Commissioners oppose Board of Forestry’s plan

A proposed Habitat Conservation Plan for Oregon State Forest lands does not recognize best sciences information and will have serious social and economic impacts on counties where the more than 700,000 acres of State Forests are located, the Linn County Board of Commissioners noted in a recent letter to the Oregon Board of Forestry.

The letter is addressed to Jim Kelly, chair of the Board of Forestry and State Forester Cal Mukumoto.

The letter was introduced into the public record at a Tuesday, Sept. 6, board meeting. Commissioner Sherrie Sprenger was not present, but had previously approved the letter, as had fellow commissioners Roger Nyquist and Will Tucker.

“You have heard a lot from Linn County about the social and economic issues from reduced revenue, loss of jobs and the loss of capacity as a direct result of the HCP very negatively affecting our communities and citizens,” the letter noted. “We have talked about the results that the massive wildfires have had and will have going into the future as large swaths of the forests are destroyed. We have reminded the ODF (Oregon Department of Forestry) and the Board of lost lives and the risk to our constituents.”

The commissioners urged the Board of Forestry to recognize the Governor’s Council Wildfire Response developed in 2019 that noted the need for more state lands to be treated for fire reduction, not less, as proposed in the HCP. The Governor’s Council proposes treating at least 300,000 acres annually.

“How does the HCP address this increased need for treatment on state lands?” the commissioners ask. “It looks to us that the need for more treatment is not considered and it is important that the work described in the plan be integrated into the HCP. The proposed HCP does not treat more acres: it does just the opposite by increasing acres not treated. Yet, the treatment of forestlands was ranked ‘highest’ priority in the Governor’s plan.”

The Governor’s council recommends that treatment be increased three to four times the current status, but the HCP could set a tone for the next 70 years, “which pushes preventative fire response into the distant future.”

The commissioners urged the Board of Forestry to “stop the current HCP.”

In other business, the commissioners:

♦ Gave County Administrative Officer Darrin Lane approval to discuss a potential lease of county property near the new intermodal facility in Millersburg with Green Impact Partners/Cascadia Biogas. The company plans to use woody materials from mid-valley forests to create biofuels.

♦ Appointed Matt Newquist to the Developmental Disabilities Advisory Board and Ken Bronson to the Transportation Advisory Committee.

♦ Announced that Commissioners Nyquist and Tucker will participate in a meeting of the Association of Oregon Counties to be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday at the Linn County Fair & Expo Center.

♦ Announced a meeting of the county’s management staff to be held Wednesday, Sept. 7, in the courthouse basement meeting room.

– Alex Paul, Linn County Communications Officer