By editorial board • 

Enviros continue to block deal, counties not doing much better

For decades, the federal Bureau of Land Management has been stuck between the rock of Northwest timber counties and the hard place of environmental advocacy coalitions. 

In matters of public debate, the best solution is often somewhere in the moderate middle. In the case of federally owned O&C lands, that would entail some sort of forward-thinking plan providing increased logging on BLM lands and establishing and enforcing measures to better protect streams, forests and the habitat they provide. 

The problem is, opposing sides become so caught up in their ideologies they are unable to work toward a viable solution.

A Tuesday story detailed the battle over the BLM’s latest draft plan to manage forests. Environmental groups have filed an appeal, accusing the agency of failing to protect the public trust, while the Association of O&C Counties submitted a legal challenge arguing that the plan would fail to deliver mandated timber harvest levels. 

Yamhill County is an O&C county, but with much less stake than others. It doesn’t rely on O&C funds for general revenue, which has put some Southern Oregon counties on the brink of dissolution.

But the Yamhill County commissioners loosed a deluge of criticism to BLM representatives at a recent meeting, and it took the “give back our lands” tone of  the movement trying to force the government to relinquish all western holdings.

Environmental groups are blinded by their own ideology, of course, and to no lesser extent. They keep repeating mindless mantras like, “Clearcutting kills fish” and “We don’t need more clearcuts” — rhetoric designed to convince the public that decades-old practices remain in play.

In fact, the BLM is employing ecological logging practices developed by regional scientists. They include clearcutting small patches and allowing habitat to naturally regenerate. That approach works better than thinning, which creates a falsified matrix of wooded lands, scientists argue.

The private business sector has been willing to meet somewhere in the middle. It really has no option, as environmental challenges continue to clog the court system otherwise, stalling all activity.

It’s too bad environmentalists are willing to go above and beyond to preserve the marbled murrelet, but refuse to consider any measures to preserve our rural communities and economy, the demise of which lead to poverty, drug abuse and child neglect. On the other side, county representatives would be better advised to speak in more measured fashion instead of falling into a feud dominated by trite arguments.


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