The appeal from 13 counties, including Linn County, seeking to maximize logging revenue, was denied by the Oregon Supreme Court on Friday, according to an announcement made by the court.
The court did not state why it decided not to consider the case. The refusal basically puts an end to a protracted legal battle that at one point appeared to be on track to award the county more than $1 billion in timber revenue.
Long ago, the counties donated forestland to the state, and Oregon now controls it and distributes timber money to the counties.
The Oregon Department of Forestry was accused by thirteen counties, including Linn, of breaking a 1941 agreement that required Oregon to “secure the highest permanent value of those lands to the state.”
The trial in Linn County Circuit Court took place in late October 2019, after the case had first been filed on March 10, 2016. The 12-person jury found in favor of the plaintiffs the following month.
But in April, an appeals court overturned the decision. According to the judgment of that court, aiming for the “highest lasting value” does not imply an “immutable guarantee” to increase county revenue.
The appellate decision is binding because the state’s top court declined to consider the case.
Officials from Linn County are concerned that a number of concerns, such as decisions about forest management that could make wildfires more likely, remain unaddressed.
Commissioner Roger Nyquist expressed his want to speak with Governor Kate Brown shortly. It disappointed him because the Supreme Court turned it down.
John DiLorenzo, who represents class action participants, said in a statement that residents of his clients’ jurisdictions will not be able to benefit from the money that their local governments ought to have received years ago and could have used for their public safety, public education, libraries, and other services.
He declared in the statement that “economic conditions in our rural counties are severe.” “Now that the Supreme Court has decided not to hear this case, it is time for the Legislature to serve the people by funding rural schools, libraries, hospitals, public safety, and county services so that our citizens receive the support they were entitled to and so desperately need,” said a representative of the legislature.
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