News Briefs: BLM Backing Off Logging Old-Growth? | Twenty Years at Mount Pisgah | Solar Jobs See Cloudy Forecast | Bike Riding Drops, or Not | OLCV Scorecard Rates Lawmakers | Activist Alert | Lane Area Herbicide Schedule | War Dead | Corrections/Clarifications |
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
BLM BACKING OFF LOGGING OLD-GROWTH?
Fall Creek, long the site of treesits and logging protests (see EW 6/11) looks like it’s getting a reprieve from a proposed BLM clearcut, as are other proposed timber sales in Oregon, thanks to an Obama administration change in focus from clearcuts to thinning projects.
The Fall Creek site, an area of mature and old-growth forest near popular fishing and hiking spots an hour outside Eugene, was the site this summer of a treesit organized by Cascadia Summer. The area was also targeted for litigation by a separate local conservation group, Cascadia Wildlands. The site was a proposed sale under the now-dead Western Oregon Plan Revisions (WOPR), says Dan Kruse, legal director for CW. But even with the WOPR out of the picture, the site was still slated for logging under the Northwest Forest Plan, which would have clearcut the site as well, but with a larger buffer between the logging and nearby waterways and a few more trees left standing in the clearcut site.
Kruse says this isn’t the only timber sale to be put on hold. Sales in the Coos Bay and Salem district BLMs have also been canceled or suspended.
According to Doug Huntington, the Eugene District BLM spokesman, the Eugene District’s decision to “postpone indefinitely” the timber sale planning at Fall Creek was a local decision, “based on some of the direction we have had from this administration.”
Huntington says the Eugene BLM will look into thinning projects, where smaller trees are thinned out and many are left standing, “sales that would not be controversial.”
The Eugene BLM, Huntington says, “will try to move forward with sales that will not be taken to court and not be held up by litigation or protest.”
Kruse welcomes the switch from clearcuts to thinning, which he says “allows people to work in the woods without the agencies getting sued in the process.”
Trip Jennings of Cascadia Summer says the activist group “couldn’t be happier” about the Fall Creek area’s logging reprieve, “but in the face of potentially catastrophic climate change and rapid decline in spotted owl populations,” he still urges the Obama administration and federal agencies to stop all old-growth logging. — Camilla Mortensen
TWENTY YEARS AT MOUNT PISGAH
The Friends of Buford and Mt. Pisgah are celebrating 20 years of work at the popular recreation area on Oct. 8. The group has been improving the trails and habitat at the park since 1980, including the ever-popular hike to the summit.
The 2,300 acre Howard Buford Recreation Area, a Lane County park, is stewarded by the Friends of Buford Park & Mt. Pisgah and by a separate organization, the Mt. Pisgah Arboretum. Friends of Buford and Mt. Pisgah care for the 2,100 acres outside the arboretum’s smaller 200 acre section.
The area, popularly known simply as Mt. Pisgah has a diversity of native habitats in a relatively small area. According to Chris Orsinger, executive director of FBMP, among the native habitats the group has been working to restore are upland prairie and oak savanna, wetland prairie, wet floodplain forests, river backwaters and grand fir forests. The group uses seeds and plants from the native plan nursery it has at the park. At one point Orsinger says, the whole area was used for grazing. Now cattle are only grazed on a very small portion of Buford.
These native habitats, once restored, provide food and housing for many of Oregon’s native species, from Oregon’s state bird, the western meadowlark in the oak trees, to threatened western pond turtles in the waters. The black cottonwoods volunteers have been planting in the floodplains give homes to great blue herons, which have their rookeries in those trees. Their habitat has been in a decline, Orsinger says, due to the reduction of flooding that is the result of dam building and manmade changes to the watershed.
Orsinger says the anniversary celebration’s theme centers on the idea that restoration efforts on the land— pulling weeds, planting native seeds — heals not just the land, but the spirit. Carolyn Scott Kortge, author of The Spirited Walker, will give a talk about her experiences healing through walking. After being diagnosed with cancer, the hike up Mt. Pisgah’s summit trail became one of her daily healing walks.
