Cheers: To the city of Camas for effectively managing timberlands it owns in two watersheds adjacent to the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Boulder Creek and Jones Creek are seasonal contributors to the city's drinking water supply, but the city hasn't actively managed the forest that surrounds the creeks. Letting nature take its course is often a good thing, but in this case there are a number of concerns, not the least of which is fire danger. By sensibly managing the stands, the city can secure its source of water well into the future. Some of that management will include selective logging, which will provide a small source of income to the city — a consultant estimates the net value of the timber at $8.9 million over 50 years.
Jeers: To ruffled feathers and high dudgeon in Yacolt. The state's 2011 audit of the town's books found several financial problems, including billing and receipting, community event documentation, bank account reconciliations and payroll accounting. Though there are no rational excuses, these things sometimes happen in small towns, which can rarely afford full-time accountants. But rather than take the knowledge and improve, Yacolt wants to fight. The town council plans to file a notice of intent to sue the state on the grounds the audit was defamatory and contained more than 80 false statements. The town council would be wiser to spend the money the lawsuit will cost on other priorities.
Cheers: To Tom Croley and Gary Anderson. The retirees are among a group of 10 volunteers for the Clark County Sheriff's Office who enforce disabled parking regulations in unincorporated areas. Last year, the corps contributed 185.5 hours, issued 441 warnings and 99 parking citations. The city of Vancouver had to dispense with its enforcement program due to budget cuts, but Croley, Anderson and other sheriff's volunteers will help keep healthy motorists from taking a tempting but off-limits parking space.
Jeers: To the spotted wing drosophila fly. This insect lays its eggs in fruit and makes it unmarketable. Even worse, all indications are the population of this fly will reach record populations in the Pacific Northwest this year, according to Oregon State University Extension. The bug is originally from Asia and was first found in this country in 2008, in California. Now it's putting hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Northwest fruit at risk, including berries, cherries, peaches and plums. OSU is testing some insecticides, and will study a certain kind of wasp to see if it can kill the drosophila fly.
Cheers: To the thousands of Clark County residents who volunteer. Today concludes National Volunteer Week, a small recognition of the 8 billion hours and $170 billion worth of labor volunteers contributed across the United States last year. It's hard to measure local volunteerism, but here are a few examples collected by Columbian reporter Scott Hewitt: Fort Vancouver Regional Library, 1,700 volunteers; Free Clinic of Southwest Washington, 600 volunteers; and Winter Hospitality Overflow shelter, nearly 2,000 volunteers. Our community has its challenges. We have our quarrels. But thanks to these volunteers, we have our pride and our compassion.
Jeers: To cancellation of the 2013 open house at the Cascades Volcano Observatory in Vancouver. The U.S. Geological Survey unit with 55 employees keeps tabs on Mount St. Helens and other dangerous killers. Its last open house was in 2010, and about 1,200 attended. In a news release, the scientists blame the federal budget sequestration for the cancellation. "With major budget cuts this year (we) cannot support 'extracurricular' activities," according to the scientists. Perhaps. But it's a pity that taxpayers will be denied a chance to see what their money pays for, and to get excited about the observatory and its mission.