Organics, timber cut healthy deal

 

OREGON

If chemicals from a private logging operation show up on Ed Smith's organic herbal extract farm, all his worst fears will come true. Though Boise Cascade commonly sprays herbicides after it logs, Smith, cofounder of Herb Pharm in Williams, Ore., says his company would have to forfeit its organic certification and face ruin if chemicals were found in his herbs. "Seventy-five people would lose their jobs," he says.

But the Oregon Department of Forestry says Smith and other organic farmers have no cause for concern. The chemicals will dissipate before they reach downstream farms, says spokesman Rod Nichols. "We're confident the farms are safe."

Nonetheless, the Williams town council is now crusading to buy the forest outright from Boise Cascade. "We want to create a Williams Community Land Trust and preserve the forest as open space," says council member Cedar Grey.

The timber giant says it's willing to sell at a fair price. To show good faith, it's halted logging this summer while the land is appraised.

The town council plans to raise most of the forest's several-hundred-thousand-dollar price tag from conservation organizations like the Trust for Public Lands. Grey says the goal is to have a significant financial commitment by the beginning of next summer's logging season.