Leaders insist: Forests cannot be off limits

Summit critiques federal laws as crippling to economy
2012-05-26T07:00:00Z 2012-05-27T20:55:41Z Leaders insist: Forests cannot be off limitsBy Daniel Simmons-Ritchie, The World Coos Bay World

NORTH BEND -- Once the driving force of Oregon's economy, decades of regulation have turned the tree-lined coast into an albatross.

That was the consensus among economists, state lawmakers and county officials from Clatsop to Curry who gathered at The Mill Casino-Hotel for a summit focused solely on Oregon's coastal economy.

Closing the two-day Oregon Coast Economic Summit, Sen. Joanne Verger, D-Coos Bay, told a 200-strong crowd on Friday that regaining control of the coast's forests and waters remained a frustrating battle.

'If you look at those assets, you wonder why in the world we are not absolutely prosperous," Verger said. 'Yet we have to fight every day, every week, every month to have our voice heard about how to build our economy."

Speaking on a local government panel, George Rhodes, a Curry County commissioner, said regulations on federal forestland were starving his county to death.

Shared revenue from harvests on federal forestland have historically sustained Curry and other southwestern counties. This year, its expected only about 20 of 700,000 acres of federal forest will be harvested in Curry. Rhodes said his county now faces the prospect of insolvency, threatening everything from search-and-rescue operations to law enforcement.

'And It could be resolved if we just had an appropriate management plan for our federal forests in the state of Oregon," Rhodes said.

But not all the talk was doom and gloom. In his closing remarks, state Rep Arnie Roblan, D-Coos Bay, said that the overlapping problems also pointed to solutions. For instance, the need for better road infrastructure in the southwest.

'The best transportation to the coast is way up north," Roblan said. 'And if you look way down to Curry County -- how do you get there? They have known that for a long time."

Speaking after the event, Roblan said another major benefit for for the coast's top officials to network.

'People were telling me, 'it would have taken me a week to set up a meeting with these three people -- and we just did it now,'" Roblan said.

Roblan, who spearheaded of the summit, said it was likely another would be held next year. A different coastal city would likely be chosen to host.

Reporter Daniel Simmons-Ritchie can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 249, or at dritchie@theworldlink.com.

Copyright 2015 Coos Bay World. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(8) Comments

  1. Carl
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    Carl - May 28, 2012 8:43 am
    Developing a import and export hub in the Bay Area will generate higher paying jobs on the coast. All you get with the resource colony mentality is a poverty economy. But if you don't believe me, ask a longshore worker!
  2. penelop
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    penelop - May 27, 2012 9:15 pm
    Because we're idiots.
  3. penelop
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    penelop - May 27, 2012 9:15 pm
    Our natural resources will never run out. EVER. And if they do, for some reason, God will save us!
  4. fernhobbs
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    fernhobbs - May 27, 2012 5:39 am
    As I drove by the only new construction in town, the metal of the 2x4's was glaringly bright. Mr Roblan please get the Wood First bill going again, if you are serious about the wood industry.HB3249. It would be a good start.
  5. Mr E
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    Mr E - May 26, 2012 5:02 pm
    3) The over-reliance upon cheap and environmentally-damaging methods of harvest (clearcutting, mostly) essentially kill the ability to harvest a tract for at least 50 years, and the fact that the method has become SO EFFICIENT has actually killed off a lot of logging companies and taken away a lot of jobs. Were we to use more sustainable, environmentally-friendly methods of harvesting (many methods have worked outside of the US), we could sustain the industry for short AND LONG TERM growth.
  6. Mr E
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    Mr E - May 26, 2012 4:58 pm
    Simple minds provide easy answers, and it's much easier to blame "over-regulation" or "environmentalists" for the lack of revenue from state/federal forest lands.

    Let's consider a few other factors. 1) Though most logging and log truck companies are small, it's often large, penny-pinching corporations who own production facilities and who, basically, control the price AND market on raw lumber. 2) Our exports to poorer nations, particularly China, has gutted the price for raw wood.
  7. Konajack
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    Konajack - May 26, 2012 10:40 am
    An economy based on resource extraction alone never has and never will create a sustainable basis this county can count on. Yet resource extraction is the only thing on the minds of the folks who are purported to move things around here. Never hear nothing around here but whining about the "good old days" that, for the people who lived and worked here, weren't all that great. The profiteers did well and lived well but not here. Get a clue.
  8. IWanttoknow
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    IWanttoknow - May 26, 2012 9:39 am
    Remember, its an election year!! Fact is not only is Mr. Roblen speaking of this 'Concern', Problem, Stupidity (my word)but so has many past, current, and will be future elected officials. Mr. Roberts running for State Sen. is one of those future officials! So, folks Talk is Cheap, Reality is Costly and without a 'major' shake up of the 'Crowd' East of the Mississippi IT WOULDN'T Happen!! Should WE THE PEOPLE of the West keep trying, looking for Super....? Of Course, We need to keep trying!
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