Something is rotten in the state of Oregon. We all enjoy and are proud of our green state and our green and healthy county. Visitors from all over the world love it.
We all know that logging has a long tradition in Oregon and is one of our important industries. We all have seen through a veil of trees along the roads that clearcutting is extensive. We might not like it, but we all have accepted this because it is the basis for jobs and income. We even have been accepting that mostly big corporations and landowners are reaping the fruit of this wealth.
What is less known — and has little media attention — are the extent and methods of the logging operations. In order to maximize profits: • They log so intensively that big areas look like a desert. • They replant trees, but only as Douglas Fir monocultures (which is bad for our habitat eco-systems and species). • They use pesticides on an industrial scale to kill weeds and brush to foster faster growth of trees. • Pesticides used are not always tested, and their mix is considered a trade secret. • They use the worst form of pesticide application, which is aerial spraying by helicopter. And that, in my opinion, is not acceptable and should be banned. Particularly in Lincoln County, where huge areas of corporate land directly neighbor or surround our coastal communities like Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, Newport, Waldport and Yachats, aerial spraying is a danger.
Prevailing winds and sometimes pilot errors make it impossible to observe property limits when applying aerial spraying. These practices on private land cause substantial damage to all of us — our health, our children, our wildlife, water, soil, air and pets. There are endless well-documented reports that prove just that.
Unfortunately, those worst off are the families who dwell in rural areas and suburbs, who are often directly exposed to sprayings. Birth defects, various forms of cancer, coughing, skin eczema, dying goat-herds, reduced/ defunct bird and bee populations have been the results. But we all are affected by indirect exposures.
It is rarely contested that landowners can legally do what they want on their properties. We cannot let this be where neighboring residents are affected. It should be changed. Why is it that aerial spraying has been banned on federal land for 30 years?
If we can restrict smoking, why can we not restrict these poisonous pesticides? How can we have fluoridation on the ballot but not vote on aerial spraying? As for complaints by citizens, they are either not heard or denied for lack of proof. Bans have been discussed, but end up being renegotiated for what is called “risk-assessment.” Existing regulations are widely written by the interested industries themselves. Control is almost non-existent.
Most concerned groups and individual residents have capitulated in view of the power, money and lobbying of big corporations. Changes, on a national or statewide level, are not expected. Nothing will happen unless citizens insist on their constitutional rights to “peace, safety and happiness,” and get engaged and organized in their own communities.
Juergen Eckstein is a resident of South Beach.
Newport News Times “Viewpoint”, June 10, 2016. Page A8