Families Furious Over Timber Sale

, Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Wed, May 15 2013 at 4:43 PM, Updated: Wed, May 15 2013 at 5:15 PM

Residents who live near a site that may soon be logged are upset. Wednesday morning they protested outside the Grants Pass Bureau of Land Management as Boise Cascade and the Swanson Group had a bidding war for the trees on a plot of land located near the Ken Rose neighborhood just outside downtown Cave Junction in Josephine County.

"I don't think they should be harvested for timber in this particular area," said Matthew Molyneaux, a resident near the site set to be logged.

Residents said they're worried about the potential for increased fire danger if dry underbrush is left behind. They're also concerned about their watershed.

"Their mandate is to protect watersheds and to protect rivers and streams and they're failing to do that," said Nina Horsley, another resident living near the site to be logged.

However, BLM officials disagree.

"We have hydrologists, we have fish people, we have botanists that have all worked through and examined what's been proposed and has a say in what's going to happen," began Allen Bollschweiler, Field Manager for the BLM's Grants Pass Resource Area.

"There's been a lot of work done to make sure the water is okay."

Bollschweiler said over the long haul...

"The timber sale overall will reduce the fire hazard, there will be a brief time when we harvest the timber there will be slash on the ground...it takes a while to dry."

That drying period is what some residents are concerned about...worried there may be a lack of oversight when it comes to cleaning up the left-over debris in a timely manner.

"All you're leaving is a dry tinder, fire prone forest. So for them to do that would literally put our neighborhood in danger," said Horsley.

Residents also pointed to an excerpt of a BLM document that noted there would be an increased fire hazard over the next five to 20 years.

However, Bollschweiler said that fire hazard isn't necessarily their doing.

"There have been requests by the people who live there to leave a visual barrier and if we leave that visual barrier, there's going to brush and what not. If we take that down, we get rid of the fire hazard."

Some residents who live just beyond the trees, said another concern if their trees are taken away? Criminals could drive up, see homes and target them.

"These homes were hidden well enough by the forest that nobody knew they were there until they passed," Horsley said.

Meantime, other groups in protest include K-S Wild, Cascadia Wildlands and Oregon Wild.

BLM Officials said the money from the timber sale will go directly to the county. Boise Cascade was the high bidder and will be paying more than $482,000 to harvest roughly two-million board feet of timber.

Residents said next, there may be an appeal of the timber sale and possibly a formal legal injunction filed.

What do you think? Sound off on our Facebook page and on Twitter, or leave a comment below.

About the Author

Christine Pitawanich

Christine Pitawanich was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, she received a master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York.

Christine also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Washington.

Before joining the NBC5 News team, she had the opportunity to file reports from Washington D.C. for WFFT FOX Ft. Wayne News in Indiana. Christine has also interned at KOMO-TV in Seattle.

Christine loves to ski, try new food and have fun in the outdoors.

Catch Christine anchoring weekdays on NBC 5 News at 5pm.

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