Timber Industry Distorts to Exploit Our Forests

The Register Guard (Eugene, OR), July 11, 2013 | Go to article overview

Timber Industry Distorts to Exploit Our Forests


Byline: GUEST VIEWPOINT By Samantha Chirillo

The Register Guard guest viewpoint of June 25 by Jan Swanson supposedly states just the facts regarding Oregon's forests and industry, but instead distorts them. Swanson is connected to the Swanson Group, a family that owns mills dependent on public timber.

Her bias may be expected, but her name-calling is childishly rude. Educated, employed, property-tax-paying, law-abiding Oregonians like Susan Applegate and Patty Keene, whose June 6 guest viewpoint triggered Swanson's response, aren't "extremists" or "radicals." They just don't believe the unsupported claims that the timber industry cares for the best interests of Oregon's forests and people.

Swanson was more careful not to call some things what they really are. Her opinion never used the word "logging." When timber industry supporters say "manage," what they're really talking about is logging. Managing forests can be as benign as preserving wilderness. When "management" is focused on cutting and hauling away merchantable trees, it's more honestly called "logging."

Industry claims our public forests are sick and diseased and that they need more logging to make them healthy again. On the contrary, it's because they've been logged less and have larger, older, more fire-resistant trees that they are robust, valuable and coveted by the timber industry. U.S. Forest Service data shows the industry's forests in Oregon being logged faster than they're growing. The forest growth surplus Swanson speaks of is on our lands, not theirs. What's wrong with having a surplus?

The 86,000 Oregonians reported by Swanson as working in the "forest industry" is more than twice the number reported by the state Employment Department.

Swanson quotes other "facts" from the Oregon Forest Resources Institute. This organization is also biased heavily in favor of the timber industry. Created by the Legislature in 1991, Oregon Revised Statute 526.640 says "The Oregon Forest Resources Institute shall enhance and provide support for Oregon's forest products industry." The state Department of Revenue shows that OFRI is funded directly with forest products harvest taxes, benefiting directly from increased logging.

The legislative findings for establishing OFRI say, "The state of Oregon recognizes that the forest products industry is one of the largest industries in the state." This is not factual. The Employment Department's 2013 Industry Employment Forecast shows today's timber industry accounts for 3 percent of Oregon' payroll employment and contributes only 2 percent to 2020's projected employment. Most job growth is predicted to be in wholesale and retail trade, professional and business services, leisure and food service, and health and education. …

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