News Briefs: Spray Plans Raise Concerns | Fair Hires New Top Dog | County Funds Timber Lobby | Mark Rey Warns Enviros at Conference | Oregon Corporate Taxes Rank 2nd Lowest | Activist Alert | Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule |
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Happening People: Scott Lubbock
Spray Plans Raise Concerns
A proposed aerial spray to kill off gypsy moths would cover 626 acres and 1,200 to 1,500 homes with a bacteria called Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki (Btk). The Oregon Department of Agriculture says it’s a safe biological insecticide, but local group Oregon Toxics Alliance (OTA) as well as neighbors living in the proposed spray area around Old Dillard Road in south Eugene aren’t so sure. They say that Btk could have health implications for the people, parks and streams in south Eugene and are proposing meetings with city, county and state officials to discuss the spray.
|Female gypsy moth|
Barry Bai, an entomologist with the ODA, says the decision was made to spray after the two gypsy moths that were found in a yard in 2007 became seven moths in 2008. “Growing from two to seven in a year indicates is that it’s a breeding population,” says Bai.
Gypsy moths are an invasive species that hitch rides to Oregon with travelers and people moving from the Northeast, where the species was accidentally introduced from Europe and Asia. The larva eat leaves and needles of soft and hardwood trees, according to the U.S. Forest Service which says infestations can kill up to 20 percent of trees in a forest.
Bai says a medical study done from 1985-1988 during a gypsy moth eradication of 220,000 acres in Lane County indicated that the spray “did not cause any people to become sick.”
But Lisa Warnes of Southeast Neighbors says, “This organism is a bacteria, and the fine particles can find their way into your lungs and intestines and grow,” and she says studies in California, Canada and New Zealand have shown adverse health effects.
According to the ODA homepage, the Lane County study indicated that of the people who reported becoming sick after the spray, 58 of them showed a positive culture for Btk in their urine, throat or wound. The ODA says, “In 55 of these instances, it was determined that Btk was probably a contaminant of the culture, not the cause of illness.”
Bai says the ODA if people do think they are sick after the spray, they should call the state and county health hotlines, because if people get sick “we would like to know.” He says, “We don’t want to put people in jeopardy; we’re citizens, too.”
Lisa Arkin of OTA says just because Btk is an organic compound, it doesn’t mean it is safe. “Organic doesn’t mean it’s a good thing,” she says. “Arsenic is organic.”
Arkin says proposed Btk sprays in California have been called off due to worries about the heath effects of the bacteria. The unknown ingredients in the solution Btk is mixed with in order to be sprayed are a concern as well. She wants to see ODA look into other methods of control and eradication such as releasing sterile moths. “Btk should be a last resort. It has never been approved for use over human populated areas,” she says.
She says that the studies show that Btk lingers in human nasal passages for up to nine hours after a spray. According to Bai, the Oregon Department of Health says people should stay indoors for 30 minutes after a Btk spray. The label for the spray, brand name Foray 48, says people should stay indoors for four hours after a spray.
Warnes says the 626-acre area in the proposed spray zone includes parks, homes and the headwaters of Amazon Creek, and that other caterpillars such as those of butterfly species can be killed by Btk. There will be a meeting between representatives of the Southeast Neighbors, the ODA, OTA and Mayor Piercy to discuss the spray on March 5. “We’re not objecting to treatment of the gypsy moth,” says Arkin. “I just don’t think that ODA has explored other options.”
The public comment period on the spray ends March 13. For more information on the proposed spray, go to oregontoxics.org, and to www.oregon.gov/oda/plant — Camilla Mortensen
Fair Hires New Top Dog
|Marc Hinz of the Oregon Country Fair|
The Oregon Country Fair has hired a new executive director following a national search. Marc Hinz will coordinate community outreach, fund-raising and program development, taking the top job occupied for many years by retired General Manager Leslie Scott. Former Assistant Manager Charlie Ruff has been named operations manager and will continue to coordinate the logistics of the annual three-day event in Veneta.
Hinz, 38, is the founder of Kayak Tillamook County, a workers cooperative of former loggers, commercial fishermen and educators. Previously, he was executive director of the Oregon Energy Coordinators Association, a nonprofit working to develop and provide better energy solutions for Oregon’s low-income households.
