A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

A new hope for O&C timber lands?

Written October 15th, 2012 by Hasso Hering
Governor Kitzhaber has named a group of 14 people to make recommendations on how to help the O&C counties get some money out of the federal timberlands now that the federal county payments have stopped. If they come up with something helpful that actually works, it will be a big surprise.
The committee is supposed to make a report that can be submitted to Congress in early 2013. So at least there’s a definite goal as far as time is concerned. As for substance, uncertainty is the word.
The governor evidently has decided not to support the proposal by Congressman Peter DeFazio and others, which called for turning the O&C lands over to a trust that would run half of them to produce timber and the other half to serve conservation goals. If he was in favor of that plan, why name a special committee? In any case, his announcement of the committee did not mention the DeFazio plan.
The panel has four county commissioners, from Douglas, Josephine, Columbia and Clackamas counties. It has four representatives of lumber and sawmill companies. And it also has six environmentalists.
It’s supposed to devise a plan to increase county income from timber and help generate local jobs.
But the plan also is supposed to save the environment. Under current laws, that’s an impossible job. But the Oregon and California railroad lands were supposed to boost local economies and jobs. So even it it seems impossible, let’s hope this panel can find a way.

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