Statement from Sean Stevens, Executive Director of Oregon Wild:
Oregon has long prided itself on its environmental pedigree, touting its conservation leadership. This perception, some might say mythology, that is loudly proclaimed by our politicians at every available moment was dealt a heavy blow today when Democratic Treasurer Tobias Read joined with Republican Secretary of State Dennis Richardson to sell off the Elliott State Forest. The final decision was kept open by Governor Kate Brown, who has reversed course in the last week and come out strongly for a public option for the Elliott.
But a greater problem remains.
Oregon Democrats like Tobias Read have for years run campaigns around their environmental bona fides, only to continue to allow the state to fall further and further behind when it comes to environmental protections. Today’s vote underscores that when it comes to timber interests and public lands, Oregon Democrats are willing to look the other way. Like coal is to West Virginia, clearcut logging is to Oregon.
Combined, Read and Richardson received $13,000 from the logging interests trying to purchase the Elliott State Forest, not to mention tens of thousands more from the industry at large.
Elsewhere in the West, it is GOP legislators pushing for public lands transfers and privatization. Oregon is unique in this regard where it is Democrats like Tobias Read voting to sell off old growth forests and Rep. Brian Clem holding a state legislature hearing Thursday on a Bundy-style bill to transfer national public lands to the state.
Oregonians treasure our old growth forests, our wild salmon runs, and clean healthy rivers. Politicians who vote to sacrifice these values must be held responsible. In the coming months and years, Oregon Wild will be working diligently to remind Oregonians of Treasurer Tobias Read’s vote to sell off the Elliott State Forest.