We continue to be impressed by the efforts of the Oregon congressional delegation to literally break up the logjam over federal forest management. But given the politics in Washington, D.C., we’re not overly optimistic about their chances.
Congressmen Peter DeFazio, Kurt Schrader and Greg Walden finally released their draft proposal to manage the O&C forest lands this week, backed at least in principle by Gov. John Kitzhaber and Sen. Ron Wyden.
They propose to divide up the unique O&C lands between old growth forests that need protection, and lands that can be managed for sustainable timber harvest, in keeping with the promise given to Oregon communities so many times.
Their pragmatic plan reaches across partisan and environmental battle lines that have been too harsh and too destructive for too long.
“The goal is to take the old growth controversy off the table,” said DeFazio, “dividing the acreage, setting aside the old growth to be managed by the Forest Service and using the other half to provide revenue and jobs to the people of rural Oregon. We’re trying to break through the old timber wars.”
The draft bill has something for everyone to like and to dislike. It sets aside more wilderness area, for example, and also limits court appeals. It does not restrict nor require specific harvest levels or sales, but it forbids log exports. It sets a standard of forest knowledge for those making decisions, instead of political clout.
“This is an opportunity for us to show what we, as a bipartisan group from Oregon, can do,” said Schrader. “We’re a very unique situation, and this is a chance to show what Oregon can do first.”
We hope they can get it approved, and make it work.