Portland, Ore – In the wake of a shocking Oregon Public Broadcasting story revealing that a Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) report was silenced by Big Timber and Oregon’s State Forester, conservation and citizen groups are calling on Governor Brown to provide the accountability and transparency promised when she took office. In a letter signed by more nearly a dozen groups, Governor Brown is asked to replace State Forester, Peter Daughtery, direct DEQ to finalize and release the report, and support comprehensive reform to the outdated laws that are not protecting the water quality of Oregonians. “Mr. Daugherty’s defense of business-as-usual logging practices is exactly opposite the kind of leadership we need to modernize Oregon’s antiquated Forest Practices Act and make it an effective vehicle for rural economic prosperity” said John Talberth, President and Senior Economist for the Center for Sustainable Ecomony “Under Peter Daugherty’s tenure it is clear that Oregonians can expect no relief from the ravages of clearcutting and chemical spraying and the economic damages these practices cause in the form of landslides, loss of fish and wildlife habitat, and contamination of drinking water supplies.”
State Forester, Peter Daughtery’s response and effective suppression of the DEQ report demonstrated that he is working to shield Big Timber from liability for the damages they cause rather than hold them accountable. His claims go so far as to say that clearcutting on steep slopes has nothing to do with increased risk of landslides, which is simply untrue. According to David Montgomery, professor of geomorphology at the University of Washington and author of Growing A Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life “It is long past time when it is credible to argue over whether clearcutting increases landslide rates off of steep slopes, and high time to forthrightly address what to do about it”. Daughtery has betrayed the public trust and ignored sound science, putting clean water and Oregon’s citizens at risk.
The report details how outdated logging techniques are putting cool and clean water at risk in 50 public water systems and should be released; Oregonians deserve to know that their water quality is being impacted. Industry interests and their friends within government agencies successfully canned a report from DEQ that raises significant concerns about how weak logging rules are allowing continued degradation of Oregon’s clean source waters. DEQ should complete and release the report without the undue influence of the State Forester and Big Timber’s concerns about their industry bottom-line.
Oregon coastal communities are already seeing adverse impacts to their drinking water and Big Timber and Department of Forestry are denying the evidence that our laws are not protecting clean water and healthy rivers. “Between the years 2003 and 2013, 82% of the watershed, including its headwaters, was clearcut and then sprayed numerous times with pesticides.” According to Nancy Webster, a citizen of Rockof Rockaway Beach Citizens for Watershed Protection “During the time this extensive logging took place, the drinking water for Rockaway Beach had more violations of EPA allowable limits for trihalomethanes (THM’s), a known carcinogen, than any other community on the Oregon Coast. Trihalomethanes are an undesirable byproduct of the reaction between the disinfection chemicals that are used to treat drinking water and organic material found in the water, especially in turbid water.”
Oregon has the weakest rules on the west coast and those weak laws are paving the way for the degradation of public drinking water sources. Pacific Rivers and Center for Sustainable Economy are currently working to draft comprehensive reform to the Oregon Forest Practice Act to update the practices that are contaminating public water systems. . “Oregon’s laws to protect clean water from the impacts of industrial clearcutting are woefully inadequate,” said John Kober, Executive Director of Pacific Rivers “we hope that the Governor will fulfill her promise of government transparency and work to update laws and agency leadership to better protect rivers and clean water”.
Assistant Administrator for Fisheries
NOAA Regional Administrator for West Coast Fisheries