Representative Peter DeFazio says it’s been a work in progress for two years, and on Friday a group of Oregon congressmen, along with a majority in the House were able to pass a piece of forestry legislation.
Oregon has millions of acres of O&C lands–land that’s federally owned and logged–with all the logging money going back to the counties where the land is. At one point it was a money maker, but these lands have been bringing in less and less revenue to Oregon.
“Uncertainty still swirls,” DeFazio said.
For the past two years, a group of Oregon legislators, including DeFazio, have worked to try to pass legislation to both protect these lands environmentally.
“Takes 2.8 million acres, 1.2 million acres would be a late successional or old growth. Mature timber or old growth would be set aside permanently for the first time in the history of the United States legislatively protected,” DeFazio said. He said while this happens, it would boost revenue by increasing timber production.
“This is extraordinary. This is the first legislative attempt to put in place a long term resolution of this problem and the uncertainty that it perpetuates over time and the harm it has perpetuated,” DeFazio said.
DeFazio says if passed by the Senate, the timber would be logged on a 100-year rotation, increasing the amount of money going back to Oregon counties.
“About nearly a billion dollars of revenues over the next 10 years–that’s $100 million a year for counties payment,” DeFazio said.
He says this legislation would allow counties who’ve faced some major cuts due to a weak timber industry to reopen jail beds and add sheriff’s deputies, which were all cut during the last few years.
The bill is now in the hands of the U.S. Senate. Representative DeFazio says he expects Senator Ron Wyden will introduce similar legislation into the Senate in the coming weeks. Then if Wyden’s bill passes, the House and senate will conference and come up with a compromise between the two bills.