. You just have to get off you butt and walk a ways.

        On landslides and logging. Some landslides are not related to logging and some are related to logging, logging roads, or both. Deep seated landslides happen below the rooting zone of the trees, so clearcut or not, a deep slide happens when nature decides. But shallower slides, particularly on steep, upper drainages in the coast
        range, sometimes happen due to the loss of root strength a few years after an area is logged, or due to badly built roads that oversteepen the fill slope.

        Gienie…our forest practices code is completely insufficient to prevent private land owners (or even public forest agencies) from logging in high risk slide areas. Even in Washington, which has a much stricter code than Oregon’s companies clearcut unstable areas, as profiled in the Oregonian today in the case of a Weyerhaueser clearcut.

        Yes, trees grow back. Streams eventually clean themselves of the mud and debris. Wildlife evolve to live in habitat challenged plantations or die out. Trees are crops. But are the ONLY CROPS? That’s it? What were they before we decided they were “crops?” Chopped liver? I would call that a sadly narrow minded world view.

      • Jerry

        I have a life, thank you very much, and that life is dedicated to saving our forests – one tree at a time – and if that means the counties go without, so be it.

        Dean below supports me if you read his post.

        Anyone with half a brain would support me, as the forests are mighty and great and provide us with much needed removal of CO2 from the air. To cut these majestic sentinels of security and safety just so some idiot county commissioner can name a swimming pool after himself is just plain wrong.

        The counties can get their money somewhere else.

        We need a healthy forest to survive as a species.
        Cutting them down does not make them healthy.
        And if you really believe in selective harvesting you have not been in the forest. That is code for cutting all the biggest, healthiest trees nearest the roads for easy removal. What is left is a joke…plain and simple. And that is a fact!~!

        Get out more – explore the forests if you dare – you will see what I am saying and you will know it is right.

        • dean

          Jerry…I can’t tell if you are being serious or not.

          If you are serious, no, my post does not support your position. I’m not against cutting trees. I am for cutting them responsibly, and only in the right locations. Steep stream headwalls, like those that failed in the OSU example, are places that should not be logged, or at least should not be clearcut logged.

          Old style selective harvesting was as you describe it, taking the biggest and best trees and leaving the junk behind. Modern selective logging, especially in our eastern and southern Oregon driy pine forests, is the opposite.

          Moderation is the ticket Jerry.

        • Gienie

          Jerry,

          Younger Trees take care of the “CO2” problem better than older tress do???

          I would be inclined to say Dean and I agree more on this than he and you do.. we’re for appropriate cutting measures… you don’t want to cut anything…

  • Jerry

    Well, maybe some cutting, but not for the ONC monies. For the health of the forest only.

    I say cut the dead trees, for example, but no one seems to want to do that.

    I also think many on the left have sold out their beliefs in forest preservation for money they want for dubious programs.

    I am not sure I trust the “new” selective cuts to be any better than the old, which Dean admits were wrong.

    The counties getting this money waste so much of it that this program should die – and die it seems to be doing – so this is good news all around.

    • Gienie

      Jerry,

      Lets be realistic here. The counties are going to waste money no matter where it comes from. That’s an entirely different issue. I could write a book on Lane County Alone wasting money…

      If you’re concerned about that, you should look into changing the laws that restrict/enforce certain spending habbits, you should also looking into replacing your County Commissioners for ones that know what they’re doing.

      • dean

        Jerry..dead trees are an important part of a healty forest. They provide habitat for dozens of birds that eat bugs that eat trees.

        Too many dead trees in a given area can create problems, like bark beetle outbreaks that infest healthy trees.

        I haven’t seen anyone on the environmental left arguing we need to cut more trees for more tax money, though some do say we should thin some forests for ecological reasons.

        • Gienie

          We should thin either way. its better for everyone

        • Jerry

          I understand this. But wacked out libs are the ones who always try to stop salvage logging after a fire, where there are way, way too many dead trees.
          But, if money is short for stupid government programs the libs seem to say, fire up the chain saws. We need our cultural trust money.
          What utter nonsense.
          The money is going away and thankfully there is nothing the libs can do about it.
          Great news!

  • Jerry

    Libs are the ones who want more monies for the counties. I am saying that I am glad the monies are drying up. That is all.
    And, I am also saying that libs are a bit two-faced when they want the timber money but then say they want to preserve the forests.
    You can’t have it both ways.
    This is fun to watch!!

    • Gienie

      Jerry,

      I am a registered Republican in Lane County. I serve the Lane County Republican Party and I in NO WAY consider myself to be liberal… yet I would like more money for our struggling county.

      I do not believe Federal Welfare is the way to get it though… therefore I dissagree with SRS and the 4 year extension (which was written by a conserative Republican) that was placed in the energy bill.

      I do believe when the feds seized up the land and took it back from the O&C railroad blah blah… they made a contract with those counties to provide for lost revenue. I do not believe that was a perminant solution however… and we shouldn’t be relying on it as such.

      I think the Feds should sell the land back to the private industry… as I’ve stated before… will it happen… no way!

      Several counties have tried to pass higher taxes to increase the income… have those taxes passed… no!

      Will logging every be reinstated on public land… doubtful!

      As I’ve stated all along.. counties are in a world of hurt… mostly because nobody is willing to bend and compromise!

      The BLM’s alternative 2 plan is the ONLY solution out there that would help break the fall. I hope you’re willing to see that, and submit a comment before the deadline period closes.

      • Jerry

        I agree that the feds should sell the land to private interests. YES on that one!!
        No on anything else.
        And the money the feds get for the land should go to the counties as a one time repayment for the stolen lands.

        • dean

          Jerry…who were the federal lands “stolen” from?

          • Jerry

            Us. The peoples of Oregon.

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