David Yamamoto

The State of Oregon is changing the way it manages state forests – and the outlook doesn’t look good. In recent decades, the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) has increasingly prioritized habitat creation over sustainable timber harvests. This has taken a toll on local governments, rural schools, and public services, and put a financial strain on the department of forestry itself. Despite its obligation to manage these lands for the counties in balance with social and economic needs, ODF is now advancing a 70-year Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) for state forests that is focused on just one aspect of sustainability—conservation.  

Over half of the forestland in Tillamook County is state forestland managed by ODF. When timber harvest takes place on state forestland, our local family-owned businesses benefit from the logging, trucking, sawmill, and reforestation work. Our county receives 64 percent of the revenue generated from those harvests for our schools, sheriff’s office, fire/rescue, 911 center and other services. Through this contractual relationship, ODF keeps the remaining 36 percent of harvest revenue to cover the costs associated with managing these lands, preventing wildfire, and providing public access and recreation.

Developed behind closed doors with federal wildlife agencies and without direct input from the trust counties, the HCP would lock up over half of the state forestland for habitat and ultimately reduce timber harvest levels by 25-30 percent. This would reduce revenue coming into our community from harvest sales but also diminish family-wage, fully benefited jobs created by our local forest sector. The HCP would not even generate enough revenue to cover ODF’s current management costs, let alone anticipated future costs associated with increasing wildfire risk. The state cannot afford this HCP and neither can north coast communities.

The HCP would set aside roughly 300,000 acres for habitat, leaving forestland vulnerable to wildfire, insect infestation, and disease. Compounding the issue is the growing concern that the HCP will fail to provide the desired outcomes for threatened wildlife. The state is following an old way of thinking that if you simply create habitat, threatened wildlife populations will increase. In reality, the problems facing species like salmon, marbled murrelets, and spotted owls are far more complex.  Notwithstanding efforts to save the spotted owl in the 1990’s by restricting timber harvest on 90 percent of federal forestland, populations continue to decline. Habitat is not a silver bullet.

If the HCP is adopted as drafted, family-wage jobs will be lost, small businesses will close up shop, and schools and other taxing districts will have to ask the Legislature for funding instead of receiving benefits directly from timber sales. The mills in Tillamook County rely on timber from state forests. Reducing local timber supply further will make it increasingly difficult for us to maintain our wood manufacturing base. The U.S. already imports 30 percent of our softwood lumber. With reduced state forest harvests, consumers will have to rely more and more on wood from the southern United States or foreign countries, which have far less stringent environmental restrictions than Oregon. And while all this is happening, Northern Spotted Owl populations will continue to plummet towards extinction.

However, this doesn’t have to be the fate of our state forests and natural resource-based economy. The Board of Forestry has the ability to direct ODF to start over and allow the trust counties a seat at the table or improve the current proposal as recommended by us. There are other more sensible and balanced paths forward that would improve both conservation and financial results for the state and our communities. As County Commissioner and Chair of Council of Forest Trust Lands Counties, I won’t give up on our natural resource sectors or the constituents I am proud to represent. But I need your help. Tell the Board of Forestry to fulfill their obligation to balance environmental, social and economic outcomes by rejecting this HCP as drafted and choose a better path forward that will bolster, not suppress, rural Oregon. You can send your comments directly to the Board of Forestry at BoardofForestry@oregon.gov .


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(1) comment


And here is your reminder, dear reader, that David Yamamoto is paid vast sums by Big Timber to spin facts to fit their narrative- which is simply "Make More Money for Wallstreet Shareholders."

Big Timber does not care one iota for our small towns, nor for the future of our doomed planet. Lest we forget, more trees are being clearcut this year than ever before! These internationally owned timber companies are not hurting for trees, they are suffering the consequences of their own greed. They will cut down the last tree left standing on this earth if they could make a buck, and David Yamomoto is here to help them!

Feel free to check out his top campaign contributors, if you need further reminding of who this corporate shill is working for:


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