Our hearts go out to the thousands of Oregonians tragically impacted by the Labor Day east wind fires. With over one million acres burned, hundreds of structures destroyed, ten people dead and tens of thousands of people evacuated, the fire impact to Western Oregon is unprecedented.
This bears repeating, Coast Range forests are some of the best forests in the world, per acre, at storing carbon. In light of this fact, any proposal that takes on the climate crisis in Oregon must include a bold new vision for the private industrial forest estate.
In March 2020, Governor Brown issued Executive Order (EO) 20-04 requiring state agencies to develop strategies to prevent the most serious, catastrophic impacts of climate change. EO 20-04 calls on agencies to exercise their authority to assist in achieving a reduction in climate change-causing greenhouse gas emissions and address historical injustices by helping impacted and vulnerable communities to adapt to climate change. But are Oregon’s state agencies doing enough?
For decades, the CRA has unwaveringly spoke truth to power and educated Oregonian’s about the true nature of Oregon’s timber industry. Our Executive Director, Chuck Willer, has given countless community presentations across Western Oregon speaking about the timber industry’s tax avoidance, abandonment of rural communities, lost forest production, and Wall Street owners shipping profits to the wealthy investor class.
“The coronavirus pandemic has laid bare a key feature of our economic system – markets and politics-as-usual fail to provide for people and the planet. We learned a similar lesson in Oregon regarding the timber industry’s influence over Salem. Whether it’s the economy, the global climate, or Oregon’s Wall Street dominated forest lands – we must demand justice in response to climate change and insist on sufficient federal funding.”
We need to work harder than ever to ensure that this moment of intense change across the US and Oregon results in a better world for people. We must seize this opportunity to shine a light on the inner workings of the economic system and bring about a much needed just transition. As stated in a recent article by James K. Galbraith about responding to the Coronavirus: “Through it all, the people must be reassured. Those at home must be cared for. And those who remain healthy must be given useful work. Solidarity, organization, determination: These are the words for us now.”
For three years Chuck Willer has been speaking in Oregon communities about rural land ownership, taxation, and forest management. With a deep critique of forestry as practiced by large Wall Street landowners, Chuck outlines the political economic realities that impact rural lives and landscapes. Today, a warming climate is now recognized as a crisis requiring immediate action. Only one proposal exists adequate to the climate challenge and that proposal is the Green New Deal.