1 Feb 2008, 2:33am
Federal forest policy
by admin

Threatening Legal Action Over Timber Funds

This interesting and well-written essay regarding O&C lands and the latest legal twist in that convoluted issue is by the Rogue Pundit [here]:

Back in late 2005, I blogged about local efforts to raise the money necessary to sue the federal government for the return of the O&C lands. The thought was that since the feds have stopped living up to the terms of the O&C Act of 1937, they should give us back the O&C lands. The idea isn’t without logic.

To make a long story short, in 1866 the federal government granted a large swath of land to what eventually became the Oregon & California Railroad Company. The railroad was to build a line from Portland to California, selling land on either side of the route to fund the construction. O&C finally completed the project, but tried to keep a bunch of the remaining land. The feds revested that land (current O&C acreage by county here) and promised to compensate the local governments for the loss of property taxes. Here’s how the law clearly puts it.

Section 1181(a) of the 1937 O&C act reads that O&C lands “Shall be managed… for permanent forest production, and the timber thereon shall be sold, cut, and removed in conformity with the principal of sustained yield for the purpose of providing a permanent source of timber supply, protecting watersheds, regulating streamflow, and contributing to the economic stability of the local Communities and industries, and providing recreational facilities.”

But as we know, little harvesting of the O&C lands-sustainable or otherwise-has occurred for years. Most of the land has essentially become a nature preserve (with an increasing fire risk). Thus, the federal government started compensating the O&C counties directly. That funding was lumped in with the money derived from the logging of national forests. It looks like the resulting timber payments from the creatively-titled Secure Rural Schools Act have now come to an end. The feds have reneged on their end of the bargain… [more]

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