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for people who care about the West

Just don't do it

  Just don't do it

Oregon's logging codes might aim to protect fish, wildlife and water quality, but they can't always protect people.

A Coos Bay company recently defied a request from the state Forestry Department that loggers voluntarily stop clear-cutting slide-prone slopes above highways and homes. The state's request came in response to last winter's mudslides that killed five people and damaged more than a dozen homes in southern Oregon.

But West Coast Land and Timber Co. distributed a leaflet to landowners urging them to ignore the state. "Caution...government has proposed new laws that could infringe on your rights as a private landowner to harvest your own timber," said the flier. Officials have so far received seven logging notices from private individuals to harvest timber from slide-prone slopes, but they can't say if the notices were prompted by the leaflet.

State Sen. Bob Kintigh, R-Springfield, denounced the flier: "I deplore this tactic to get people to sell timber."

Steve Karolyi, West Coast Timber's manager, defended the company, saying, "Once these people (environmental groups) get their foot in the door, you lose your rights to log your land." Besides, Karolyi adds, he is taking measures to prevent slides by following Forest Service regulations, including creating buffer zones along creeks and waterways.

Meanwhile, the Oregon Department of Forestry has asked the Legislature to pass a bill enabling the state to bar logging in unstable lands. A decision is expected in the next few months.

*Jamie Murray