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PORTLAND — The term “greatest permanent value”  should not be simply defined economically, members of the North Coast State Forest Coalition said Friday in response to Linn County’s planned lawsuit against the Department of Forestry.

Members of the coalition are the Association of Northwest Steelheaders, Wild Salmon Center, Oregon Council of Trout Unlimited, Oregon Chapter of Sierra Club, Native Fish Society, Pacific Rivers, and Northwest Guides & Anglers Association.

In a statement, Chris Smith, the coalition's coordinator, said “greatest permanent value” refers to all Oregonians, not just the general funds of the 15 counties named in the lawsuit.

“The Board of Forestry is engaged in a multiyear process to look at different ways to manage state forests across Oregon,” Smith said. “That process has been frustrating for both conservationists and counties, because frankly, the forests are asked to provide more than they are capable of. There’s not enough timber out there to cover all bases.”

Smith said the coalition said it hopes "something good" will come out of the Board of Forestry's process and termed the Linn County lawsuit "a distraction and a disruption of that process. The real need is for the Department of Forestry to move forward to find a long-term solution.”

And Smith said that includes timber revenue.

 “Oregonians are fortunate that our state forests can provide a broad array of values including diverse recreation opportunities, drinking water for hundreds of thousands of people, a rich salmon fishery, fish & wildlife habitat, and timber harvest for jobs and government revenue,” said Guido Rahr, president of the Wild Salmon Center.

Bob Rees, executive director of Northwest Steelheaders and long-time fishing guide, said: “These lands provide the basis for multiple economies — including recreational fisheries and commercial salmon fisheries that contribute more than a billion dollars to the state economy every year. That’s a public value worth protecting.”

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Contact Linn County reporter Alex Paul at 541-812-6114.