Oregon Public Broadcasting

Three Oregon Congressmen urged colleagues Thursday to consider a new plan for forest management in Southern Oregon. Their bill aims to stave off insolvency in some communities.

Tom Tuchmann, an advisor to Governor John Kitzhaber, told the committee the state supports the DeFazio/Walden/Schrader bill.

courtesy of House of Representatives website / Oregon Public Broadcasting

Tom Tuchmann, an advisor to Governor John Kitzhaber, told the committee the state supports the DeFazio/Walden/Schrader bill.

Republican Greg Walden was making the case for a bill he's sponsoring with Democrats Peter Defazio and Kurt Schrader. It would provide a new dual structure for forests in Southern Oregon's O&C Counties.

"What would the outcry be in the Portland area if Intel or Nike shut down? Ask folks in John Day, Wallowa or Hines. It's devastating," Walden said.

Part of the land would be held for conservation. The rest would be managed for timber harvests, with proceeds for the counties.

Representative Raul Labrador of Idaho said federal aid to timber-dependent counties was meant to be temporary. But Defazio called the plan a cost-saver.

"When this legislation is fully implemented, it'll save the federal government up to $100 million a year, which is what we're paying not to manage these lands through the Department of Interior," Defazio said.

Some environmental groups oppose the plan, saying it will harm forest health and water quality.

This story originally appeared on Oregon Public Broadcasting.

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