Timber owners must pay their share

I agree with Shawn Stevens that our 2.6 million acres of former Oregon & California Railroad forests shouldn’t be seen as the solution to Lane County financial woes via logging (“Counties must realize logging isn’t their salvation,” March 14). However, I chafe at his suggestion that raising my property taxes is the solution to the county’s financial problems.

Rather than increase my property taxes again, I believe we should look at the largest private property owners in the county. Timberland owners of greater than 5,000 acres pay no harvest tax and less than 5 percent of the property tax, based on real market value, that the rest of us pay on our homes. Those industrial forest owners expose people in rural communities (such as Triangle Lake) to toxic herbicides and some of them export a lot of timber while closing mills in Oregon (Weyerhaeuser closed the Dallas mill in 2009 as log exports surged).

As a health care professional I’m very concerned about the wanton use of toxic chemicals on clear-cuts. I recently saw a presentation by Beyond Toxics showing Weyerhaeuser logging right up to an elementary school and spraying while school was in session. I have read reports on how many acres are sprayed with lethal chemicals by the same company each year. Large timber landowners’ logging practices and log exports affect the health of local people and cost us local jobs. Homeowners shouldn’t have to make up for their huge property tax and harvest tax subsidies.