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Log export proposal draws large crowd at town hall meeting

Posted: Wednesday, Nov 6th, 2013

velop a multi-million-dollar log-exporting terminal at the Port of Newport continues to be one of the region’s most contentious issues, as revealed by the attendance and resulting dialogue at a public meeting held Tuesday night in Newport.

Nearly 100 people packed the auditorium at the Central Lincoln PUD office for a “town hall meeting to explore concerns about the log export terminal.”

The meeting, which lasted more than four hours, was presented by a group called Citizens Seeking Alternatives to Log Terminals (CSALT).

Presentations were given for about an hour by four “expert” panelists: Roy Keene, a forestry consultant; Greg Pallesen, vice president of the Oregon Pulp and Paper Mill Workers’ Union; Elizabeth Swager, director of Oregon Fair Trade; and Paul Cienfuegos, lead organizer of the Oregon Community Rights Movement.

With the exception of Pallesen, the panelists, along with the audience, were generally against the export of raw logs to Asia, which is the plan of the port and its proposed partners – TPT, a New Zealand-based log export company, and Hancock Timber Resource Group.

The plan’s log hauler is Teevin Bros., which commissioned a traffic impact analysis earlier this year that the Newport City Council approved. The proposal calls for up to 50 log trucks a day traversing SE Moore Drive and Bay Boulevard.

The plan to build a 15-acre paved log yard on port property has been delayed since opponents – the Oregon Coast Alliance, The Landing at Newport Condominium Association and local resident Nancy Smock - filed an appeal with the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA).

Final oral arguments on the appeal occurred on Oct. 10, and LUBA referees indicated late last month that a decision could be issued sometime between Nov. 5-12.

Besides the Teevin Bros. proposal, the port also has been approached by ALCAN Forest Products, which wants to ship logs to China via the terminal located on the northeast side of Yaquina Bay.

ALCAN wants to store logs cut locally on property owned south of Toledo by the Confederated Tribe of Siletz Indians, then transport the material to the port for shipment.

Both Teevin Bros. and ALCAN have proposed shipping the logs out of Newport once a month, though the latter could bypass Highway 20 and Moore Drive by transporting logs via Yaquina Bay Road, according to a company spokesman.

There was also a lengthy discussion during the meeting on the port’s need to expand the dredging of Yaquina Bay in order to allow the large logging ships to reach the terminal.

The general fear expressed by some people during the meeting was the possibility of the estuary being irreparably damaged by deep dredging in the bay.

JoAnn Barton, president of the Port of Newport, said any deeper dredging around the terminal “would primarily be on the small prism in front of the new dock, not dredging of the channel or across the bar.”

While most people in attendance painted a picture where the environment is being ravaged by logging and its related practices, Barton took exception to that notion.

“We have no toxic hotspots in the bay, and it has been scrubbed to where there is no increase of eel grass in the dredging area,” said Barton. “Because of dredging issues, we have been shipping partial loads out of here for years. We have a fully developed estuary, 70 percent of which is already filled.”

She said that the port would like to see more dialogue about the future of Moore Road, “getting down to putting our minds together to see how this will work out. It’s better to export logs out of here for our community rather than send them to Portland or Longview.”

For the complete article see the 11-06-2013 issue.

Click here to view the 11-06-2013 E-Edition containing the rest of this article.

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