A smart and honorable decision

2011-07-05T11:00:00Z A smart and honorable decisionBy The World Editorial Board Coos Bay World
July 05, 2011 11:00 am  • 

Leadership sometimes requires making an unpopular decision. Coos County commissioners did the right thing last week, resisting pressure to torpedo a tribal logging project.

The Coquille Indian Tribe has spent the past several years pursuing an innovative deal with the federal Bureau of Land Management. If the government agrees to tribal stewardship of some federal lands, the tribe's special legal status might allow increased timber cutting -- bringing more revenue for the county and more jobs for local residents.

Previous commissioners endorsed the tribe's plan in 2008. But greed always is the enemy of cooperation. Recent publicity about the tribe's progress provoked a movement by some local citizens to elbow the tribe aside and pursue county control of the forest.

The county-centric option probably was tempting to the commissioners. But going into competition with the tribe would have been disastrous for the community.

Winning federal approval for a new kind of land management is a delicate political process. Any such proposal must get past a cautious bureaucracy, a skeptical Congress, and a powerful environmental lobby that reflexively opposes timber harvesting.

Politically, an Indian tribe is better-positioned to prevail in today's Washington than a county would be. But even a tribe can't win if the feds perceive a divided community. Rather than referee a squabble between local entities, the feds would walk away, leaving our community with no new timber revenue, no new jobs, and a fresh grudge between the tribe and the county.

The commissioners wisely decided that a share of something is better than all of nothing. They'll continue backing the tribe, though they intend to negotiate for better terms.

Renewed talks with the tribe may be fruitful, but the county should walk softly. To succeed, this project must be designed around federal political realities, not local ones.

Copyright 2016 Coos Bay World. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(3) Comments

  1. coastrange
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    coastrange - July 05, 2011 3:14 pm
    There is no honor in making a deal with a special interest group behind the backs of the people of Coos County. Bob Main, in 2008 stated as follows: "I'd like to bring a different look to the board," Main said, "where we have a more open policy, and not these agendas that go on with noncompetitive contracts and tax breaks that aren't known by everybody." Registered Guard
    Why is this matter being kept so low key?
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    BANDONMAN - July 05, 2011 1:35 pm
    Should the Commissioners choose to work with the Tribes there MUST be a sure-fire iron-clad contract which is binding on the Tribe and the County. As it stands a contract with the Tribes is not worth the paper it's written on. The Tribes have walked on past contracts with Government Agencies and their own employees with the Courts blessing!
  3. Polar Bear
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    Polar Bear - July 05, 2011 1:00 pm
    Are you sure about that "smart and honorable decision" ??????
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