The celebration, which will be at 6:30 pm Oct. 8 at the Veteran’s Memorial building will also feature music by the Nettles. Cost is $5 to $25. For more information on the celebration, or on volunteering with the FBMP, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 344-8350 or go to www.bufordpark.org — Camilla Mortensen
SOLAR JOBS SEE CLOUDY FORECAST
News that the South Korean Uni-Chem company could buy the closed Hynix plant for a solar panel factory and hire a thousand or more workers may sound great in the down economy. But the prospect of actual local jobs remains unclear with many unanswered questions:
• How does a company that manufactures leather goods — one of the world’s oldest low-tech products — have the expertise to branch out into high-tech solar cells and panels?
• How does a company with a reported $75 million in annual sales spend as much as $1 billion on a new factory?
• Why would investors or banks give so much money to this particular company to branch out into a highly competitive high-tech field it has little experience with?
Even if the factory is actually built, it’s unclear how long the jobs would last.
Because of low wages and little regulation, most products consumed in the world are made in China or other undemocratic and/or third world countries. It’s unclear why solar panels would be any different.
Already, China has increased its solar market share about 10-fold in the last three years, The New York Times reported last month. Trade publications describe solar manufacturing as a chaotic, crowded, free-for-all right now with allegations that the Chinese government is subsidizing dumping below-cost products to seize market share from western competitors. Already, panel prices have fallen in half in the last year.
Asian manufacturers may try to get around anti-dumping regulations by building in the U.S., or not. Anti-dumping regulations are difficult to enforce, requiring proof of below-marginal-cost sales and evidence that a U.S. company is losing money because of them.
U.S. computer memory chip maker Micron spent years pursuing an anti-dumping case against Hynix (then Hyundai). The case may have been a factor in the Korean corporation’s decision to build its short-lived factory in Eugene. But those jobs soon moved back to lower-wage facilities in China and Korea.
Short-lived jobs can be worse in some ways than no jobs. People who move here for the work will be left burdening local unemployment roles and social services. Taxpayers subsidize expensive infrastructure for the factories that wasn’t needed.
Some federal stimulus money includes a provision that could block the money going to solar cells from China because of its lack of fair labor standards. But the clean energy stimulus money is limited, competitive and supposed to be used up before Uni-Chem would start production.
It’s unclear if any future federal stimulus for solar would pass and if it did include the labor standard. The U.S. hasn’t protected the millions of other American manufacturing jobs lost to China.
Asian companies could also try to evade dumping and buy-American laws by manufacturing the solar panels almost entirely in China and then just putting on some wires and trim in America. But it appears unlikely that would produce much in the way of local wages as that would undermine the point of the tactic. — Alan Pittman
BIKE RIDING DROPS, OR NOT
Bike commuting in Eugene declined from 8.5 percent in 2007 to 8 percent in 2008, according to the American Community Survey (ACS), but it’s hard to tell if that means much.
The ACS reports a margin of error of 1.7 percent for its biking in Eugene number, making a half a percent change statistically insignificant. The U.S. Census Bureau does the ACS by sending forms to about one in 40 households in the nation.
In the past the ACS bike commute numbers have fluctuated wildly from 5.2 percent in 2006 to 8.5 percent in 2007. The 2007 number had a 2.1 percent margin of error.
More accurate historical numbers have come from the 10-year Census long form sent to one in six households. Those numbers show bike commuting declined in Eugene from 8 percent in 1980 to 5.5 percent in 2000.
The Census will do another count in 2010, but dumped the long form to save money. That leaves only the less accurate ACS survey for commute data. It’s difficult to tell how to compare the fluctuating ACS numbers with the 10-year Census numbers. ACS survey results on bike commuting could vary widely depending on the time of year the survey is conducted, for example.
To get more accurate data, Portland uses an extensive system of annual bike counts at 165 locations. The data there show a six-fold increase since 1991 in the percentage of commuters who across bridges by bicycle into downtown. — Alan Pittman
OLCV SCORECARD RATES LAWMAKERS
Lane County’s state lawmakers beat state averages with higher scores in the Oregon League of Conservation Voters’ 2009 Environmental Scorecard, released last week.
The OLCV assessment looks at how Oregon legislators voted on 21 key bills addressing clean energy, water management, transportation, land use and public health.
