Wading out of the Tilla-Muck: Reducing Timber Harvests in the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests, and Protecting Rural Timber Economies through Ecosystem Service Programs
Environmental Law Review, Vol. 42, No. 4, 2012
64 Pages Posted: 13 Sep 2012 Last revised: 20 Feb 2013
Date Written: November 26, 2012
This article examines the contentious history of the ORS 530 state lands in the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests of Oregon's Pacific Coast Range, including an analysis of the lands’ unique "greatest permanent value" (GPV) management mandate, the local counties’ revenue incentives to harvest aggressively, and the subsequent and ongoing controversy over how to manage them. The article proceeds to interpret GPV, and posits that the legislature intended environmental values to be co-equal to revenue maximization in the GPV equation. Based on this conclusion, the article suggests that environmentalists and the timber industry agree to permanently remove (i.e. decouple) some ecologically important ORS 530 lands from harvesting as a way to effectuate a more balanced GPV. The article then models the approximately $6 million/year revenue gap created by such an agreement, including county budget shortfalls in three key counties, timber job impacts, and the impact on statewide public school funding. To combat this gap, the article proposes a state cash infusion to the counties, paid back over time by revenue from ecosystem service programs related to watershed protection, CO2 sequestration, and recreation/aesthetic value monetization. The article concludes that such programs could more than make up the gap, while moving the counties toward more diversified economies, creating a more resilient forest ecosystem, and possibly curtailing much of the political wrangling that has hampered the ORS 530 forests for decades.
Keywords: Tillamook, forest, ecosystem services, county funding, conservation, greatest permanent value
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