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Governor Ben W. Olcott's Administration

Governor's Scenic Beauty Message, 1921

Source: Special Message Of Governor Ben W. Olcott To the Thirty-First Oregon Legislature 1921 URGING PRESERVATION of The STATE’S SCENIC BEAUTIES

[Editor's note: Photo; caption: One of the many stretches of our state highways made desolate by logging operations, on Hunt Creek, about twenty miles east of Astoria. Paved in 1920]

Governor’s Special Message

Members of the Legislature:

As indicated to you in my message delivered at the opening of this session I consider the question of the preservation of scenic beauties along our highways of sufficient moment to touch upon it in a special message to your honorable body. If you will bear with me I urge upon you particular consideration of the recommendations I am now about to make.

No other state in the Union has been blessed with so many natural glories as is the State of Oregon. Crowning all of these glories are our forest growths. Without them our mountains would be rocky, forbidding eminences; our streams would dwindle into rivulets; our lakes be shorn of the sylvan fringes which make them entrancing to the nature lover, and our valleys be monotonous stretches. This heritage has been too long neglected. So prodigal has nature been with us; so lavishly has she spread her feasts at our banquet table, we have been apt to feel that these glories would be never ending. We have become satisfied and it has required the thousands from the outside to come and express their wonderment before we actually have awakened to the fact that Oregon is blessed among the states.

The public realizes the importance of these things now, and is fully awake to the fact that, while we have lost many things, there are many things we may cling to and preserve for all posterity. This legislative assembly may make itself remembered in the history of our state by prompt action to assist in the preservation of what should never be lost.

All of the things we have been striving for, the development of tourist travel; the urge to make and keep our state the most livable in the Union; the desire to keep our children in God’s own environment, surrounded by the beauties to which they are the true heirs, all of these will be surrendered and lost unless we act and act promptly.

The preservation of forest beauties is a matter of deep concern to the lumber industry. And it is not my intention or wish to deprive private owners of valuable lands of those things which they have acquired by rightful and legal process. This move is not backed by socialistic intent, now any propaganda to disturb the progress of an industry. Rather, I find the timber owners generally eager and willing to cooperate. But it would be wrong to ask them to surrender vast tracts of valuable timberlands without just compensation, nor do I believe it could be done. In fact, vast tracts are not needed to carry this plan to fruition. Isolated tracts tucked away in pretty nooks; virgin stretches of forest along highways, to be retained of sufficient width to leave the beauties of the landscapes unimpaired; new plantings of trees, shrubberies and foliage along the highways, all of these things can be accommodated without too great expense and without arbitrary confiscation of property.

Some state agency should be the directing head in these endeavors, and I believe that the state highway commission, working in cooperation with the forestry department, the proper body to be clothed with necessary powers.

This matter should not be cast lightly aside. While the hand of man has done much and is doing much to make Oregon a great state, the hand of God fashioned here in the primeval wilderness an ideal earthly paradise which we must preserve as nearly intact as possible without impeding the ordinary progress of civilization.

To properly investigate the question now before us, last summer I named a committee consisting of W. B. Ayer, Jonah B. Wise, L. A. Lewis, E. N. Hurd and Mrs. W. S. Kinney, and this committee went into the matter intelligently and disinterestedly. One large company, the Crown Willamette Paper Company, immediately ceased cutting of timber along the Seaside-Cannon Beach Highway in Clatsop county and I understand is marking time pending action of your honorable body. That road probably accommodates more tourists than any other single road in the state during the summer season and on that road is demonstrated very forcibly the difference between natural timber beauties and the naked stretches left after logging operations with modern machinery have denuded the hillsides. So marked is the difference I venture to say no person passes over the road but comments upon it. That is a single instance. Hundreds of others present themselves. The highway department has cooperated in keeping the executive office advised as to these things and that department I am certain would throw itself into assisting in the work with whole-hearted energy.

The federal commissioner of Indian affairs has agreed that hereafter in all contracts for logging on Indian reservations a strip of at least three hundred feet wide along highways be reserved at all times to continue the timbered effects along such roads passing through the reservations. The federal government has indicated this deep interest in the matter after it had been called to its attention through my office and the highway department as to a stretch of road in the Klamath reservation, and the state should follow suit along state highways wherever possible.

I am attaching to this message copies of tentative statutes which it is believed will be of material assistance in carrying it on. I do not request that these be read to consume the time of your honorable body, but I respectfully suggest that this whole matter be referred to one of your committees, preferably the committee on roads and highways, for its consideration and approval. If better plans than those outlines in the reports and supplemental suggestive statutes may be formulated, I certainly shall be pleased to have them enacted into law.

This message is being transmitted in duplicate to the Senate and the House of Representatives so as not to delay the operations of your honorable bodies by the calling of a joint assembly.

January 24, 1921.

A BILL

For an act entitled “An act to empower the State Highway Commission to acquire rights of way along state highways for the maintenance and preservation of scenic beauties along such highways.”

Be It Enacted by the People of the State of Oregon:

Section 1. The State Highway Commission may acquire, for and in the name of the people of the State of Oregon, by purchase, donation, or by proceedings in eminent domain, rights of way, land or trees and ground necessary for the culture and support thereof on or along the distance of three hundred feet on each side of the center thereof, in any case where the acquisition of such rights of way, land and trees will be for the benefit of the state highway or public highway in aiding in the maintenance and preservation of the attractions and the scenic beauties thereof.

A BILL

For an act making it unlawful to cut down, injure, destroy or in any manner remove trees, standing along or upon a state highway or public road without the permission of the State Highway Commission, and providing a penalty for a violation thereof.

