Habitat Conservation Plan Testimony
This is the full testimony submitted to the Oregon Board of Forestry at their March 8, 2023 meeting in Corvallis. An abbreviated 2-minute version was presented live in the auditorium by Executive Director David Reid. See that testimony here.
I’m David Reid, representing the 600-member Astoria-Warrenton Area Chamber of Commerce and I’ll be testifying in opposition to the currently proposed Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP).
Commissioners, you have a lot of responsibility and a lot of power in your hands. Today, you have the power to protect habitats and to destroy livelihoods. The good news is that it is entirely possible to do the former without doing the latter, just not with the current HCP. There are other HCP’s that will protect fish and wildlife without doing the extraordinary damage to jobs, communities, and families that we all know the current one will do.
You have heard from me and many others about the very real and inevitable economic and financial damage that will result from implementing this HCP. Today, I want to know the human damage. I want you to know the volunteer firefighter who just wants to serve her neighbors and help accident victims. She’s already using outdated equipment bought with the shoestring budget her fire district gets under the current timber revenues.
I want you to know the CNA at the nursing home who cares for her own community members in their senior years but whose job partially relies on timber revenue.
I want you to know the family who have leveraged and invested everything in a log truck to run a family microbusiness, only to have the opportunity vanish overnight. And their kids who once had the security of a livable family income but now have to watch mom and dad struggle to make the next mortgage payment, let alone the next truck payment.
I want you to know the assault victim who calls 911 only to be told that police help is more than an hour away because of cuts to rural law enforcement.
I want you to know the student who attends a rural school that miraculously had abundant resources thanks to timber revenue but suddenly finds himself in yet another underfunded, understaffed school, or, worse yet, being bussed an hour each way to attend a school far from home. A school that itself is facing cuts due to diminished timber revenue.
I want you to know the transit system employee who has been striving to reduce carbon emissions by growing the rural bus routes but now sees funding for their work cut, ironically in the name of the environment.
Or the kid who just wants to play soccer in an after-school league offered by the parks and rec district.
None of these people you just met are imaginary. None of these stories are hypothetical. Each of these bad outcomes and more will come true unless we can agree on an HCP that takes their lives into account. We don’t have to trade environmental protection for human needs – there is a way for us to get both, but it will require involving the stakeholders in the plan and not dismissing rural voices as somehow biased or uninformed.
I don’t believe that anyone set out to create a rural disaster scenario, nor do I believe that the current plan would have gone forward had the harvest numbers we saw revised in January been estimated earlier in the process. But we know them now. We know what this will mean for workers, small business, our County, service districts and kids. We know. So, let’s fix this while there is still time. Let’s fix this while we can still protect the natural environment without crushing the human one.
Stop this HCP and either choose a better option from ones already formulated or, better yet, let’s start over with all parties at the table.