A portion of the timber payments that Oregon counties were counting on next year, will not be coming, according to Governor John Kitzhaber’s office.
The Forest Service has announced plans to reduce timber payments next year by about five percent, as part of the automatic spending cuts known as sequestration. Oregon is the hardest hit state in the nation, losing about $3.5 million. Eric Schmidt with the Association of Oregon Counties says it’s yet another loss of funds that counties had been counting on.
Schmidt explained, “This is just another blow for our beleaguered Oregon counties that are on the brink of financial disaster. The federal government has decided to do something that is unprecedented. But at this point in time, there isn’t much we can do about it.”
Forest Service Chief Thomas Tidwell sent a letter to Governor Kitzhaber’s office in March, asking the money be paid back. Kitzhaber questioned the legal authority.
Now, the governor’s spokesman Tim Raphael says that instead of asking for a check, the Forest Service will take the money out of next year’s Secure Rural Schools funds.