Mother Nature is hurting, our health is threatened

Central Oregon Coast NOW President Sheila Swinford wrote this as a “Viewpoint” for the Newport News Times

I am writing this after reading the front page of the Friday, July 1, News-Times. The optimistic article about a soil study to prepare for log exports from the International Terminal on Yaquina Bay, and the photo of beautiful Spring Lake in Lincoln City were both there.   

As a resident of the coast range since 1973, I have observed the logging practices at close range for awhile. I do not share the optimism presented in the paper. The Spring Lake photo showed blooming Fox Glove, or digitalis, a non-native invasive and toxic plant well adapted to growing on recent clear-cuts, and that underlined the lack of environmental consideration that the piece about the International Terminal presented.   

Our beautiful county is chiefly supported by ecological tourism. Visitors come here excited   to be tourists and play at the beach, fish, hunt, dig clams, hike, boat, camp, and even bicycle and hunt mushrooms. They come to appreciate art and nature.   

Most of the county is forest, and, while we have federal and state land, most of the land is owned by private land holders, very big corporate land owners who do not live here and have out-of-state shareholders to be accountable to.   

The truth is that the county’s income is mostly property taxes from local business and homeowners. The taxes from logging are a tiny percentage of the total. Oregon also taxes the timber revenue at a very low rate, lower than Washington, California or Idaho. There is not a high proportion of jobs from logging, which depends on huge machinery and small   crews. The current time that replanted forests are allowed to grow is short, like 32 years, reduced from 40 years a while back, which does not support the environment in terms of carbon fixing, soil stability or a healthy environment in general. New plantings of Douglas fir are helicopter sprayed with extremely toxic mixtures of pesticides, killing all broad-leafed native plants, deer and elk forage. The toxins move about and stay in water, soil and air.   

Living in the industrial forest for the last 43 years, I have noticed a drastic reduction in observing deer, bunnies and other wildlife. There is no forage on sprayed clear-cuts. Hunters who have hunted here for generations are shocked by the lack of deer.   

Exporting our environmental foundation, our wealth of trees, the raw logs, is a detrimental   practice. Instead, we could be caring for the environment by longer rotations, thinning instead of clear-cutting and instituting non-toxic weed control. We could be creating local jobs of milling so a product could be sold. New jobs dealing with weed control, thinning and starting small businesses involved with wood could happen. Our community could come together in an awareness of our connection with our natural environment.   

Our beautiful county and eco-tourism are at risk. Mother Nature is hurting. Our health is threatened.

I felt sad looking at the front page of the News-Times because of the lack of awareness of what is being destroyed.   

Sheila Swinford lives near Toledo. 

Reprinted from Newport News Times, Friday, July 8, 2016, Page A6


Leave a Reply