County Timber Payments Dropped

The U.S. Senate on Thursday cut a provision from an energy bill that would have extended for four years the so-called timber payments to counties, including Lane County and other rural Northwest counties, but lawmakers said they will regroup to seek a new way to pass the funding.

Lawmakers might try to win approval of a one-year extension of the county payments legislation rather than seek a multiyear deal, said Tom Towslee, spokesman for U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat.

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The key word in this article is “might””¦ lawmakers MIGHT try to win approval for the extension. I’m sorry, but “might” just is not good enough for suffering counties. Let’s just put this in perspective shall we? Lane County income just dropped from 16+ million to 3 million over night! This type of legislation suggests Congress is actually waiting for the train to wreck before any relief is provided.

We cannot continue to rely on irresponsible government to protect Oregon counties from financial ruin. Oregon taxpayers have an opportunity to get off of federal welfare and help ourselves by encouraging short-sited lawmakers to restore the local tax base.

O&C Counties should have never lost Timber revenues in the first place. The Northwest Forest Plan, which was implemented by former President Clinton, never delivered on its promise of providing timber and timber receipts for local businesses and communities. Environmental litigation prevented that plan from ever being used after the much-ballyhooed Timber Summit in Portland in the early 1990’s.

The current situation is analogous to going to the Midwest and telling farmers they cannot cut and replant their mature corn fields or use them to provide basic needs for Americans. It’s outrageous to inforce laws which prevent Oregon counties from doing so.

Taxpayers are unable and unwilling to make up the difference in lost timber revenues. After last nights vote to eliminate the payments to counties program in the US Senate, it appears the government is unwilling to help supplement the loss as well.

The time to act is no longer short, the time is NOW. Currently the BLM is asking people to submit their comments by Jan. 9, 2008 regarding the alternative 2 plan which would bring back 94% of the lost Timber revenue do desperate Oregon counties. Isn’t fair to say 94% is a whole lot better then nothing at all?

Take heed and hold on tight Oregon, we’re about to crash and burn!