The 40th annual OCF this year will be July 10-12. The fair features more than 350 craft and food booths annually and was visited by more than 46,000 people in 2008.
County Funds Timber Lobby
Lane County has given $700,000 to a timber industry lobbying group to push for radical increases in old-growth clearcuts in the name of all county citizens, according to the environmental group Oregon Wild.
Oregon Wild calculates that Lane County, supposedly desperately strapped for cash for more than a decade, has given almost $700,000 in membership dues and fees to the Association of O&C Counties (AOCC) overthe past 15 years.
The AOCC clearcut lobbying is not in the financial or environmental interests of county citizens, Oregon Wild argues in letters to the Lane County Board of Commissioners, “but only in the interests of the timber industry.” The environmental group urges the county to withdraw its funding for the “timber industry lobbying group” and dissociate itself from its “radical” logging positions.
While the “public strongly supports protection of mature & old-growth” forests, Oregon Wild said the AOCC takes the “extreme” and unrealistic position of wanting to return to old-growth logging without environmental laws protecting drinking water, recreation, livability, salmon, owls and other endangered species.
The AOCC called for going even beyond the Bush administration’s WOPR proposal to increase old-growth clearcutting seven-fold, Oregon Wild noted. The environmental group also noted AOCC’s recent “shocking proposal to sell off 1.2 million acres of ecologically valuable public forest lands.”
The extreme AOCC positions taken in the name of county citizens undermine the county’s relationships with Oregon’s governor and congressional delegation which mostly opposed the WOPR, Oregon Wild wrote.
The AOCC call to boost county timber payments with more logging would result in lowered and more unstable federal funding, Oregon Wild wrote. “Under the Secure Rural Schools initiative Lane County received about $88 million but would have received only about $6 million from timber receipts.” —Alan Pittman
Mark Rey Warns Enviros at Conference
Is former Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Mark Rey going to be leopard that changes its spots this year? During his tenure at the USDA managing the U.S.’s 156 national forests, Rey was known for logging them, not saving them. He was one of the key forces behind the Bush administration’s Healthy Forests Initiative (HFI) that many environmentalists say was a merely a plan to use the threat of forest fires to increase logging.
|Mark Rey at PIELC|
While at the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference last weekend, Rey spoke at a panel alongside Susan Jane Brown, a former natural resources counsel for Rep. Peter DeFazio, and now an attorney for the Western Environmental Law Center. Though foes in the areas of environmental legislation and litigation, Brown and Rey spoke comfortably and humorously, with Brown reassuring the audience she had won more of her lawsuits against Rey’s forest policies than she had lost. She also assured the environmental lawyers in the crowd that despite the new, hopefully more eco-friendly Obama administration, there would still be a lot of environmental litigation left over from Rey’s tenure. “Thanks to Mark, there’s no end to the work to be done,” she said.
During his portion of the session and after noting that his clean-cut appearance and suit made him “overdressed for the occasion,” Rey discussed the effects the recent election of Barack Obama stand to have on forest policy, an election he said in itself was “not transformative.” In contrast to the other panels that spoke hopefully of the new administration, Rey warned environmentalists that “time is of the essence for public lands bills” because with so many other pressing issues, such as the economy, public lands may not get the discussion time on the Senate floor that they need in order to pass.
When asked specifically about what he was most proud of during his tenure at the USDA by Andy Stahl of Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics, one of the many groups who has been fighting Rey’s forest policies in the courts, Rey said he was felt he left his department in better shape — he was responsible, he said, for the first “clean audit” in the USDA’s history. He also touted his work on the HFI as saving National Forests and the people who live near them from catastrophic wildfires, a claim that raised eyebrows in the audience of forest conservationists.
Brown and Rey both speculated on the possible effects of the Obama administration hiring environmentalists. Will environmental lawyers “go soft” on their lawsuits because they don’t want to sue their friends? Brown noted Rey was able to implement many of his policies through skillful negotiation and suggested that enviros “take a page out of Mark’s playbook — there are a lot of advantages to suit settling.”
