Target: Oregon Treasurer Tobias Read
Goal: Rescind a $221 million deal to sell the oldest public forest in Oregon to a logging company, which would destroy habitat protecting threatened species.
Oregon treasurer Tobias Read has joined the growing list of politicians in America who have taken a stand against public lands. His recent vote to support a proposed sale of 83,000 acres of land making up the Elliott State Forest to Lone Rock Timber Company will likely result in irreparable damage and harm to wildlife. Conservation groups argue that a number of threatened or endangered species could be severely affected if the deal goes through.
Elliott State Forest (or as it is locally known, “the Elliott”) is the oldest public forest in Oregon, created in 1930 and located near Coos Bay in the Oregon Coast Range. It supports vast stands of Douglas-fir and western hemlock trees, and in one area is home to the highest concentration of Endangered Species Act-listed coho salmon in the entire region. Logging has devastating effects on local watersheds, so it is likely that any expansion in logging activities would cause severe harm to these fish. The forest also shelters similarly endangered spotted owls, and makes up the nesting grounds for a threatened seabird called the marbled murrelet.
Under Oregon’s state constitution, the forest must be managed for the benefit of public schools. While a decrease in logging due to conservation concerns has resulted in recent revenue losses, there are better alternatives to privatization which would ensure that the forest has a future and that education can continue to be supported. If the state purchased the forest through public bonds (as Governor Kate Brown proposed recently), schools would not be hurt and the protection of the forest would hold in an estimated 3 billion tons of carbon, which would help Oregon meet its climate goals.
Oregon has lagged behind its neighboring states when it comes to protecting public land. With only 4% of its lands currently under state protection, it has done little to help ensure that its massive forests, which are home to hundreds of species, will continue to be around for future generations. Privatizing public land in Oregon is a step in the wrong direction for conservation within the state. These lands must be protected to ensure clean watersheds and to help fight climate change.
This forest must be held in trust for future generations to enjoy, not sold to a timber company to exploit. Please tell Treasurer Read to reconsider this proposed sell-off.
Dear Treasurer Read,
Oregon’s public lands are in danger. Elliott State Forest is the latest example of the growing and troubling trend to privatize public lands throughout the country, and I urge you to reconsider your support for the $221 million deal with Lone Rock Timber Company which would sell off 83,000 acres of public forest land. This area is home to many threatened and endangered species, including those protected under the Endangered Species Act such as coho salmon and spotted owls, and an increase in clearcutting would severely and adversely affect the ecosystem.
I am concerned that this sell-off could set a risky precedent for other public lands within the state. This is not the time to cut back on environmental protections. We must do more to ensure that future generations can enjoy the forest and that wildlife has a chance to survive under changing circumstances.
During your campaign for election, you had voiced support for the Elliott. I urge you now to follow through with your commitment to the people of Oregon, and to hold their interests and the interests of the environment over the profits of logging companies. Please reconsider your support and work with Governor Brown to find ways to keep the forest within the public trust while still helping to support public education.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Oregon Department of Forestry