On November 26, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) introduced the Oregon and California Land Grant Act of 2013
- promising to expand harvesting opportunities on the 2.6 million acre federal parcel known as the O&C Lands,
- designating approximately equal portions of the lands for timber management and for Wilderness or conservation areas, and
- laying out streamlined processes for project approval and judicial or administrative review for management activities.
In scope, Sen. Wyden’s bill generally corresponds to Title III of Rep. Doc Hastings’s (R-Washington) Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act (HR 1526), passed by the House in September. That title, authored by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon), also lays down management guidelines for the O&C lands, although pro-management critics view the Hastings/DeFazio terms as granting more flexibility and local control in administration than the Wyden approach does. Sen. Wyden’s bill has borne its share of praise and attacks from both industry and greens, and the grassroots coalition Healthy Forests Healthy Communities judges that it would not “provide the level of certainty and job creation” as would the Hastings/DeFazio bill.
The O&C Lands, originally granted for development as a railroad corridor in western Oregon, reverted to the federal government in 1916 and were managed for multiple-use until the timber lock-ups of the 1980s brought them into the general paralysis that still afflicts federal land management in the region.