For Immediate Release 09/20/13
Lane County to the Federal Delegation: Thank you!
Contact: Lane County Public Information Officer Anne Marie Levis, 541-915-4659
Over the past two days, each chamber of the United States Congress individually passed measures that provide a positive impact to Lane County.
On Thursday, S 783, the High Technology Jobs Preservation Act, sponsored by Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, passed the Senate with bi-partisan support. This measure contains a provision that would extend the payment program to counties known as “Secure Rural Schools” by one year and at a 5% lower level than 2012. The House earlier passed a similar measure, meaning the bills go to a conference committee to iron out final language.
On Friday, HR 1526, the Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act, sponsored by Washington Senator Doc Hastings, passed the House with bi-partisan support. This measure contains two important provisions:
• Title V would provide a one year extension of Secure Rural Schools Payments, at a level based on 2010 payments.
• Title III, the O & C Trust, Conservation, and Jobs Act, was written by Oregon Congressmen Peter DeFazio, Greg Walden, and Kurt Schrader. This title focuses on future management of the 2.2 million acres of Oregon federal forest managed by the Bureau of Land Management. It would split this land essentially into two equal halves, with one half managed by the United States Forest Service under its multiple use mandate, and the other half by a Board of Trustees appointed by the Governor and managed under the dominant use mandate consistent with the 1937 O and C Act. The legislation is designed to increase timber production on these lands to 400-500 million board feet per year on a rotation of 100-120 years. This title also doubles the size of the Rogue Wilderness Area, creates a new wilderness around the Devil’s Staircase, and safeguards 300,000 acres related to watersheds.
Senator Wyden has indicated he is in the process of writing his own legislation to address forest management on federal lands, after previously releasing “framework” guidance during the summer of 2012. Notably, he asked that Oregon’s timber counties work to increase their tax revenue. Of the three county ballot measures proposed, Lane County was the only county that gained the support of its voters with a measure that provided a five year revenue increase to be spent on jail beds.
Sid Leiken, Chairman of the Lane County Board of Commissioners issued the following statement:
“My hat is off to Congressman DeFazio and Senator Wyden. Lane County residents should know they are committed to finding solutions and both are reaching across the aisle to work with their Republican partners to craft legislation that will end the log-jam on actively managing federal lands and ensuring Oregon’s counties are able to continue to provide essential services. The bills that passed their respective chambers over the past two days are the first step. The second step is creating agreements between the two chambers that can gain the signature of the President. Federal land management is a difficult topic, and Lane County is blessed to have the level of knowledge, commitment, and committee seniority of Congressman DeFazio and Senator Wyden. Lane County stands ready to work within the family of Oregon Counties to help them succeed.”
The full Board of County Commissioners will review letters of appreciation for these legislative victories during their next regular meeting.