Trask River, Oregon© Bryan Huskey

In the Media: Serious Doubts About Oregon Forest Protections

In the Media: Serious Doubts About Oregon Forest Protections

In a new story from Oregon Public Broadcasting, state board of forestry members and WSC’s policy director point to problems in how the state polices forest practices.

The state has spent five years and close to a million dollars to find out how many people and companies follow state logging rules — and came away with an answer that’s now being called essentially worthless. That, according to a story today from Oregon Public Broadcasting. Oregon has the weakest forestry protections on the West Coast, and federal regulators have called on the state to improve protections to help Oregon salmon runs and water quality.

In the story, Board of Forestry member Cindy Deacon Williams had harsh words for the analysis, by the Oregon Department of Forestry:

“It’s just ridiculous,” Williams said. She first expressed her concerns about the numbers before ODF cited them in legislative testimony. She now says she’d like to see the monitoring redone and the record corrected.

“You can’t legislate or guide policy in a vacuum of ignorance,” she said. “We simply don’t have the information that we need in order to know whether our policies are responsible and are achieving our aims.”

Another board member suggested deep doubts about the compliance rate on forest laws.

“We don’t know if it’s 98, 99 or 50,” said Brenda McComb, a retired Oregon State University professor who serves on the board.

Wild Salmon Center’s Oregon and California Policy Director, Bob Van Dyk, said the analysis indicates a broader problem: the Department of Forestry is captured by the forest industry, which is leading to poor regulation.

“This audit shows that the agency that’s charged with protecting our forest waters is too close to the timber industry that they regulate,” Van Dyk said. “And that we can’t be confident in the quality of the laws, nor in their implementation.”

Read the full story here. 

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