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Letters to the editor published Friday, Sept. 18

Asparagus is not on menu

The Aug. 28 issue of the Spotlight contained two views of the organization CELDF, or the Community Environmental League Defense Fund. One from me was full of praise, and one from Dick Magnuson warned that we are a “Marxist cult.”

CELDF defines themselves as an organization that “works with communities to establish Community Rights.” I’ve never heard this as a Marxist’s philosophy, but maybe I’m wrong.

A “cult” is defined as a small religious group regarded as extreme and/or dangerous. I doubt Mr. Magnuson believes CELDF is religious, but rather defines them as extreme and dangerous. This is true. They pose a direct threat to the status quo of corporate dominance in our country. We happen to think that is a good thing. We are more interested in community rights than corporate rights.

One thing for sure, Mr. Magnuson does not approve of any coddling of the environment. His disdain took an unfortunate and inaccurate turn when he stated, “They believe that humans who believe in ‘private property’ are killers of the environment, and therefore private property must be stopped.”

Where on earth did you get that idea, Mr. Magnuson? Certainly not from anything you read on the CELDF website, nor from anything espoused by our group, Columbia County Sustainable Action for Green Energy, or CC SAGE.

Anyone is free to disagree. That it is the duty of citizens, to be stewards of the environment. But, we object to Mr. Magnuson applying his personal bias to our actions. Instead, we suggest concern about property rights should be reserved for the likes of corporate profiteers who are aided and abetted by politicians to steal your land through the use of eminent

domain, as is happening with regard to the liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in Oregon.

Mr. Magnuson also says, “They select small unsophisticated (in their minds) communities that have natural resources, such as natural gas, timber, etc., and then put out deceitful propaganda, get into office, and dictate to the unsuspecting populace how the citizens’ lives will change to become equal to the asparagus plant.”

First, CELDF did not seek us out. We sought them out when the crude oil trains started rolling through the county with no public notice or discussion. Second, we are indeed guilty of working to elect people who listen to the community when making decisions. We happen to think it is the quintessential American approach to politics. Third, we are also guilty of wanting to protect our food supply and the productive agricultural community in Columbia County. Really, does anyone think asparagus is a bad thing? OK, maybe a few people do.

We could go on and on in defense of CELDF, but we think a more effective way is for everyone to hear directly from its co-founder, Thomas Linzey. He is coming to our county and everyone is invited to hear him speak and question him directly. He will be here Thursday, Oct. 8, at the Caples House located at 1925 First St., Columbia City, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Sorry, asparagus will not be served. It’s out of season now.

Nancy Ward


A plea to Weyerhauser Co.

We are writing about a piece of land located at Pittsburg Road and Highway 30 in St. Helens. This land is on a high basalt bluff, overlooking the Columbia River. It has an oak woodland and large wildflower meadow that is one of the most rare and valuable ecosystems on the planet. It is considered second only to true old-growth forest in its ecological value.This land is owned by Weyerhaeuser Co. and leased to Knife River for aggregate mining.

We have heard from neighbors near the site that the start of logging, which could lead to mining, is about to begin. This would cause total destruction of the oak and camas growing there.

We have already worked for years to try and find a way to conserve the 450-acre property, so far, without success. We are now calling on Weyerhaeuser to donate this land to the Columbia Land Trust or to Oregon State Parks in a gesture of goodwill to the city of St Helens, to Columbia County, and to the entire state of Oregon.

If unwilling to donate, we call on Weyerhauser to sell the land at fair market value. The Bonneville Power Administration mitigation funds might be able to purchase at least a portion of the land, if available at fair market value.

The Columbia Land Trust could take on ownership and management of the site. It already holds properties in the area. The land has a long history of use by the public and has high cultural value. It may have been an important place to Native Americans, who should be involved in any use of this site. Metro’s staff could collect seeds there for its native plant nursery.

When contacted to ask for written permission to collect seeds from the more than 200 species of native plants documented at the site, Weyerhaeuser said no. The public has been shut out, like so many other Weyerhaeuser sites in Columbia County. This one is special and unique.

We have lived in a state of worry and uncertainty about this ecological gem for years. This site, before the senseless and wasteful destruction by logging and mining, is an irreplaceable asset to the community at large.

We implore Weyerhaeuser to act in the best interest of the American public and take this one part of its vast holdings out of play as a commercial investment to do what’s really

best for the community. The site is a short, 40-minute drive from the state’s largest population base. It must be conserved and not destroyed.

We look forward to talking about how we can protect this land.

Caroline Skinner and Howard Blumenthal

St. Helens