Opinion: Support Ron Wyden's timber legislation
The following was posted by The Oregonian on November 14, 2014:
There is a debate happening in Oregon that all Americans should be involved in. It is the debate over whether to protect our clean drinking water and keep our rivers and aquatic resources healthy for future generations. I am keenly interested in this because I am a businessman, an angler, a World War II veteran, a timberland owner and I respect our great outdoors.
As an angler and businessman, I know the value of Oregon¹s clean, healthy rivers. They draw anglers who spend money on gas, lodging, gear, fishing licenses and food. This supports local economies. My wife and I built Steamboat Inn on the North Umpqua in 1957, and anglers came from around the world.
As a World War II veteran, I understand the things soldiers fight for. They fight for freedom and also hope to leave the world a little better than they found it. I fought not just for myself and the people around me, but also for the millions after me.
I have seen firsthand the folly of over logging. Even on federal lands, owned by every American, from the 1950s to 1970s, agencies required no buffers next to streams, and they were logged to and through them. The water got warm, silt clogged the streams, salmon and steelhead production dropped. Wide buffer zones around streams are crucial for clean water, fish and other aquatic life. Extreme care must be taken not to add to the damage already done.
My wife and I own about 80 acres in the North Umpqua watershed. It has timber, some of which I log. I ensure my logging does not pollute nearby streams. Many timber companies and agency employees are good stewards who understand how to turn a profit while still protecting rivers and clean water. Others speak with a forked tongue. We must not allow the destruction of other precious resources when logging. We need strong laws and clear rules.
Some counties and timber companies are asking to increase logging on federal forests in Western Oregon. The debate right now is over logging on so-called "O&C Lands," which cover about 2.5 million acres. They provide drinking water to 1.8 million Oregonians, plus important habitat for fish and other aquatic life. Whatever is decided on these lands will set a precedent for future decisions on the rest of the 22 million acres of federal forests west of the Cascade Mountains, in northern California, Oregon and Washington.
I agree logging on these forests should increase to help support county revenues and public services. I also believe the state and counties should work together to increase revenue in other ways, but I believe we need balance. We need revenue. We need clean drinking water. We need to support the outdoor recreation industry by protecting public lands. We need to protect our quality of life, not only because it makes us happier, but because it helps attract talented employees to support growing businesses. And we need clean air. Trees are great for that.
I am grateful to Sen. Ron Wyden for crafting a thoughtful, scientifically defensible, balanced bill. It will be attacked as not enough, or too much. But it is a balanced approach, and it protects clean water, rivers, riparian areas and aquatic resources like fish.
My generation made mistakes. But we also made great sacrifices to ensure a safe and healthy world for our grandchildren. Help me ensure those sacrifices were not in vain by supporting Wyden¹s balanced proposal. I hope to be able to say truthfully to my great grandchildren: Yes, when you grow up, the rivers will still be healthy. The water will still be clean and cool. And you will still be able to catch a wild steelhead on the North Umpqua with a swinging fly.
Frank Moore is a WWII veteran and founder and former owner of the Steamboat Inn on the North Umpqua River.