Oregon: Destroyers of rainforest start fakin ‘da greenies to get their hands on stimulus dollars

Some people who have long fought to clear-cut the region’s verdant slopes are trying to reposition themselves for a more environmentally friendly economy, motivated by changing political interests, the federal stimulus package and sheer desperation. “I run into people all the time who think we’re lying and trying to go back to old logging ways,” said Jim Walls, director of the Lake County Resources Initiative in southeastern Oregon, a nonprofit agency that is trying to create jobs for rural residents in fields like biomass energy production and wildfire prevention. “It’s just not true.”

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One new believer is Harold Jones. Hear him repent and reposition in the new economy. “The only money I’ve ever made is cutting down trees,” Mr. Jones, 75, said just after coming in from thinning the stand of Douglas firs he has planted on 125 acres he owns here in Lowell.

“So what I’ve tried to do in my retirement is to try to bring
back and repay the Earth for a lot of the devastation I’ve caused it.”
In Lane County, Ore., on the wet west side of the Cascade Range, the
county commission is looking for revenue to replace dwindling federal
payments set up a decade ago to help governments in timber regions.
Lane County received about $47 million this year, but the subsidies
are declining and are scheduled to expire in 2012.

Now Lane County commissioners are asking the Legislature to draft a resolution urging Congress to pay counties that have large amounts of federal forest land for the carbon that their forests trap. Such a plan would depend on Congress’s developing a system for buying and selling so-called carbon offsets.

Not everyone likes the idea. Some loggers say it would
be the final blow to their efforts to restore more logging on federal
land. Jobs that have disappeared, they say, will never return. Some
supporters of sustainable forestry are concerned that, despite
assurances by the Forest Service, the stimulus package will create
only short-term jobs in the woods and miss the chance to invest in a
complete “waste chain,” in which small timber and brush from thinning
projects are put to use for lumber, biomass fuel and other purposes,
potentially strengthening rural economies on many levels.

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