By Oregon State Representative Ed Diehl,
SB 795 We need to voice SUPPORT for Senate Bill 795 to give state forest lands BACK to the county! Let the local citizens be in charge of their local forests.
As you may know, the Board of Forestry is proceeding with the Western Oregon State Forests Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP).
The HCP effectively cuts 35% of the timber harvest in state forests. The result is the loss of millions of dollars for the wood products industry, forestry workers, and the budgets of Forest Trust Land Counties. The devastating impacts on local governments, jobs, and essential local services are of serious concern.
I agree with Linn County: There was a contract with the state to hold these forest lands in trust with the objective of managing these forests for greatest permanent value for the local governments that deeded these forest lands to the state. The state is not holding its end of the bargain for the counties that deeded the land.
As you may recall, Linn County won a $1 billion class action claim on this issue. However, the Appeals court overturned & Supreme Court declined to review. The legislature has an opportunity to correct this injustice.
Of the damages awarded in the class action claim, Marion County was awarded $21 million in damages in recognition of the fact that the county was being short-changed with current state forest management practices (…and this was before the HCP).
SB 795 allows for the return of county forest lands back to the county if the county believes it can produce a greater permanent value to benefit its citizens with the forest lands.
SB 795 has a public hearing on the Senate Natural Resources Committee on Monday, February 27th, at 0800 in Hearing Room B, Oregon State Capitol.
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