A Senate bill that could mean millions of dollars in additional federal funding for Curry County is still being reconciled with a House resolution passed earlier, but County Commissioner Cheryl Thorp is pushing for the Senate version.
Thorp sent a letter to Oregon Senator Ron Wyden Wednesday asking him to do all he can to achieve House concurrence with SB 1608.
There is no time to negotiate further, said Thorp.
She wrote, The administration supports SB 1608 but did not support the House bill. Without consensus on the committee, the environmental community will have no means to halt harmful projects, or steer restoration projects to where the needs are greatest.
They did not oppose SB 1608, added Thorp. And I understand that if environmental safeguards are negotiated away, they will do all they can to kill the bill.
Please support separating the log from the logger by requiring a separate contract for the sale of any timber from the projects, she said. I dont want to risk my countys revenues on the chance that the administration will veto some other version of SB 1608.
Thorp has long supported decoupling federal payments to counties from timber revenues.
Wydens Washington, D.C. office, after some unsuccessful telephone tag last week, responded several times this week to requests from The Pilot for more information on the bill.
Data provided by Wydens office showed that Curry County currently receives $5,666,369 annually from the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management.
Under the provisions of Senate Bill 1608, the annual total would be $9,094,744. Of that, 85 percent would go to county services, roads and schools. Ecologically sound national forest projects would receive 15 percent.
Wydens office said the minimum forest service funds available for schools in Curry County would be $1,099,870 a year.
Financial officials with the Oregon Department of Education have indicated that any increase in school funding from the bill will be offset by reductions in state school funding.
Lisa Finkel from Wydens office said the most Wyden can do at the federal level is to make sure states get the education dollars. What happens after that is up to state governments.
She said Wyden would like the intent of the bill to increase education funding to be honored by the states.