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About The daily Astorian. (Astoria, Or.) 1961-current | View Entire Issue (April 21, 2017)
THE DAILY ASTORIAN • FRIDAY, APRIL 21, 2017
Oregon drops several defenses in billion-dollar timber lawsuit
By MATEUSZ PERKOWSKI
ALBANY — The state has con-
ceded that a class-action lawsuit
seeking $1.4 billion for insufficient
timber harvests isn’t blocked by the
statute of limitations.
The state government has also
dropped its argument that county
governments and local taxing dis-
tricts don’t have legal stand-
ing to sue for alleged breach of
Last year, Linn County filed a
lawsuit accusing the state of violat-
ing contracts with 15 counties by
reducing logging on about 650,000
acres of forestland the counties had
donated to the state.
The lawsuit was certified as a
class action by Linn County Circuit
Judge Daniel Murphy, which means
the 15 counties and roughly 150 tax-
ing districts, such as schools and fire
departments, were joined as plain-
tiffs in the case.
Since then, Clatsop County and
a few smaller taxing districts have
opted out of the lawsuit.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs had
asked the judge to eliminate 12
“affirmative defenses” intended to
shield the state from the lawsuit.
During oral arguments on Thurs-
day, Oregon’s attorneys agreed
to drop several of these defenses,
including the expiration of the
statute of limitations, the plain-
tiffs’ lack of legal standing and the
court’s lack of jurisdiction over the
However, Oregon’s attorneys also
argued for the validity of remaining
defenses, such as the claim that the
federal Endangered Species Act and
Clean Water Act preclude the level
of logging sought by the plaintiffs.
Counties turned over the forest-
lands in the early 20th century in
return for a share of timber revenues,
but plaintiffs claim Oregon has cur-
tailed logging due to environmental
and recreational considerations.
Even if the Oregon’s contract
with the counties did require timber
revenues to be maximized, that’s no
longer possible because federal laws
effectively impose limits on logging,
said Scott Kaplan, attorney for the
“That purpose, if there was such a
purpose, can’t be satisfied,” he said.
This defense isn’t valid because
the lawsuit only seeks to recover
damages for lost revenues from
lawfully harvested timber, argued
John DiLorenzo, attorney for the
Oregon’s reduction in timber har-
vest goes beyond what’s required by
federal law, he said. “Honoring fed-
eral requirements is built into the
calculation of damages.”
Oregon’s “greatest permanent
value” rule for managing state for-
ests, enacted in 1998, is blamed by
plaintiffs for causing the harvest
Attorneys for the state govern-
ment say the “greatest permanent
value” rule conforms with Oregon
law and the Oregon Department
of Forestry is complying with the
rule, which is a valid defense to the
breach of contract claim.
DiLorenzo said the plaintiffs
agree that the Department of For-
estry is following the rule, but they
simply want to recover damages
resulting from that compliance.
“We’re not seeking to void the
rules,” he said.
Washington state man arrested
for kidnapping following chase
By JACK HEFFERNAN
The Daily Astorian
After leading police on
a roughly 20-minute chase
Wednesday from Seaside to
Astoria with his girlfriend and
daughter in the car, a Wash-
ington state man was arrested
on charges of kidnapping and
Seaside Police responded
to a disturbance call at a res-
idence on the 1300 block of
Second Avenue at 8:15 p.m.
When police arrived, the cou-
ple, with their young daugh-
ter in the back seat, were seen
driving away from the area.
Police stopped the vehicle
about a block away from the
residence. The driver, Chris-
topher Rogich, 24, of Roy,
Washington, allegedly did not
comply with officers’ requests
to exit the car and instructed
his girlfriend to do the same.
Rogich drove away from the
scene moments later. His girl-
friend asked him to pull over
and called 911 during the pur-
suit, Seaside Police Chief
Dave Ham said.
The chase ended on the
Youngs Bay Bridge near Asto-
ria at 8:36 p.m., and Rog-
ich was taken into custody.
He is facing charges of sec-
attempt to elude police with
a vehicle, interfering with a
peace officer, reckless driv-
ing and five counts of reckless
Rogich faces up to 22 years
in prison if convicted on all
charges. Circuit Court Judge
Dawn McIntosh set bail at
$250,000 at a Thursday after-
Mateusz Perkowski/Capital Bureau
Fourteen counties and roughly 130 tax districts are involved in a $1.4
billion lawsuit that accuses Oregon’s government of insufficiently log-
ging state forests.
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Spring is here!
It’s time to start those home improvement projects you’ve been
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2111 Exchange St., Astoria, Oregon • 503-325-4321
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GET A PERMIT – Permits are required for all new
construction as well as for speciﬁ c alterations to existing
homes, including structural, plumbing, mechanical and
electrical changes. Th e person performing the work, whether
the homeowner or a contractor, is responsible for obtaining all
GET THE RIGHT HELP – If you are considering hiring a
contractor, be certain that person is licensed. Contractors are
required to be licensed, bonded and insured to protect their
businesses as well as you and your home. Th e true value of a
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Do I need a permit for this project? Is my contractor licensed?
Clatsop County Building Codes can answer these and other
GIVE US A CALL AT (503) 338-3697