The Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) is proposing a 70-year Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) for state forests. Despite assurances that timber harvests would remain stable under the plan, last month ODF revealed our worst fears had been realized and the HCP would result in a 34% reduction in harvests beginning next year.
In early March, I travelled to Corvallis to attend a Board of Forestry meeting and stand up for my business and my community.
I am co-owner of Bighorn Logging out of Banks, Oregon. We have 70 employees that rely on us to keep them working. Our industry is already struggling to survive. We have lost six high capacity logging companies in our area in recent years. Their invaluable experience gone forever.
With this new HCP, I fear more companies will find themselves financially unstable and unable to stay in business. I’ve been forced to create a backup plan, meeting with timber companies in other states like Idaho and Washington. Leaving the state is not an ideal option but I need to make sure our employees have an opportunity to earn income for their families in a profession they love.
I also sit on the Banks Fire District Board of Directors. We rely on state forest timber revenue for equipment and personnel, which in turn, supports ODF on multiple fires throughout the year. What happens when can’t help fight fires? We need to be invested in the future of the fire service not crippling it.
I could walk around the block from our office to Hampton Lumber and the Banks Fire District. The operations in this single block in downtown Banks support over a hundred families and all of them depend on state forest timber harvests. The state should be working with our forest product industries, not cutting the legs out from under them. It should be building up the next generation of loggers, not setting them up for failure. It was a very sad day to have to sit in front of the Board of Forestry—a group of people who should know better—and fight for our industry.
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