Managing forests locally consensus of Healthy Forests forum
A bevy of politicians, public safety officials and public representatives came to a consensus today that forests need to be managed locally during a forum held by the organization Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities.
Several representatives of local organizations spoke of how lost revenue due to the federal government’s control of roughly 70 percent of the lands in Josephine County and their management of forestlands and has affected the community.
Jennifer Phillippi, co-owner of the now closed Rough and Ready Mill in Cave Junction, said her sawmill laid off 90 individuals in April due to the lack of available timber. She said litigation has stalled the harvest of timber sales for years and her family recently lost a million-and-a-half board feet to fire that could have been fully harvested last year.
Sheriff Gil Gilbertson says his office is unable to respond to approximately 30 to 35 emergency calls a day. Gilbertson said we are the greatest nation in the world but, “I’ve seen better law enforcement in third world countries,” speaking of time he served in the military in Bosnia and Kosovo.
Senator Herman Baertschiger, who has worked in the forest industry for decades, said, “We have too many tons per acre of available fuels for fire in our forests.” He said forest management is the key to making our forests healthy and reducing wildfire risk.
Walden finished the forum by saying the input from local officials and representatives energized him and the time for action, as pointed out by Mayor Daren Fowler, is now and that the governor needs to support forest management reform when dealing with the federal government.