"Every Dollar Possible . . . No Matter Who Else Suffers"

This guest blog is from Francis Eatherington, winner of Oregon Wild's 2016 Tim Lillebo Wildlands Warrior Award,  it features her personal story of living amongst Oregon's industrial forestlands. Francis is a longtime forest activist, with a decades long history of fighting for Oregon's Forests, Watersheds, and Wildlife! 

Francis has good reason for concern, she has been documenting landslides from clearcuts (as shown here) for decades! 

I’ve been living near the banks of Dysert Creek for over 40 years on our 56-acres with a land collective, started in 1975. Most Douglas County properties either have a timber or livestock tax deferral, meaning the companies that own them pay less taxes than a regular homeowner. However, there is a third option: “Wildlife Conservation”, approved for us by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife service in 2007. We had to promise to be nice to our large, old oak trees, and promise not to harm Dysert Creek. We love our little wildlife habitat, especially since we have discovered what fun trail cams are, like peeking into a secret world.

I recently got a call from the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF). They wanted to send a forester out to our place to see if we were in danger of being killed by a landslide that could come out of a Seneca logging proposal above our home.

Well, they never used the word “kill” or “die”, but that is what Oregon’s “Landslides and Public Safety” regulations are about (OAR 629-623-000). Back in 1997 four people were killed by landslides out of clearcuts above them. ODF studied the situation and found that clearcuts increase the rate of landslides. If there is a house downstream, people could be killed, so they added the Landslides and Public Safety regulations in 2000.

Was this stream, now clearcut, once thriving wildlife habitat like Dysert Creek? 

Then last month we get this phone call from ODF telling us Seneca is proposing to clearcut a “High Landslide Hazard Location” in the headwaters of Dysert Creek, the beautiful creek that runs through our property. We welcomed the inspection and the forester measured the elevation of our house above the creek. “Good News!” He said. “Your building is 28 feet above the creek. You are not in danger unless you are under 20 feet above the creek”.

If we lived just 8 feet lower Seneca would have to leave 50% of the trees on the steepest part of their clearcut, for 10 years, and then they could take them too. As it is, it’s legal for Seneca to clearcut the High Landslide Hazard Location above our home and our beautiful creek, and if a landslide washes out the creek and trees and wildlife habitat that we protect, well, that’s legal too, and an act of god. 

After all, Seneca has to be allowed to make every dollar possible off of their private land, no matter who else suffers.

We have had a trailcam in Dysert Creek for several years and we have grown to LOVE all the different wildlife bathing and drinking there. Here are a couple of examples from our trail came of what is at stake:



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For The Wild

Francis Eatherington

Douglas County, OR

Photo Credits: 
Photos From Francis Eatherington