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5/99 Appeal of Port Orford Watershed Logging

Private land logging is poorly regulated. Protest of a timber sale that will harm our water supply.

May 21, 1999
Jim Britell
Conservation Chair
Kalmiopsis Audubon

Katherine Wiggins
Oregon Department of Forestry
300 5th Street, Bay Park
Coos Bay OR 97420

Dear Ms. Wiggins

Following are Kalmiopsis Audubon's comments on notification #99–60518, Sorenson Logging's proposal to log in the upper reaches of the Hubbard creek watershed. These comments are being submitted by fax with a hard copy by mail.

SUMMARY:

The north fork of Hubbard creek provides the City Of Port Orford with its drinking water. Port Orford has 1000 citizens, including over 100 members of our organization, who now depend entirely on this watershed to provide a safe dependable source of drinking water.

This community is struggling to cope with the effects of the last two years' storms that destroyed our secondary backup water source, as well as our entire municipal drain field. Currently we are discharging effluent directly into the ocean and we must make extensive and expensive repairs to remedy that emergency. The city is far too extended legally and financially to absorb any damage to the intake part of our water system–especially now that we are down to but one source of drinking water.

This is a small community with modest financial, technical and staff resources. We are already drawing close to the maximum limit of debt that a municipality is legally allowed to assume. And we face unknown amounts of expense to completely replace the our sewer outfall.

Your department has continually asserted that you have the tools and rules to protect essential watersheds and no further restrictive laws are needed to protect the public interest. We ask that you demonstrate this by taking aggressive and pro–active steps to insure that our community does not experience any more problems with our water supply

  • Kalmiopsis Audubon believes that if this permit is approved and the proposed logging occurs and there is any substantial sediment runoff from this operation, it is doubtful that our water plant can process water from our sole drinking water source to legal drinking standards and the community of Port Orford will lose its sole secure source of potable water. If we have to upgrade our water treatment plant to process high turbidity water it may cost us another 1 million dollars.
  • Past oversights in the department's review of logging in this watershed that resulted in fines and violations have led to continuous problem with out drinking water supply, and so you have a special obligation to give this latest application the careful review.
  • The application as submitted is incomplete, contains material omissions and thus does not constitute a completed application. The application should be rejected and the applicant asked to resubmit his application so a new comment period can begin where the public will have the ability to make informed comments on the proposed logging.
BACKGROUND:

Port Orford currently has only one source for drinking water. The city had two sources of drinking water, Hubbard Creek as the primary source of good clean mountain water and Garrison Lake (much inferior) as a secondary source or backup. That back up water source was destroyed by storms, which eroded the dunes allowing an inflow of salt water into Garrison lake that has made the lake unusable as a source of drinking water.

The Hubbard creek watershed our primary—and currently only—water source has many problems. The city has been on the edge of a boil water alert for months due to high turbidity from the sediment run off already present in the watershed. The city has been required to post public notices to the effect that we are having sediment problems, but so far has not been required to issue a boil water alert.

We are especially concerned that the Department of Forestry exercise care with this notice and any permits as the Departments carelessness in the handling of a permit for logging in this same watershed in 1993 resulted in road building and logging which caused huge amounts of sediment to enter our water system, costing the city enormous problems: substantial expense and staff time, continuous disruption of our water supply and water quality problems that continue to this day. It also forced the city to switch back and forth from our primary to a secondary water source up until recently when our secondary water source was destroyed by winter storms.

After the Bussman logging in this watershed your department said they did not know at the time of filing and approval that the logging would be conduced in a watershed that was the source of a community's drinking water. Since we have no alternative source of water anymore, if this logging creates any increase in turbidity in our water supply our community may lose its source of drinking water with all the civic disruption that entails. The bad publicity will likely bring economic activity in the area to a halt as we have a tourist related economy. If our restaurants and motels can not provide clean water they will not be able to operate.

RELIEF WE SEEK

We ask that you advise this landowner that you have no complete permit on file on which the comment period can begin, and ask that he resubmit his application and begin the comment period anew. The written plan which is out for comment until today is the vehicle by which the applicant conveys to the department and to the public the essential facts about this logging upon which the public can prepare intelligent material comments. However the form as submitted omits essential information and therefore we cannot comment on some issues most material to the granting of this permit, and if new information was submitted after you sent the city the plan and we have no knowledge of it, how can we make intelligent comments to you.

Following are what we believe are material omissions on the plan as submitted:

Page 1
"Operators name" – This line is blank.
"Operators telephone number" – This line is blank.
"Written Plan submitted by" – The form asks for the address of the plan's submittee if different from the Landowner or Operator, and although the submitted name is in fact different, his address has been omitted.

Page 4
part III C "High Risk Sites/Unstable Areas": We understand that this property has high risk and unstable areas so this information is critical and should not have been omitted. If the correct answer is "none" it should say so and not be left blank.

Page 6
Road construction:
There is a brief note that there will be road maintenance but items H. "Stream Crossing" and I. "Other Road Construction" is also blank.

We understand that the problem with the earlier Hubbard Creek Logging was with incomplete information and since the main source of sediment would be any road construction or maintenance, this information is essential to a review of this permit. This is not a mere technicality as it was just this sort of error which led to the departments overlooking essential information in the earlier logging and which directly led to the problems we have been subjected to for the last five years.

Because this is such a high visibility logging operation and has the highest public interest there is a need to know exactly who the owners of this parcel are and if any of the timber rights have been assigned to third parties. We request that you ask Sorenson Logging if he has transferred or assigned any timber rights for this parcel to third parties. If he has, then of course the beneficiary and supervisor of this operation may be someone else. We are not alleging that this has occurred, but we think it is in the public interest to make it clear if no other parties are involved in this operation.

Hubbard Creek and all of its tributaries should be a "Type D" stream pursuant to OAR [Oregon Administrative Regulation] 333–61–020 and 629–635–200, and should have a written plan been submitted by the operator with detailed provisions for stream protection. There is a requirement for comprehensive information on logging that is envisioned around areas that are community drinking water supplies per 629–635–130?

Is Hubbard Creek on the map maintained in the ODF office as required by ORS 527.670(6) and OAR 629-635-210?

Section 629–635–120 prescribes a policy for determining whether additional safeguards are required for certain watersheds. We should be eligible for such additional protection and if we are not, you should embark on an emergency process to bring us under these additional protections?

If you do proceed to allow this logging we insist that you insure that no turbidity whatsoever from this operation be allowed to enter the streams that feed our drinking water. We believe a soil scientist should visit the site to examine the logging that was conducted on this property last summer as local residents have advised us that large amounts of sediment were created by recent logging on this parcel and it may already have been a partial cause of our turbidity problems this year.

You should insure that all applicable state and federal clean water laws and regulations are applied; that any restrictions necessary to protect fish and comply with federal and state laws on endangered and threatened species be applied; and that any impact on other listed species be thoroughly reviewed and any necessary restrictions be imposed.

CONCLUSION

The actions you will take and the assiduousness with which you fulfill your responsibilities in the next week or so will determine the future vitality of a vibrant active livable community which is a lovely place to live. It is the failure of your rules to protect community drinking water that led to our present problems and it is situations like ours that is leading large numbers of the public to conclude that much stricter laws are needed to prevent timber companies from damaging public water supplies

#69, (v 1.3) 3/13/11

©1996 Jim Britell
All rights reserved.
May not be reproduced without permission.


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