Though Oregon’s timber industry made up a bulk of the discussion, the students kept the senator on his toes.
Wyden says he doesn’t know where he stands on the issue of legalizing recreational cannabis, but he did say voice his opinion about industrial hemp.
“Let’s let them legally grow that crop in Oregon and take it to the bank,” Wyden said.
Students also asked the senator about abortion, gay marriage and education. But nearly every adult from the public who asked a question pressed the senator about the future of Oregon’s timber industry.
Some from the timber industry urged the senator to cut more forest land. Others on the environmental side said we’re cutting too much.
“You kind of feel like Goldie Locks and the Three Bears,” Wyden said.
Wyden recently proposed a bill that would double the timber harvest in 18 Oregon counties.
“What we’ve tried to do is have a balance between folks who timber for a living and environmental folks and scientists,” Wyden said.
He worked with two scientists to help design harvests that try to mimic nature rather than using clear cuts. In the crowd, there were people who stood on all sides of the issues, but that’s why Wyden says town halls are so essential to get the conversations started. And he says involving youth is extremely important.
“These are students that are thinking about their future, and I think the adults are walking out of this meeting now saying we can feel pretty good about passing the torch to the next generation,” Wyden said.