Governor Kulongoski Opposes WOPR

By Tom Partin
American Forest Resource Council
AFRC News, 12/08

On December 8, Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski issued a six page letter asking the Bureau of
Land Management (BLM) not to adopt the Western Oregon Plan Revisions (WOPR) and to
reopen the public comment period. The BLM has spent nearly five years on the WOPR planning
process and worked closely with county governments, state agencies and the general public
throughout. Given the fact that the BLM worked with every relevant state agency to solicit input
and address relevant concerns, it is hard not to conclude the Governor chose politics over the
people of Oregon.

The Governor was given 60 days to review the plan for state law consistencies. He did not find
any inconsistencies, but instead cited a number of principles identified in his comments on the
Draft Environmental Impact Statement. Specifically:

– he questioned the BLM’s decision not to formally consult under the Endangered Species Act;
– the lack of information on global warming effects;
– protection of municipal water intakes; and
– potential recreation use conflicts with private property owners.

He also stated a belief that there will be insufficient support for plan implementation at the
Congressional level and fears needed appropriations would not be available. The Governor’s
political ploy aims to delay implementation of the WOPR until the new Administration can block
it upon taking office.

The WOPR’s final plan calls for setting over half of the 2.1 million acres of timberland aside for
endangered species. Further, no harvest of any timber over 160 years of age would take place
for the first 15 years so that further assessments of spotted owl populations can be carried out.
The Governor’s decision is an assault on sustainable forestry and Oregon’s rural communities
where an additional 5,000 jobs would have been created under the new plan.

Ironically, the Governor’s letter indicates general support for the 502 million board foot annual
harvest level and the associated generation of approximately 65 percent of the historic O&C Act
county timber receipt funding. With the latest – and likely last – extension of the Secure Rural
Schools coming in 2011, the Governor’s attempted obstruction should be of particular concern in
rural Oregon.

Under the BLM’s planning rules, the State Director must determine whether or not to accept the
Governor’s recommendations and communicate his decision to the Governor.
AFRC has expressed disappointment and frustration that the Governor would play politics with a
balanced plan that took 5 years of collaborative effort to complete.

Support AFRC here.

Disclaimer: Articles featured on Oregon Report are the creation, responsibility and opinion of the authoring individual or organization which is featured at the top of every article.