County: No to Douglas fir monument

Linn County Commissioners Roger Nyquist, Sherrie Sprenger and Will Tucker unanimously agreed Tuesday morning, July 28, to send a letter to the mid-valley’s Congressional delegation opposing the proposed Douglas fir National Monument.

The proposed monument could be created by President Joe Biden through the 1906 Antiquities Act and would include more than 530,000 acres of both public and private forest lands in Linn and Marion counties.

Last October, President Biden approved monument status for the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments in Utah and Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Monuments in New England.

The Douglas fir National Monument would add another layer of management regulation on U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Linn County Parks, established roads and highways and, to a degree, privately owned forest lands in the geographic mix. It would run from Opal Creek in Marion County south to Tidbits Mountain in southern Linn County and would extend from the Quartzville Creek area east of Sweet Home to the eastern border of the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness Area.

The commissioners said they believe adding the monument status would further reduce timber harvests, lead to the abandonment of roads and increase the possibility of greater wildfire danger, ultimately leading to heightened public safety issues.

Chairman Nyquist said he opposed the designation because it would restrict any future firefighting efforts on those lands.

Nyquist and Sprenger asked Tucker to include in the letter information about the Santiam Canyon fires of Labor Day 2020 that caused billions of dollars’ worth of damage and loss of life.

“This is another unneeded layer of protection in an area that is already protected in many ways,” Tucker said.

In other business, the commissioners:

♦ Had a second reading of a proposed ordinance that would provide Linn County residents with the option to vote on whether they believe psilocybin mushrooms should legally be grown and distributed in the county. The issue will appear on Nov. 8 ballots.

♦ Approved an 8% inflation adjustment for three solid waste management companies that serve the rural parts of Linn County — Republic Services, Pacific Sanitation and Sweet Home Sanitation. The companies are faced with higher personnel, fuel, insurance and equipment costs. The county’s Solid Waste Advisory Committee had suggested a 10% increase based on a survey of costs by an independent contractor.

♦ Discussed the status of developing a wetlands mitigation inventory with Jenny Glass of the Oregon Cascades West Council of Governments. Glass said a supply and demand survey is expected to be completed by the end of September.

♦ Approved hiring Emmerson Marsh as an Emergency Management Recovery Coordinator with the Linn County Sheriff’s Office. The position is funded 50% by an Emergency Management Performance Grant.

♦ Accepted another $302,000 from the Crisis Mobile Response Program to help start the 988 mental health emergency telephone system.

♦ Approved paying annual dues of $7,500 for inclusion in the Oregon Timber Counties Coalition.

– Alex Paul, Linn County Communications Officer