By Glenna Gray
I like to drive around the Nehalem area and take photos. Sometimes I venture south to Nedonna Beach, sometimes north to Short Sands and beyond. Last week I was stopped in my tracks when I was at a favorite vantage point and saw a huge clear cut which had been forest just days ago. If you have looked over your shoulder on the way to Mohler Store lately, or stood in Wheeler and looked back toward Onion Peak, you may have noticed also. That night I got a call from a friend in tears as she had gone up to take a walk in that forest, like she usually does, and it was gone! The Nehalem City website states that Bob’s Creek is the city water source. The clearcuts are on both sides of Bob’s Creek…and much much further.
The timber industry has no boundaries. In spite of the current Forest Practices Act, which is woefully out of date with current science, they continue to destroy the North Oregon Coast unchecked. With many more people employed in the tourism industry than in timber, I wonder where the voices of the tourism council and businesses are?
The timber folks say, “We need jobs!” Actually, the timber barons are eliminating jobs through technology (the feller-buncher for example) and moving to other states. Let’s find funding to retrain timber industry employees to harvest trees sustainably, or get involved in other emerging ‘green’ fields.
They say- “We give back to the community!” Since 2005 timber companies have paid no income tax in Oregon. They pay $2 per acre property tax, and that goes to the OFRI organization to advertise for the lumber business. Any money that goes into the state, county or school coffers comes from state lands.
They say-“It is safe to clear cut on steep slopes.” Those slopes slide without the roots of the trees to hold them. The slides end up blocking streams and silting up larger waterways. The silt destroys peoples’ water systems and eventually runs into the ocean…including our protected marine reserve.
They say-“It doesn’t hurt anything to divert streams, even fish-bearing streams.” They even state that clear cuts bring more water to streams. Perhaps they do initially, as small streams run bigger during winter rains, but by summer the area is incredibly dry without needle drip or shade to maintain moisture needed to water the trees..
They say- “Spraying pesticides and herbicides onto clear cuts is perfectly safe for wildlife and people.” Ask the people of Gold Beach how safe spraying is, ask neighbors here near the Nehalem what they have been through after local spraying.
It really amazed me that the Oregon Department of Forestry allowed the most recent clear cuts in Nehalem right over the city’s water source. Two cuts on Stimson Lumber ground and two on Weyerhauser for a total, when all are complete, of 300 acres reinforces the message that these companies have no morals when it comes to decimating nature when there is money to be made.
A man I met recently said that the timber companies are “Going for broke” and clear cutting as fast and furiously as possible for two reasons: first, that the price of lumber is down, so they have to cut twice as much to make the same profit, and, second, they know the citizens of Oregon are waking up to the horrible forestry practices that our neighbors, Washington and California abandoned long ago.
In view of the climate crisis we are facing, in view of the rampant greed and lack of consideration for nature and their neighbors, I’d say the timber companies are out of control and need to be held accountable for their actions. Please speak out. Attend city council meetings and ask why this was allowed to happen. Contact your representatives who should be paying attention to this issue. Vote.