Chandra LeguePhoto by Todd Cooper

Forestry Panel Addresses Controversy

GreenLane brings together different perspectives on the timber industry

GreenLane Sustainable Business Network will hold a forum on sustainable forestry April 12 to address last year’s controversy around seating a timber company representative on the environmental group’s board.

The panel grew out of a contentious board election in November 2017, at which Casey Roscoe, senior vice president of public relations for the Seneca timber companies, joined GreenLane’s board.

At the time, several members threatened to leave, including Shawn Donille of Mountain Rose Herbs, who called Seneca’s joining of the GreenLane board “greenwashing.”

At the April forum, GreenLane seeks to facilitate a civil dialogue “to explore different sides of the issues, challenges and problems faced by forest industry businesses, environmentalists and scientists.”

Unlike GreenLane’s usual lunch meetings, “Clear Cut or Not? Understanding Sustainable Forestry” will be at the Eugene Downtown Public Library. It features four panelists representing science, industry, environment and forestry perspectives and will be moderated by Tree Bressen.

“This discussion is intended to help address the concerns some members had when a representative of Seneca was elected to the GreenLane Board of Directors,” the panel announcement says.

GreenLane board chair Robin Forster says a goal of the panel is to “give everyone a voice.” She says in terms of membership, the group accepts members from all levels of sustainability. “We are not the police of greenness.”

Forster points to Fred May of Brothers Cleaning Services, which she says was not a “green” business when it joined, but “because of coming and learning more, they have moved along the sustainability journey.”

Chandra LeGue, Western field coordinator for environmental group Oregon Wild, will represent the environmental perspective on the panel. She was on sabbatical during the brouhaha, but says the nonprofit allowed its GreenLane membership to expire.

“There is a lot of misinformation out there from the timber industry,” LeGue says, adding that the timber industry has a big budget to promote itself. She points to Oregon Wild’s own “Clearcut Oregon” campaign, which has featured a “Welcome to Oregon, home of the clear-cut” ad on the side of a Portland Tri-met train. The campaign says the “clearcutting industry” is the top emitter of carbon pollution that causes global warming in Oregon.

Fellow panelist Todd Payne is the CEO of Seneca and will represent industry. He tells Eugene Weekly, “This panel shows our willingness to come to the table, share our respective expertise, help educate and maybe find some common ground.  We are encouraged by GreenLane’s mission of sustainability and look forward to sharing our experience and values during the panel discussion.”

Mountain Rose Herbs’ Donille is not convinced. “The extractive industries have made a mess of our landscape and have compromised the livability of rural Oregonians and organic operations throughout the state,” he says.

Donille calls for looking to “truly sustainable operators in Lane County that have proven to be a genuine economic power for Oregon and a champion for the good of our neighbors and community.”

He adds, “Clearcutting, aerial spraying and monocrop forestry is the antithesis of a sustainable or green business model.”

LeGue says industrial logging has contributed to climate change, harmed endangered species and negatively affected drinking water.

Seneca’s Roscoe says she is excited to be part of GreenLane. She thinks, as a result, that others are joining GreenLane who would not have done so before, including a fifth-generation grass-seed famer. “It’s absolutely about sustainability,” she says. “Everybody approaches that work differently.”

The other panelists are Mark Miller, senior forester, Trout Mountain Forestry, representing forestry; and Lauren Grand, a forestry and natural resources extension agent with Oregon State University, representing the scientific perspective.

GreenLane’s “Clear Cut or Not? Understanding Sustainable Forestry” is 11:30 am to 1:30 pm Thursday, April 12, in the Bascom-Tykeson Room in the Downtown Eugene Public Library. Cost is free; bring your lunch.