Earning 90 percent scores were Sen. Bill Morrisette, and Reps. Phil Barnhart, Paul Holvey and Nancy Nathanson. Not far behind were Sen. Floyd Prozanski at 79 percent, former Sen. Vicki Walker at 78 percent, former Rep. Chris Edwards at 86 percent and Rep. Terry Beyer at 71 percent.
“Lane County legislators know that their communities care about clean air and water, energy independence and a better legacy for our kids,” says Andy Maggi, OLCV Lane County organizer, in a press release. “We applaud our local representatives and senators for their work.”
Bringing up the rear was Rep. Bruce Hanna of Roseburg with a 10 percent rating. Hanna was included since parts of south Lane County are included in his House District 7. Likewise, Sen. Joanne Verger of Coos Bay was included. She earned a 70 percent in Senate District 5.
“More times than not, legislators represented the will of the vast majority of Oregonians, voting to protect public health, preserve fish and wildlife habitat, and take responsibility for making sure we pass on Oregon’s natural legacy to our grandchildren,” says Evan Manvel, OLCV legislative affairs director. “But despite significant progress, the science is clear that we’ve got much more work to do.”
More information can be found at www.olcv.org/scorecard
• Eugene’s Civilian Review Board will meet at 6 pm Thursday, Oct. 1, in the Bascom-Tykeson Room of the Eugene Public Library to conduct its review of the Ian Van Ornum Taser case from May 30, 2008. This is the CRB’s first “community impact case” and involves accusations of excessive force. The meeting is open to the public, but public comment on the case will not be allowed at this meeting. The agenda for the meeting can be found on the police auditor page of the city of Eugene’s website, or by doing an Internet search for “Eugene
police auditor,” or call Vicki Cox at
• The first meeting of the First Fridays Communities of Color Network (CCN) will be from 5:30 to 7 pm Friday, Oct. 2, in the Rock Garden on the second floor of the Lane County Public Service Building, 125 E. Eighth Ave., Eugene. The informal gathering will include food served by the MLK Jr. Culinary Arts program. The event will be sponsored each month by a different partner agency of the Diversity and Human Rights Consortium.
• LTD held an open house Sept. 29 on its various options for routing its future west Eugene EmX bus rapid transit lines. For those who missed this week’s open house, more information and satellite photo maps of the route options can be found at
www.ltd.org and comments can be emailed to email@example.com or call 682-6100.
• The Northwest Power & Conservation Council, the region’s official power planning agency, is currently seeking public comment on its draft Sixth NW Power & Conservation Plan, which assesses the region’s long-term electricity needs and identifies power sources to meet them with. More information at www.nwcouncil.org or send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
LANE AREA HERBICIDE SPRAY SCHEDULE
• Damage from gypsy moth spraying (SE Eugene)?: If you feel you or your family members were sickened, property contaminated, or your rights were violated by the forced exposure to the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s aerial spraying of the biological (and chemical) insecticide FORAY 48B during April and May, you need to file a Notice of Tort Claim against the state of Oregon no later than Monday, Oct. 26, in order to preserve your right to recover damages. For forms and information, go to forestlanddwellers.org/News/GypsyMothSpray/
Compiled by Jan Wroncy, Forestland Dwellers: 342-8332, www.forestlanddwellers.org
Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq began on March 20, 2003 (last week’s numbers in parentheses):
• 4,348 U.S. troops killed* (4,347)
• 31,510 U.S. troops injured* (31,501)
• 185 U.S. military suicides* (185)
• 1,123 U.S. contractors killed (accurate updates NA)
• 101,805 to 1.2 million civilians killed*** (101,608)
• $686.6 billion cost of war ($684.5 billion)
• $195.2 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($194.7 million)
• 844 U.S. troops killed* (835)
• 4,081 U.S. troops injured* (4,004)
• $227.9 billion cost of war ($227.3 million)
• $64.8 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($64.6 million)
* through September 28, 2009; source: icasualties.org; some figures only updated monthly
** sources: icasualties.org, defenselink.mil
*** highest estimate; source: iraqbodycount.org; based on confirmed media reports; other groups calculate civilian deaths as high as 655,000 (Lancet survey, 2006) to 1.2 million (Opinion Research Business survey, 2008)
In last week’s Slant column item about SNAFU possibly closing, we quoted Casey Mitchell as the owner, but the actual owner is Josh Keim, who also owns Café Lucky Noodle and Ring of Fire. Mitchell works as a DJ and promoter at SNAFU.
