A New Plan for Public Land: What's the Deal?
Representatives Greg Walden, Peter DeFazio and Kurt Schrader recently released a Discussion Draft of the “O&C Trust, Conservation, and Jobs Act.”
Representatives Greg Walden, Peter DeFazio and Kurt Schrader recently
released a Discussion Draft of the “O&C Trust, Conservation, and
Jobs Act.” The bill is an attempt to fund county government through
logging federal land and it is sweeping in its impacts to public
forests, clean water and wildlife habitat. Most of these forests are in
southwest Oregon, including areas like the Wild Rogue, the Siskiyou Wild
Rivers and the Applegate Valley.
While the bill is complex, it would do the following:
- Place 1.5 million acres of BLM and Forest Service forests up to 125 years of age in western Oregon in a “Trust” to be managed solely to generate revenue. The public forest will be treated much like industrial timberlands, which can be clearcut and sprayed with herbicides – stream buffers would be reduced to nearly nothing and land in Old Growth Reserves would be turned over to the Trust to be logged.
- Instead of federal agencies, an appointed board will manage the 1.5 million acres with the goal of producing maximum revenues from logging. The counties can sue the trust for not producing profit, all but eliminating conservation values in management decisions. The public process would be removed and given to the board, taking the “public” out of public lands.
- The conservation aspects of the plan are important but most are not assured and they fail to make up for the conversion of vast acreages of public forests into permanent tree farms. The conservation measures include: Transfer of the remaining BLM forests to the U.S. Forest Service (about 900,000 acres) and establish a committee to determine “unique old-growth” on those forests for protection and would establish Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers on about 100,000 acres.
- Finally, we are concerned that this plan undermines the progress so many have made to design ecologically based management that produces multiple values from our public lands, like clean water, recreation and timber by-products. Diverse stakeholders have been working towards a collaborative forestry solution. This plan would undermine the work of watershed councils, federal and state agencies and non-profit groups to restore public lands, clean water and salmon habitat.