A group of homeowners living in an area from south of the Arcadia State Beach parking lot to the Hug Point State Beach parking lot in unincorporated Clatsop County are concerned about the effect a proposed clearcutting of timber on state-owned land nearby could have on their water sources.
Jay Haladay is one of these homeowners.
The only water source for these more than 20 homes is wells and springs, Halladay said.
“A number of us have state-granted water rights,” he added.
“Most of the residents –the ones I have communicated with—are highly concerned and very frustrated about the potential to damage our water supply and the way the Oregon Department of Forestry has conducted itself as we try to understand the situation,” he said.
After the state cuts the trees, they apply herbicides as part of the reforestation process, according to an ODF statement issued Tuesday.
Kristin Covert is another of the homeowners in this area.
“They are going to be cutting less than 50 feet from where my water collector and several of my neighbors’ collectors are,” Covert said. “This is our only water source.”
“My big concern is when I looked at the cut map, they (ODF) have made some concessions as far as buffers on some creeks,” she said. However, her water rights allows her to collect surface water and “there’s really not a creek they can buffer.”
“I believe this particular site is a very poor choice” considering the small amount of money the state will get for selling the timber and the residents’ concerns about possible water contamination, she said.
Michael Manzulli, president of the Oregon Coast Alliance, contacted the Cannon Beach Gazette earlier this summer with some concerns about the proposed timber cutting.
Manzulli said in an email last week: “These small (water) systems will likely be destroyed by sedimentation from runoff after the clearcut. The proposed tree buffers may blow down (from) winter storms and will be possibly ineffective (this happened in Arch Cape and Rockaway Beach drinking watersheds).”
The Gazette contacted ODF last week about Manzulli’s concerns.
The ODF issued the following statement in response Tuesday: “ODF protects drinking water and is aware of a number of registered and unregistered water systems adjacent to the western boundary of the Norriston Heights timber sale. We maintain no-harvest buffers along streams to protect water quality and habitat for fish and wildlife. In the case of Norriston Heights, the streams are very small and we are leaving 30-foot buffers, which is wider than state law requires. We are designating additional no-harvest zones in the sale area to minimize the potential for wind damage to designated streamside buffers.
“In the case of the Norriston Heights sale, any herbicide application would be done by workers on the ground with 100-foot no-spray buffers along streams. State Forest staff and the herbicide applicator are required to closely monitor weather conditions and only apply when weather conditions are appropriate. Applicators must follow the requirements of the chemical label and Forest Practices Act (forest regulatory laws in the State of Oregon).”
Haladay, Covert and Manzulli said they had concerns about what they consider is a lack of notification to them from ODF about the sale.
“My big concern is (as of Monday) I have heard zero from (ODF)” about the proposed clear cut, Covert said.
“Our home is across the street from the clearcutting,” Haladay said. The public comment period ended May 2 and “I found out about it June 30.”
With respect to public outreach, the ODF statement said: “(ODF) (sent) a press release to all media outlets in counties with state forestland – including the Cannon Beach Gazette and Daily Astorian - and other north coast publications (in addition to The Oregonian and other major media outlets) that receive our notices via the FlashAlert distribution system. We solicit comments through our Facebook and Twitter pages, and our email notice went out to our opt-in email distribution system.
“We (ODF) reference the Oregon Water Resources Database to identify registered water users and their contact information, but in the case of the Norriston Heights sale, it came to our attention that water users’ contact information was often not up to date in that database. We are working to reschedule a meeting with neighboring water users to address concerns and explain the measures ODF is taking to protect water quality.”
The department also stated the revenue from its timber sales funds local services.
“On the Norriston Heights sale, ODF anticipates the sale to generate approximately $636,970 for local service providers, including Clatsop County, Seaside School District, Union Health District and Cannon Beach Rural Fire Protection District,” according to the statement.