• The Eugene police auditor’s Civilian Review Board is scheduled to do its long-delayed, first full-on review of a community impact case this Thursday just after EW hits the streets (see Activist Alert). But the city has refused to say just what the review board will be actually reviewing. Huh? That’s right. Whether the police chief decided to discipline any officers involved in the Tasering of a peaceful environmental protester last May is a secret. It’s also a symptom of the wacky police oversight rules the Eugene mayor and City Council set up in defiance of two citywide votes for police accountability and transparency. Elected officials and the police union have long shown that they care more about keeping police misconduct secret than actually stopping it. We saw how well that worked when Eugene police officer Roger Magaña was out in uniform raping women.
• Looks like the clipboard gang wrangled more than enough signatures to put tax fairness before the voters next January. Two ballot measures will attempt to override the Legislature’s modestly higher taxes on corporations and Oregonians who can afford it. The big argument for blocking the tax hikes is to protect jobs in Oregon. But we heard from a local home health care worker who tells us, “If the tax fairness legislation does not [prevail], it will actually cost jobs.” Jewel Hall works for Senior and Disabled Services. “Before the tax fairness legislation, we were looking at extreme cuts to services, and in turn workers losing hours and jobs,” she says. She goes on to say that more seniors and the disabled will have to be institutionalized, “or their families will have to come up with the money to keep them in their homes.”
About 93 percent of the state’s budget goes directly to education, health care, human services and public safety (see www.defendoregon.org), which means not only social service workers are at risk. Add teachers and cops to the list.
• Former governor John Kitzhaber was in Eugene last week talking about what’s broken in our state government. He wants to be our chief executive again, due in large part to his frustrations: Kids in Oregon today are less likely than their parents to graduate from high school, and they will die younger. These disturbing trends, he tells us, are the result of our continuing to prop up obsolete education and health systems. He’s right. Our health care dollars support a bloated system rather than targeting improved health outcomes. Our education system invests little in the pre-school years that are so critical to keeping kids in school, and out of jail later in life. He also talked about how our energy dollars support an obsolete, fossil fuelbased transportation system. “Everybody loses under the status quo,” he says. “We’re on a trajectory of failure.”
What about the national health care debate? Kitzhaber doesn’t expect any significant reforms to come from “inside the Beltway,” but he is optimistic that his Oregon Health Plan could be expanded to become more of a “public option,” perhaps even as a regional demonstration project including Washington state.
When it comes to ideas, eloquence and experience, Kitzhaber has set the bar high. Now let’s see what Bill Bradbury and other governor candidates have to say. Bradbury is scheduled at City Club Oct. 30.
• Convicted eco-saboteur Jake Ferguson was interviewed on CNN this week, and it was irritating to watch. Ferguson didn’t have much to say, but Anderson Cooper trotted out the same old misnomers of “eco-terrorism” and “domestic terrorism,” leading viewers to link sabotage of property with the bloody acts of real terrorists. And CNN didn’t bother to check facts. The Earth Liberation Front (ELF) was talked about as though it were a real organization. It’s actually has no central leadership and no membership. And “The Family” was mentioned several times, even though the loose collaboration of activists didn’t call themselves that. For another view of Eugene’s eco-avengers, search our archives for our national award-winning “Flames of Dissent” series, and follow-up stories on the activists and their trials.
• We hear Corvallis radiation oncologist Dr. Michael Huntington has arrived in Washington, D.C., for a big rally this week. He’s been traveling cross-country with the “Mad as Hell Doctors” caravan. Along the way he has been quoted saying, “Americans aren’t getting the information they need to make an educated decision about health care. The reality is that a single-payer health care system has been working in other countries for decades and it can work here. But there’s so much misinformation, so much undue corporate influence, that the truth doesn’t penetrate.”