Be It Enacted by the People of the State of Oregon:

Section 1. That it shall be, and is hereby made, unlawful for any person to dig up, cut down, injure, destroy or in any manner remove any tree or trees growing upon or along any state road or public highway without first procuring the written consent of the Oregon State Highway Commission to do so.

Section 2. Whenever any person desires to dig up, cut down, injure, destroy or in any manner remove any such tree or trees growing along or upon any state road or public highway such person shall file with the State Highway Commission an application in writing setting forth the reasons and purpose for the removal or destruction of such trees, upon the filing of which said application the highway commission may, if in its judgment and discretion the destruction or removal of such trees will not mar or in anyway affect the scenic beauty of said highway, or otherwise harm, injure or affect the same, issue a permit authorizing the cutting down, digging up, removal, destruction or trimming of said tree or trees under such conditions and in such manner as the highway commission may in such permit designate.

Section 3. Any person violating any of the provisions of this act, and any person who having procured such permit shall violate the conditions and provisions thereof, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not to exceed $100, or may be imprisoned in the county jail for a period not to exceed thirty days, or for both such fine and imprisonment.

A BILL

For an act to authorize and empower the State Highway Commission, in the name of the State of Oregon, to acquire land along state highways or public roads for rights of way, or for the creation, preservation and maintenance of scenic beauties along said highway, and for the establishment and maintenance of parks or parking places for the convenience and accommodation of the traveling public; and to provide for the exercise of the right of eminent domain in the procurement of such land.

Be It Enacted by the People of the State of Oregon:

Section 1. The State Highway Commission is hereby authorized and empowered to acquire in the name of the State of Oregon, either by purchase, agreement, donation, or by the exercise of the right of eminent domain, land or trees, or the ground necessary for the culture and support of trees or shrubbery, on or along the course of any state or public highway, or to acquire lands or grounds along or adjacent to said state or public highway for rights or way, or for the purpose of creating and establishing parks or parking places for the convenience and accommodation of the traveling public; provided, however, that such lands so acquired shall be within a maximum distance of three hundred feet on either side of the center line of said highway or public road.

Section 2. Whenever in the discretion of the State Highway Commission, the acquisition of lands along or adjacent to any state or public highway are needed, or the acquisition of such lands will be to the advantage and benefit of the State or the traveling public in the beautifying of said highways, or the preservation of existing scenic beauties, or would afford greater convenience or accommodation to the traveling public, the said State Highway Commission, in the name of the State of Oregon, may acquire such lands as herein provided, and may pay for the same out of any fund in the state highway fund, and may improve and maintain the same and have the same authority over such lands to the same extent and in the same manner, and for the same purposes, as said commission has authority now over state highways, and said State Highway Commission is authorized to improve and maintain said lands so acquired out of the state highway funds.

A BILL

For an act entitled “An act giving to the State Highway Commission complete and permanent control over state roads and highways; requiring persons making any alterations or changes in such highways or rights of way along such highways to secure a permit from the State Highway Engineer therefore, and declaring violations of any provisions of this act to be a misdemeanor.”

Be It Enacted by the People of the State of Oregon:

Section 1. No opening shall be made in any state road or highway, nor shall any structure be placed thereon, nor shall any structure which has been placed thereon be changed or renewed except in accordance with a permit from the State Highway commission, of from the State Highway Engineer acting under the State Highway Commission, who shall exercise complete and permanent control over such roads or highways. No state road or highway shall be dug up for laying or placing pipes, conduits, sewers, wires, railways or other objects, and no trees or shrubs in or on any state road of highway shall be planted, trimmed or removed, and no obstruction placed thereon, without written permit, as hereinbefore provided, and then only in accordance with the regulations of such State Highway Commission, or the State Highway Engineer acting under the direction of such commission; and the work shall be done to the satisfaction of the State Highway Engineer or appropriate officers or employees of the state highway in as good condition as before shall be paid by the persons to whom the permit is given or by whom the work is done.

The State Highway Commission, before granting a permit under the provisions of this act, shall require the applicant to file a satisfactory bond to the people of the State of Oregon in such an amount as may be deemed sufficient by he commission or its duly authorized officers, conditioned for the proper compliance with the requirements of this act by the person granted such permit.

Any person convicted of making any opening in a state road or highway or placing any structure thereon, or changing or renewing any structure thereon without obtaining a permit, as herein provided, or not in compliance with the terms of such a permit, or otherwise violating the provisions of this act, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor.

Section 2. This act is not indeed, nor is it to be constructed as limiting the power and duties vested by law in the Public Service Commission of the State of Oregon, and in event of any conflict of jurisdiction, that of such Public Service Commission shall prevail.

A BILL

For an act entitled “An act making it unlawful to cut down, injure or destroy trees along a state road or highway without the permission of the State Highway Engineer, his officers or employees, and declare-the same to be a misdemeanor.

Be It Enacted by the People of the State of Oregon:

Section 1. Any person who digs up, cuts down, injures or destroys any trees on any state road or highway, unless the same is deemed an obstruction by the State Highway Engineer, his officers or employees, and removed under their direction, unless such person has received a permit therefore from such Highway Engineer or appropriate officers of the state highway department, or is otherwise lawfully entitled to dig up, cut down, injure or destroy such trees, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

Oregon Secretary of State • 136 State Capitol • Salem, OR 97310-0722
Phone: (503) 986-1523 • Fax: (503) 986-1616 • oregon.sos@state.or.us

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