"Welcome to Oregon, Home of the Clearcut!"
The story behind Oregon Wild's controversial billboard at the Portland Airport
Gone are the awe-inspiring images of cascading waterfalls, adorable beavers, and craggy Cascades, welcoming wide-eyed visitors to our dazzling state when they arrive at PDX. Instead? Oregon Wild's "Welcome to Oregon, Home of the Clearcut" video billboard, splashed with dreary photos of clear-cut forests on both private and BLM land in the coast range.
The Port of Portland has long refused to allow political or religious advertising at the airport, and rejected the advertisements when they were submitted in September. In reaction, Oregon Wild and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) brought a case citing the Port’s legal obligation as a government agency to abide by constitutional safeguards for freedom of speech. ("The ACLU has no position on forest practices, but an important part of our mission is to prevent government censorship of expression," says David Fidanque, executive director of the ACLU of Oregon.) On December 12, a Multnomah County Circuit Court judge ruled that the Portland International Airport is required by the state constitution to accept the advertisement from the environmental group.
The billboard is part of a statewide, $3,000 campaign, with ads appearing online, on roadside billboards, and in the Eugene and Portland airports through the end of January. They are accompanied by a new website, www.ClearCutOregon.com, which houses information on logging practices in Oregon and the details of proposals to expand clearcutting on publicly owned lands in the western part of the state.
"People across America think Oregon is synonymous with strong environmental values, but we have a dirty little secret when it comes to clearcut logging," says Sean Stevens, executive director of Oregon Wild. "Clearcutting is rampant on state and private forest lands, and now some politicians want to return to clearcutting on our public lands as well. These ads aim to show the ugly reality of just what that would mean for Oregon."
We love a good environmental fight. But with this and plans to replace our beloved carpet, what has become of our sweet little airport?