Police: Logging protest cost taxpayers $50K

Police: Logging protest cost taxpayers $50K »Play Video
This July 6, 2009 photo shows an environmental activist looking out from a suspended platform in the Elliott State Forest east of Reedsport, Ore. Oregon Department of Forestry spokesman Kevin Weeks said Tuesday that authorities have met with the protesters, but no move has been made to arrest them. (AP Photo/The News-Review, Robin Loznak)

ROSEBURG, Ore. -- The logging protest in the Elliott State Forest last week was a costly one for taxpayers and the loggers that were involved.

About 50 protesters showed up to try to stop the legal logging operation at a site near Loon Lake in western Douglas County.

It took a lot of resources from the Oregon State Police, who had to bring their Mobile Response Team members from all over the state, plus resources from the Douglas County Sheriff's Office and the Oregon Department of Forestry, among others.

Lt. Doug Ladd of the Oregon State Police Office in Roseburg says it was a costly ordeal.

"The team is drawn from troopers from all over the state," he said. "We had troopers from as far away as Burns and Ontario that had to come here. But, they were needed in order to get this job done safely and correctly. There is an associated cost in bringing these people in from all over the state. Of course, there's the tangible cost, we have to get them fed and housed and all these things, but they're also being drawn away from their primary assignments, and there's an associated cost with that as well. This wound up being pretty expensive for the government."

And, add to that the costs to the loggers and the timber company which owns the land.

More than two dozen of the protesters were arrested and taken to the Douglas County Jail, which incurred costs in booking and processing those that were arrested.

They were cited and released, and Ladd says there is virtually no chance of getting any restitution out of the lawbreakers. "It can be frustrating for us in the sense that, we're here to do this job dispassionately, but when you have a protest like this that especially for people in the local area, it doesn't make a lot of sense. I have been fielding a lot of calls and a lot of frustrations from a lot of people and I certainly understand how they feel."

Ladd said all the protesters he saw had Oregon Trail welfare cards.

Nearly half of them left after police warned that if they were still there the next morning they would be arrested. Another 27 were arrested.

Ladd says the protest cost $50,000 just for the costs that could be documented, but he says it was much higher when all the hidden costs were added in.

The taxpayers are picking up the cost.