Oregon timber harvests could increase under a bill moving through Congress.
A House committee Wednesday advanced a measure that would ramp up cutting on 1.5 million acres of federally-owned forest land in southwest Oregon. Management of the land formerly owned by the Oregon and California Railroad would be turned over to the state, which would not have to abide by certain federal environmental laws.
Oregon Democratic Congressman Peter DeFazio says the goal is to provide an economic boost to struggling counties in southwest Oregon. “This bill is not going to provide an optimal level of services. It will probably provide adequate services. It will provide for additional jobs in rural areas.”
The bill would also set aside some land for wilderness protection. Environmental groups have criticized the plan. They say it would open the door to more clear-cutting.