GOP leaders want rule changed, more thinning

Oregon Republican Party leaders in two dozen counties on Friday called for the head of the Forest Service in the Pacific Northwest to change an 11-year-old logging rule that they claim has had untold negative ecological and economic impacts on rural communities.

A resolution approved by the Republican delegates from every corner of Oregon demands that Regional Forester Linda Goodman, “simultaneously amend the national Forest plans to remove the 21-inch DBH rule for each national Forest on the east side of the Cascade Mountains in Oregon and Washington.”

The 21″ DBH rule was a temporary measure in 1993 which restricts the harvest of trees over 21 inches in diameter on millions of acres in the national forests in Eastern Oregon and Washington. The resolution notes that, “Public forests of Eastern Oregon and Washington are choked by low-value understory fuels as well as with mature and over mature unhealthy, dying or dead trees.”

Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., was recently appointed to chair an important Subcommittee on Forestry. Last year, he was instrumental in passage of the Healthy Forests Restoration Act. In 2002, Walden and Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., wrote a joint letter to the head of the Forest Service, stating that this rule has increased fuel loads in our national forests and it “impedes us from preventing repeat occurrences of catastrophic fires similar to what has already occurred in …other parts the West.”

Tim Smith, chairman of the Harney County Republican Party, explained, “It makes no sense to allow these forests to sit there full of bug infestations and disease. We should be allowed to cut these larger trees to help our local economies instead of wasting our renewable resources.”

Candy Kittle-Mize from Washington County, Co-Chair of the Rural-Urban Bridge Committee of the Oregon Republican Party, pointed out, “The support we’ve seen for this resolution has been overwhelming. This issue is an example of how Republicans from all over Oregon have come together to resolve a problem facing one portion of our state. This is a great example of how we’re trying to erase the rural-urban divide.”

The following resolution, along with a letter from Republican leaders, was delivered to the Regional Forester Friday:

WHEREAS the Public forests of Eastern Oregon and Washington are choked by low value understory fuels as well as with mature and over mature unhealthy, dying or dead trees;

WHEREAS management exclusively through thinning and selective cutting of small diameter trees leaves a legacy of single aged forest which eventually leads to a complete loss of healthy balanced forests;

WHEREAS the retention of the 21 inch DBH rule is strictly arbitrary and is not supported by silvicultural science nor healthy forest practice and management;

WHEREAS harvesting larger diameter trees from public lands is necessary to provide economically attractive timber harvesting projects and a viable and stable private sector timber industry;

WHEREAS the redevelopment of the Timber industry in Eastern Oregon and Washington is vital to the economic base of Oregon and Washington and especially those rural areas which lack a wide range of industry to support their economic base;

WHEREAS the generation of tax dollars by timber production on public land is critical to the financial well being of our timber producing counties’ school systems and transportation infrastructure;

WHEREAS the elimination of the 21 DBH rule is critical as a symbol to the logging industry in Eastern Oregon and Washington and those that would reinvest in timber processing facilities in those areas that stable economically viable logging is important and a goal critical to the future of all of Oregon;

WHEREAS the 21 inch DBH rule has been detrimental to maintenance of sustained logging practices which in the past have successfully worked as forest fuel load reduction tools and provided immediate close response teams in the form of logging crews to control incipient fires until government fire crews can arrive;

WHEREAS the Inter Columbia River Basin Environmental Management Plan that was the driver for this policy has not and may not ever address that issue as it was designed to do 10 years ago;

WHEREAS the 21 inch DBH rule can be rescinded by a simple forest plan amendment;

be it RESOLVED by the Oregon Republican Party and the undersigned individual County Republican Central Committees within the State of Oregon that Linda Goodman, US Forest Service Region 6, Pacific Northwest Region, Regional Forester, simultaneously amend the National Forest plans to remove the 21 inch DBH rule for each National Forest on the east side of the Cascade Mountains in Oregon and Washington.

We hereby endorse the resolution as titled above and put forward by the Rural-Urban Bridge Committee of the Oregon Republican Party.

Chair, Oregon Republican Party

Kevin Mannix

Oregon Republican Party Congressional District Chairs

Jeff Smith Chair, ORP 1st Congressional District
Jeanetta Garner Chair, ORP 2nd Congressional District
Fred Dayton, Chair, ORP 4th Congressional District

Oregon Republican Party County Chairs

Jan Kerns Baker County
Jane Lokan Clackamas County
Mike Autio Clatsop County
Mike Powell Columbia County
Anita Conn Coos County
Ted Robinson Crook County
Carl Daugherty Douglas County
Dale Stennett Grant County
Tim Smith Harney County
Camille Hukari Hood River County
Bryan Platt Jackson County
Helen Scott Josephine County
Jeff Woodwick Klamath County
Bob Avery Lane County
Arthur Anderson Lincoln County
Charles Oakes Malheur County
Denyc Boles Marion County
Tim Nashif Multnomah County
Scott Powell Polk County
Al Macleod Union County
Susan Roberts Wallowa County
Jim Lehman Wasco County
Jeff Grossman Washington County
Elizabeth Carol Wheeler County
Neil Cohen Yamhill County