The Coos County Airport District is supported by the taxpayers of Coos County. Those taxpayers deserve some answers. The Airport District is planning to clear cut the standing timber on the land it owns surrounding the airport. It plans to start this project as early as January 10. Some questions:
Why is the district clear cutting these trees? Various answers have been given. A flier left on some of the homes in the area stated that a forester had determined that 90% of the trees were “mature, diseased, dying and/or already dead.” I requested any written reports prepared by this forester, but none have been provided. What percentage of the trees are mature and what percentage diseased or dying? I am not a forester, but I walk in this area almost every day. The vast majority appear to be healthy trees as you would see in any coastal forest. So why is it necessary to cut the whole forest? Why is it necessary to remove mature trees?
The forester who made the assessment that 90% of the trees are in need of cutting is apparently the forester who will do the clear cutting. And if the forester who will be doing the clear cutting is the same person who decided that the trees were diseased or dying why is that not a conflict of interest? Why has there not been an independent assessment by someone who does not have a financial stake in the outcome?
Has there been any assessment of the effect of this clear cutting on the wildlife in the area? Deer and numerous species of birds inhabit the area. Their habitat will be wholly destroyed. Does that have any significance for the district? Or is that “Oh well”?
There is also a human community that will be affected. The neighborhood in the Airport Heights district be severely affected aesthetically, resulting in the reduction of property values, especially along Arthur street and parts of Connecticut and Colorado streets. Those who use this area for walking, bird watching and bike riding will also be affected. More “Oh well”?
The district has said its purpose is to develop the property in order to derive income from it. I have no issue with that, but clear cutting the entire forest does not advance that goal. If there is a development that is proposed and is shovel ready, remove whatever trees are necessary for that development.
Another rationale was that the proposed plan was necessary to remain in compliance with FAA regulations. What FAA regulation requires clear cutting the trees that are nowhere near any aircraft operation?
The Coos County Airport District is governed by its elected board. The board members are Helen Mineau, Mike Collins, Brent Pahls, Joe Benetti and Jason Bell. Public comments can be given at email@example.com or 541-756-8531. The public deserves answers.
John Meynink is retired and lives on Arthur Street in the Airport Heights district of North Bend.