CONTACT: Randi Spivak, Vice President of Government Affairs, Geos Institute (310) 779-4894
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Three proposals to address payments to counties were considered today at a hearing of the Public Lands and Environmental Regulation Subcommittee of the House Natural Resources Committee, including H.R. ____, “Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act” (Hastings); and H.R. ____, “O&C Trust, Conservation, and Jobs Act” (DeFazio, Walden, Schrader); and H.R. 1294, “Self-Sufficient Community Lands Act of 2013” (Labrador).
All three would effectively privatize federal public forestlands by creating legally binding fiduciary trusts for the sole purpose of providing revenues to counties, resulting in industrialized clearcuts across the landscape. The DeFazio-Walden-Schrader proposal would effectively privatize 1.5 million acres of public forests Western Oregon.
Randi Spivak, VP of Government Affairs of Geos Institute, said: “It is easy to get lured in by the way Rep. DeFazio talks about his logging trust. His proposal can actually harm the very counties he purports to protect.”
“The logging trust would create 32 square miles of new clear cuts every year, dumping tons of sediment into rivers, degrading clean drinking water for 1.8 million Oregonians,” said Randi Spivak. “That could mean millions of dollars in increased water treatments costs. Ironically, the same residents of those counties the bill seeks to support would pay for water treatment upgrades.”
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality relies on current forest protections under the Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP) to ensure drinking water meets federal water quality standards.
Increased industrial logging in Oregon’s backyard forests could also hurt the state’s recreation economy. The Outdoor Recreation Industry reports that more than 140,000 jobs are supported by outdoor recreation in Oregon, contributing $4 billion in wages and salaries and $955 million in state and local tax revenue.
“People don’t want to hike or camp in clearcuts. The DeFazio logging trust will generate money from logging on the one hand, but it will likely reduce local economic activity on the other hand,” said Spivak.
At the hearing DeFazio discussed some possible changes to his proposal.
“None of the changes DeFazio alluded to today come anywhere close to mitigating the effective privatization of 1.5 million acres of public lands, clearcutting 32 square miles each year, harming clean drinking water for 1.8 million Oregonians, impacting the recreation economy, and harming wildlife,” said Spivak.
In a March 11 letter to the Oregon delegation, the Association of O&C Counties recommended creating a State fund of $200 million over 10 years from the sale of lottery-backed bonds for land conservation.
Spivak said, “If the State of Oregon is willing do to that, why don’t they just dedicate that lottery money directly to the O&C counties? It would be a lot more efficient and less damaging to the environment.” Lottery funds could easily support the county and state’s fair share contribution address O&C fiscal issues.
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