What’s best for Oregon trees? Step D: Forming an Opinion

Part Five of Five –

This brings me back around to where I started… contemplating the Tree Sitters. I’m reassured that spending the last few weeks researching and authoring my own attempts to understand, “What’s best for Oregon trees?”, is a pursuit in which I’m not alone. Comments at the base of the article, Tree Sitters Don’t Buy Logging Designed To Mimic Nature, still illuminate the attention and reaction of others concerned about the decision-making processes that determine the fates of forests. I appreciate the viewpoints of those who present academic points of view. I also appreciate the viewpoints of others who share more visceral  reactions to forest management issues. Careful consideration to both ends of the human spectrum of thought will be useful in determining priorities and achieving well-conceived goals.

When it comes to forest-management, timber-harvest, conservation, preservation, endangered species, watershed integrity, carnivore protection, climate change, global warming … are all vitally complex and connected. They form an ecological menu in need of the prioritization that will insure well-conceived AND well-achieved goals. One of the comments made by a reader on my blog post- Step C: Understanding Oregon and California Land Grant Act of 2013 – had to do with “following the money.” … that’s probably what it all comes down to in the end. However…

I’d like to believe that informed stakeholders will ultimately impact legislation/policy-making with the integrity necessary for non-biased, non-self-serving priority-making. I’d like to believe those actions will result in well-conceived and well-achieved goals. I believe our planet no longer has the staying-power to sustain those who think it is their right to plunder resources (of any kind) for exorbitant personal gain/wealth. Two hundred years ago, the price was paid through wanton depletion of natural resources. One hundred years ago, the price was paid through pollution of air, soils, and water. This hundred years, the price potentially will be paid through climate change/global warming. Can the planet continue to sustain the assaults inflicted by those who think it’s their “right” to greed the earth? Honestly? Who would think so?

Is there ground-work in place for responsible priority-setting, and well-conceived and well-achieved goals when it comes down to determining, “What’s best for Oregon trees?” Yes, I believe there is. One more time, let’s go back to go forward:

Remember Theodore Roosevelt? He identified, understood, and championed ideas that:

  • defined the concepts of conservation and preservation;
  • became foundational in the designation of public forest lands and national monuments;
  • formed the Forest Service;
  • recognized the public’s need to be aware of their connection to the natural world and to realize their responsibility to use resources wisely.

The following is a paragraph quoted from a paper written by Jessica Sheffield, University of South Carolina that defines the conservation ethic Theodore Roosevelt promoted.   I propose this ideal, expressed in twenty-first century speak, is a message that hasn’t gone out of style. It is as apropos now as it was in 1908:

It was not enough,though, for Roosevelt to make his own moral choices. Rather than a private or religious morality, Roosevelt presented conservation as a public, communal morality. He stated, “This public interest is omnipresent wherever  there is a State, and grows more pressing as population grows. Not as a dictum of law, which I cannot make, but as a dictum moral, I wish to say that this applies to more than the forests and streams.” He labeled the “exhaustion” of natural resources “the weightiest problem now before the Nation.”… For Roosevelt, a progress defined by common effort versus individual profit and realized through conservation represented one of the highest moral laws a community could obey. In proposing conservation to the nation at large, Roosevelt provided a way for the United States to demonstrate that its own shared moral commitment to conservation outweighed the pursuit of personal profit.(2)

Would Roosevelt be disappointed by where we are as a Nation environmentally a little over one hundred years later?  Yes, but I think his dismay would be multi-faceted with: where we are, how long it took to get here, and the price paid morally and ecologically. However, I also think he would be encouraged to see the conversations erupting; points of view being voiced and heard; and the steadfastness with which some leaders hold in regards to demanding that agencies work together and collaborate on solutions for forest restoration and harvest.

The questions that came to me as I read through the major pieces of federal forest management, not surprisingly, seem to be ones others ask as well. In one fashion or another, I see these themes in conversations, blogs, news stories, and committee reports. What that tells me, is conversations are taking place that are relevant, thoughtful, and geared toward the promotion of collaborative problem-solving.

  • The Northwest Forest Plan
    • The FOREST is seen… Question: have the trees inadvertently been harmed?
  • Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act (H.R. 1526)-
    • The TREES are seen… Question: has the forest been over-looked? 
  • Oregon and California Land Grant Act of 2013 (S. 1784)-
    • The FOREST and the TREES are seen… Question: has one been seen to the detriment of the other?
    • Are the wrong forests being proposed for the  ecologically responsible logging practices “experiment….”

I am more informed now than I was several weeks ago, but still have much to follow in the news as this legislation challenge is still in its infancy. I sense some important debates are just getting underway. I plan to pay attention to what is happening in Salem as Governor Kitzhaber works with the Oregon Board of Forestry and a list of recommendations they drafted. Senator Wyden is scheduled to hold a Town Hall in Washington County on January 20th. I plan to attend and learn more about the Oregon and California Land Grant Act of 2013.

Do I have a firm opinion? Not yet, the opinion I am forming leads me to continue following this legislation, to attend the Town Hall, and to voice my thoughts where and as the opportunity presents itself. For now, I hope this series sharing my understandings will assist others to seek facts and voice opinions about the management of Oregon trees and forest eco-systems. We are all stakeholders, and would do well to follow the invitation emphatically extended to the public by Teddy Roosevelt- to participate in conserving our resources and remaining connected to the natural world. For now, I am leaning more towards the position of the Tree Sitters than the Tree Harvesters primarily because a well-conceived and well-achieved plan is still in the making. What’s Best for Oregon Trees? … I’ll be back …


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Webliography~
  1. Home, U.S.Senator Ron Wyden- www.wyden.senate.gov click on “Wyden introduces O&C legislation with a broad coalition
  2. Theodore Roosevelt, “Conservation as a National Duty;” Sheffield, J. Voices of Democracy, ISSN #1932-9539. http://www.voicesof democracy.umd.edu/

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