PERSONAL STATEMENT AND PRESENTATION OF PETITION TO THE COUNTY COMMISIONERS ON JANUARY 4, 2017
I am Gwendolyn Endicott. My family has called Oregon home for six generations; we have the history of Oregon in our family memory—I remember old growth forests; my father remembered spawning salmon swimming upstream, bank to bank in the Willamette river; his father remembered wilderness. We have been loggers, trappers, fishermen, farmers, teachers, shop keepers, scientists, timber industry executives…
For thirty years, I have lived in a forest in the upper watershed of the Nehalem River, alongside West Coal Creek and its tributaries. With the help of botanists and biologists, I have catalogued what lives in the forest—87 native plant species; 8 native tree species; 6 salamander species; a large population of red legged frogs; mosses and fungi beyond enumeration…
I cannot even begin to describe the complexity of the forest and the many gifts it offers– in working as a sponge to filter Oregon’s torrential rains, and slow the waters that run downhill to the ocean; in working as the lungs of the planet, creating pure air; in storing carbon; in replacing nitrogen; in the multitudes of medicinal plants and fungi that find home there. ..
There have been many changes in the thirty years I have lived in the forest: The hillside in the distance, the headwaters of West Coal Creek, is now clear cut. In the last snowfall, it looked like a ski slope. The water of West Coal Creek rises fast and roars downstream, brown and turbulent, taking with it banks and big trees as it joins a silt filled Nehalem River. There used to be schools of cutthroat trout, runs of Chum Salmon, Chinook in the Spring, and a large population of crawdads. I never see crawdads anymore; I don’t see cut throat trout, and I rarely see salmon. Behind me, the trees below a logging road have blown down, missing my house by 150 ft.
I say this to you because our actions DO have consequences. How can we believe your assertion that the present logging practices are not damaging to the environment when we look around us at hills shaved barren and remember the complexity and richness of a forest. How can we look at those barren hills that now surround us on the coast and not know that we have lost something of great Value.
The native people of the land offer a profound ecological wisdom that we are just beginning to understand. These words come from the Iroquois:
“Think not so much of present advantage—as of the future welfare of the people. Think not forever of yourselves, not of your own generation. Think of those yet unborn whose faces are coming from beneath the ground. “
“Make your decision on behalf of the seven generations coming so that they may enjoy what you have today.”
The petition I bring to you today, at the moment signed by 225 people, is a compilation of many voices and many points of view. But all support Oregon Department of Forestry and their management policy shaped by the 1998 definition of “greatest permanent value” –as meaning “healthy, productive, and sustainable forest ecosystems that over time and across the landscape produce a full range of social, economic and environmental benefits to the people of Oregon.”
*The word “Nehalem,” as you probably know, means “where the People live.” Many of the people who signed this petition offer their first hand experience of working and living in this place. They have been the ones to suffer from the mudslides, flooding, and diminishment of the forests. They are also often the ones who do the repair work.
*Some of us who signed this petition worked alongside ODF these last twenty years in Watershed Councils, Land Trusts, and private restoration projects. We planted trees, did riparian restoration, water testing, culvert replacement, Bay and ocean cleanups … We also, in good faith, attended meetings with Oregon Department of Forestry on the wisdom of “Structure Based Management” as a way to create the conditions of a sustainable forest.
*Many who signed the petition, find it puzzling how the State can be sued by the counties for attempting to follow a legal statute that was supported by the counties (including this one) 18 years ago.
*Both those who live here and those who come as tourists because it is beautiful are deeply concerned about the amount of clear-cutting they see around them, and the degradation of water quality. They do not understand how the State can be sued for mismanagement and not be forced to cut more trees to produce more revenue. They do not believe that the current logging practices are not damaging to the “environment.”
*We realize that you have made your decision out of concern for the revenue needs of Tillamook County, but many wonder why other sources of revenue are not being considered; why, for instance, the timber industry does not contribute to county revenue, since they use the resources of the place—and create many of the problems.
We would like our voices to be recorded as citizens who do not agree with your decision on this issue. We believe that going back to a definition of “greatest permanent value” that emphasizes revenue above all other values is, indeed, a movement backwards. We believe it would result in further destruction of the place where we live.