- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 16, 2017

CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) - Several Corvallis groups are asking the Benton County Board of Commissioners to abandon a $1.4 billion timber lawsuit against the state of Oregon filed on behalf of several counties.

Linn County and 15 others claim state forest management policies cost them money because they blocked possible logging revenues, the Gazette-Times reported (https://bit.ly/2x5jw3e). Benton County could be awarded about $30 million if the lawsuit is successful.

Fifteen local environmental, outdoor, community and progressive organizations signed a letter that was read to the board at its Tuesday meeting. The letter argued that if the counties won the lawsuit, it could hurt state forests, contribute to global warming and affect the state’s budget for schools, social services and county funding.

“If you sue an owner of a forest for undercutting and you win, it’s pretty clear what the consequences will be,” said Dave Toler, a Corvallis resident and former Josephine County commissioner, at the meeting.

The board decided in a 2-1 vote in January to stay as a defendant in the lawsuit. County Commissioner Anne Schuster, who voted in favor of staying in the lawsuit, said if the counties won, the outcome of the lawsuit would not increase logging in the state.

The letter by the groups referenced Clatsop Community College, which was withdrawn from the lawsuit after the opting-out period had already passed. The community college was allowed to do so because it was not able to hold a meeting with a quorum of its board members before the deadline, said Vance Croney, the county’s counsel. Croney does not think the court would allow Benton to leave the lawsuit.

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Information from: Gazette-Times, https://www.gtconnect.com

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