Congressman Greg Walden says a one-year extension of federal payments for timber-dependent counties is included in the federal transportation bill now before lawmakers. Walden predicts the bill could come to a floor vote by Friday.
The proposal would secure $100 million dollars for places like Josephine, Curry, and Lane counties. All three counties have struggled to raise revenue as timber harvests have dwindled.
Walden acknowledged the revenue problems in timber country have dragged out over the years with extension after extension. But he sees the issue coming to a head with this last payment.
"It's no longer getting a two-, three-, four-, five-year extension," Walden said. "We're down to eking out a one-year extension. We got to get one firm ground where we have sustainable policy, that works in our communities, works for our forests, and puts our people back to work."
To that end, Walden says he and the rest of the delegation are working on passage of a separate, long-term plan for forest management. Congressman Peter Defazio has proposed forming a trust to govern timber harvests on the federal land in question.