This was slated to be my last article on exporting logs at the Port of Astoria but there is just too much to be said so there will be more articles.
There are many unanswered questions that have yet to be explained to the public. Looking back at some of the past articles, my biggest concern is how do current tenants coexist with an industrial operation that will bring a traffic impact both to the port property and highway 30/Marine Drive. Exporting logs is not a clean operation. When the port was in the log business, we received numerous complaints from the adjacent boat mooring basin as well as the adjacent Red Lion hotel. Both of these are still in adjacent areas so the specter of noise and log grime is on the table again.
Since those days, the port has added new businesses that will also be adjacent (and in some cases smack in the middle of) to the traffic and logs. Several of these businesses are food grade processors.
I feel strongly a number of these businesses (most of which we solicited) are getting the shaft and would never have chosen to locate their businesses in these areas had they known there would be this kind of industry literally in their front yards.
In my email bin, I have gotten some flack over my articles about being against the logging industry. Hardly. I have always supported the logging industry and am on record during my days as a commissioner and campaigned for State Rep. for less restrictive harvesting of our State forests (both Tillamook and Clatsop). I support our logging industry 100% and advocate for them when I am in a position to do so. Unequivocally I might add. I will go so far as to say I think our harvesting laws are ridiculous and unfortunately the environmentalists have an upper hand right now. I hope that changes and more logs become harvestable. Those who know me, know I’m about as far away from being against logging as one can get. I also believe fossil fuel is here to stay for the foreseeable future. I’m a capitalist at heart and believe big corporations aren’t evil. Earth First, log the other planets later. I think you get the point.
So who else gets the shaft with log exports? Our local businesses. Since the turn of the century, we have been a cruise ship stopping point. Every year, the cruise ship industry injects over a million bucks into our local economy. We worked our tails off to get this business. What many of you don’t know, we sorta stole it from the Port of Portland. The cruise ship industry is a fickle bunch. If they don’t get treated as #1, they find someone who will. The Port of Portland got the lions share of this business until they decided car import ships were #1. It was kind of handy that we were wooing the cruise ship industry at the same time and we just sorta took over. What do you think the cruise ship industry is going to do when the Port tells them “sorry, we have a log ship scheduled for the day you need to come in”? It won’t take long. The cruise ship industry will dry up.
Don’t want to see the cruise ship industry dry up? You need to demand the port fully explain EXACTLY how they intend to deal with ship call conflicts. They need to fully explain EXACTLY how they intend to provide a clean area when the cruise ships do call. I mean, c’mon, there are 1000 people that disembark from the love boat that are going to be ticked if they are walking through bark on their way to local destinations. Commissioner Hunsinger was quoted as saying the port gets about $150k / year from cruise ships. I’m here to tell you that is only a fraction of the benefit our local economy gets from the cruise ship industry. If you are a local business, you should be considering taring and feathering these guys!! There is absolutely no way log exporting and the cruise ship business can coexist. No way, no how. In a nutshell, if log exporting is allowed, we WILL lose the cruise ship business. Unfortunately the taxpayers will lose hundreds of thousands of dollars of their investment into this business. It didn’t happen for free.
Public investment. Taxpayers have millions wrapped up in the port Master plan. We worked so hard to get things in order and set a course for the port that would pay dividends in the future. It amazes me the impatience of this current commission and their willingness to throw your investment dollars out the door on an industry whim that by all appearances materialized overnight. Can the port please explain the thought process that went into this???? It make no sense. Is the port really prepared to throw the master plan in the toilet? Hope not.
Unless I think of other reasons, I think I can wrap this series up in my next article. I have been gathering some hard data that hopefully will cause this current commission to rethink what they are trying to do.