After the conference, Rey a former timber lobbyist, continued to speak on topics that sound environmentally friendly, on Monday, March 2, he gave a talk at OSU called “The Spread of Cooperative Conservation as the Fourth Chapter of the American Conservation Experience,” and on March 3, his stimulus-package oriented topic was “The Growth of Private Markets from Ecosystem Services: A Potential New Revenue Stream to Support Conservation Work.” — Camilla Mortensen
EDITOR’S NOTE: Look for more coverage of the PIELC next week.
Oregon Corporate Taxes Rank 2nd Lowest
Oregon’s state and local business taxes are second lowest in the nation, according to a study by an anti-tax corporate association.
The study by the Council On State Taxation (COST), an association of 600 corporations lobbying for lower taxes, found that Oregon tied for second lowest business taxes in the nation as a share of the state economy.
Oregon’s state and local business taxes were 3.7 percent of gross state product compared to a national average of 4.9 percent, according to COST. By comparison, Washington state was at 5.5 percent.
With Oregon looking at closing schools early and packing more kids in classrooms, the study has lead to calls for increasing Oregon’s rock-bottom business taxes. The Oregon Center for Public Policy estimated that the state could raise $1.6 billion in revenue and still have an average business tax burden.
OCPP also noted that the corporate study found Oregon’s businesses got the second highest bang for the buck in the ratio of direct business services to business taxes paid. —Alan Pittman
• A public forum on “Burning Forests for Electricity and Liquid Fuels” is planned for 6:30 to 8:30 pm Thursday, March 5, at Harris Hall, 8th and Oak in Eugene, co-sponsored by Cascadia’s Ecosystem Advocates (eco-advocates.org) and SustainEugene.org Presenters include Mark Robinowitz on “Peak Forests and the Electric Power Grid”; David Monk on “Air Pollution From Forest Biofuels”; and Samantha Chirillo on “Dispelling Myths: Forest Biofuels Impact on Forests & Climate.”
• Donations are still needed for Project Homeless Connect March 6 at the Fairgrounds. The one-day, one-stop event provides critical services and basic necessities to people who are homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless. Guests are offered free onsite services including medical exams, dental checkups, vision care, hot meals, haircuts and basic provisions. Contacts: Sophia McDonald at 682-4614, or Pearl Wolfe at 556-4428. Needed items include hats, gloves, socks, coats, sleeping bags, backpacks, children’s clothing, canes, crutches and personal hygiene products. Donations are being accepted at St. Vincent de Paul stores in Eugene, Springfield and Florence. Items should be labeled “Project Homeless Connect.”
• The Cascadia Wildlands Project will be leading an all-day hike into the proposed Devils Staircase Wilderness, Saturday, March 7, and also Saturday, April 4. The first hike is a moderate trek through wild old-growth forest on BLM land that ends at Wassen Creek. The second, difficult hike is to Devil’s Staircase waterfall. RSVP and find out more details by contacting Dave at 689-7189 or email email@example.com
• The Climate Crisis Working Group is holding a public forum, “Legislative Action for Climate Protection,” at 7 pm Wednesday, March 11, at Harris Hall, 8th and Oak. Legislators and community leaders will discuss planned climate legislation. UO law professor Mary Wood will moderate. Speakers include Will Shaver and Matt McRae from the city of Eugene, Lane County Commissioner Rob Handy, Karmen Fore from Rep. DeFazio’s office, Dan Whelan from Sen. Merkley’s office, Jake Weigler of Healthy Climate Partnership and Dan Galpern of Western Environmental Law Center, who will discuss Obama’s work.
• A number of green building events are now listed online at www.eugene-or.gov including a technical presentation on “High Performance Homes” at noon Tuesday, March 10 at the Eugene Library (RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org); and a workshop on “Creating a Green Home” with architect Michael Klement from 9 to 11 am Saturday, March 14, at HBA of Lane County, 2053 Laurel St. in Springfield. Cost is $20. For info, contact email@example.com
Lane Area Herbicide Spray Schedule
• Near Cheshire, Low Pass, Horton, Blachly, Triangle Lake and Greenleaf: Weyerhaeuser (744-4600) will aerially spray 320 acres near Long Tom, Congdon, Fish, and Lake creeks with 2,4-D, Velpar, Oust XP, and sulfometuron methyl, and other herbicides plus Crop Oil and Foam Buster adjuvants starting March 6 (#50113).
