Friday, March 3, 2017

To the Oregon Ways and Means Committee

Thank you for coming to Tillamook.  My name is Dave Wells, I’m the president of the Forestry sub-Local SEIU 503.

I see choices ahead. Proposed reductions in funding for Stewardship Forester and Wildland Firefighting programs is a threat to our forests and more.  The choice as I see it is how increase revenue to make sure that does not happen.

Last year I saw a wildfire in Lane County that burned through acres of 15 year old trees.  All that these burned trees add to our Oregon is a tax loss and we won’t see the future benefit of living wage jobs and harvest taxes that support our schools and rural communities like Tillamook where I live.  Not every forest fire can be stopped but without an adequately staffed, fully functioning and coordinated wildfire fighting system the chance of the next big one becomes more real.  It is raining now but there always be an August, that’s when the Tillamook Burn started.

In Oregon we are connected to our forests. Sometimes they are in our back yard, sometimes we connect through our faucets at home.  Wisely in 1971 Oregon enacted the first in the nation Forest Practices Act because that connection between what we thought should be happening in our forests and what was happening was broken.  Our Stewardship Foresters work to prevent a rip from starting by ensuring timely reforestation and that water is clean by enforcing road maintenance and buffer strip requirements. Keep Oregon’s forest connection secure by maintaining Stewardship Foresters at their current staffing level.

It is all about choices, clean water, wildlife, and rural jobs.  I ask you to make the choice to increase revenue and keep Oregon green.