Entire Oregon delegation backs forest restoration plan

Greg Walden organizes bipartisan backing for job-creating forest landscape restoration projects
By Congressman Greg Walden,

Estimates from proposals say Lakeview project would create more than 80 jobs; Southern Blues project would create more than 150 jobs

U.S. Rep. Greg Walden has organized a bipartisan letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack that expresses strong support for funding two job-creating and large-scale forest restoration projects – one in the Lake County area and the other in Grant and Harney counties. The letter was signed by Walden, Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, and U.S. Reps. Peter DeFazio, Kurt Schrader, and Earl Blumenauer.

The “Lakeview Stewardship Landscape” and “Southern Blues Restoration Coalition” collaborative forest landscape restoration program (CFLRP) project proposals were reviewed and ranked by the CFLRP Advisory Committee as the top two proposals in the country. Since Congress fully funded the program this year, it is now up to Secretary Vilsack to select which projects will be funded.

“I’ve been a proponent of this program as it focuses forest restoration and planning resources on large federal forest landscapes of at least 50,000 acres,” Rep. Greg Walden said. “These two projects encourage collaboration, economic growth, and large-scale forest health projects. In addition, these projects will reduce wildfire management costs and create a predictable supply of forest byproducts to stabilize local communities and infrastructure.”

“Best of all, they will create and sustain jobs in areas of historically high unemployment,” Rep. Walden said. “We need jobs in these rural communities. Hopefully Secretary Vilsack follows the advisory committee’s recommendations.”

The Lakeview proposal includes 150,000 acres to be treated, and estimates it will create more than 80 jobs. The Southern Blues proposal includes 271,980 acres to be treated, and estimates it will create more than 150 new jobs.

“Harney County needs the jobs and forest resource production that will result from the large-scale work proposed by the Southern Blues Restoration project,” said Harney County Judge Steve Grasty. “The collaborative efforts behind this project are made up of diverse members who have come together to prioritize job creation and the need to improve the health of our federal forests. This project will actually lead to work and expand what has already been accomplished on a landscape scale.”

“Congress has done its job, now Secretary Vilsack must do his by selecting these projects,” said Lake County Commissioner Dan Shoun. “The federal land managers in Lake County are ready, pen-in-hand, to sign task orders on already pre-approved projects that will create jobs once the Lakeview Stewardship Landscape proposal is selected. These jobs and the timber production look to stimulate new businesses and create even more jobs. This is exactly what has been needed to guarantee our forest and community health.”

The letter asks Secretary Vilsack to make sure the projects receive his support and investment from the agency.

The letter, which lawmakers sent to Secretary Vilsack last week, is attached to this release.

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