• Near Jackson-Marlow Road: L & B Reforestation (929-2840) will ground spray for Transition Management Inc. (484-6706) on 58 acres with Clopyralid herbicide plus Brush and Basal Oil adjuvants starting March 5 (#50109).
Compiled by Jan Wroncy, Forestland Dwellers: 342-8332, forestlanddwellers.org
• Some local small businesses continue thriving while bigger companies like Monaco Coach are crashing. Turtle Mountain LLC of Eugene has announced that its organic coconut milk product sales are expanding nationwide. Sales were up 30 percent in 2008 and continue to grow this winter. The company has gone from 20 to 90 employees in the last few years, including a Springfield plant. We hear Raw Dog Leather is doing well. Kate Kubicek owns the small biz that sells Eugene-made custom dog leashes, collars and toys for pets (www.rawdogleather.com). Two new businesses at WestTown on 8th have opened, adding more life to downtown: the Studio West Fine Art Gallery and Glass Blowing Studio, and Jeremy Covert Studio. Receptions for the artists were held Feb. 27.
• PeaceHealth recently announced $10 million in expense cutbacks, but the medical giant is also committed to spending $20 million toward a $29.8 million new hospital at Friday Harbor on the affluent San Juan Island in Washington state. As recently as Jan. 20 the Journal of the San Juans newspaper reported that contract negotiations had been “finalized,” but were awaiting approval from local hospital district authorities and the PeaceHealth board in Bellevue, Wash. But we hear from Jenny Ulum at PeaceHealth that “no final decisions have been made regarding the San Juan project.” The San Juan paper back in June reported that PeaceHealth was prepared to “assume all financial risk as well as management responsibilities.”
Why build a hospital on San Juan Island? The island currently has only an aging and small clinic, forcing many residents to seek medical care on the mainland. Profits from the new hospital would reportedly be used to defray the costs of providing health care to low-income patients. But are there many? Struggling people can be found everywhere, but the average price of homes on the market in Friday Harbor is about $644,000, while home prices statewide in Washington run about $266,000.
• In PR spinning its Springfield EmX clearcut, LTD has lost more than a forest of trees on Pioneer Parkway. It’s lost the public trust. Now, when LTD proposes even more controversial bus rapid transit lines through Eugene neighborhoods, who will trust they are telling the whole truth? That’s a shame. Eugene desperately needs BRT to work for its livability and the environment. It’s too bad the PR people at LTD couldn’t be up front and see the reputation forest for the spin.
•The Register-Guard is publishing a series of large ads touting its advertising reach, compared to other local media. The daily paper claims to have more 18-to-34-year-old readers than Eugene Weekly, but the ads are deceptively cherry-picking the data. Media Audit reports that the R-G only beats us in that category by comparing readers who look at any one section of the R-G once a week with readers who pick up at EW once a month. The radio and TV comparisons are equally suspect. As R-G Publisher Tony Baker told City Club last month, the paper has given up on the 18-to-34 demographic. “We’re not going to chase them,” he said. “They’re not reading newspapers.” Actually, about 38,000 of EW’s 89,600 readers in Lane County are in that younger age group. The average age of EW readers is just under 40, while the average age of R-G readers is about 49.
“I’m always writing. I’ve written ritualistically since age 6 or 7,” says Scott Lubbock, who grew up in Alamo, Calif., population 400, and studied writing at Stanford. His fourth book of poetry, On the Way to Water, was published in 2004. “I went into education almost by accident,” says Lubbock, an antiwar activist in the ’70s who stayed on in school for a master’s, then taught English and special ed in Bay Area high schools for 21 years. After moving to Eugene in 1990, he was certified in counseling and spent nine years as a drug and alcohol counselor. “I did a lot of reading, learning about different counseling models,” he says. “I had an image of how people learned by listening to stories around a campfire. I wanted to be a listener.” In 2000, Lubbock quit his job, rented an office, and opened All Ears, the Listening Place. “The other thing different about my model is that I charged a minimum $5,” he says. “Beyond that, clients pay what they want. I never ask how much they earn.” Begun as a one-year experiment, All Ears has lasted nine years, though the fee is now $10. With Lubbock in the photo is Yes the Bear, also an excellent listener and a faithful companion to Lubbock and his wife, Maggie.