On February 6, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources conducted a hearing, seeking stakeholder views on both the National Forest Jobs and Management Act (S 1966) and on Sen. Ron Wyden’s Oregon and California Land Grant Act (S 1784), which similarly seeks to streamline management and revive distressed communities, although limiting its provisions to the federally managed “O&C lands” in Oregon.
Dr. Jerry Franklin, the University of Washington professor whose work frequently challenges industry positions on Northwest public land management, endorsed the Wyden bill, which would shield approved O&C harvest projects from appeal for ten-year periods, once relevant Environmental Impact Statements have survived challenge. However, both Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell and the Bureau of Land Management’s Steve Ellis expressed “concerns,” with Chief Tidwell suggesting that federal agencies continued to have constructive dialogue with “polarized” interests, which any streamlining of a public participation process would jeopardize. Sean Stevens, of Oregon Wild, for his part, suggested that opponents exaggerated the Endangered Species Act’s effect on preventing management.
On the other hand, Representatives of Oregon counties, as well as an executive of Eugene-based Seneca Sawmill, spoke of the devastating impact the collapse of the federal timber sale program continued to have on local economies and public services and noted the advantage current National Environmental Protection Act and ESA administration gave to out-of-region challengers over local interests in determining the management of federal lands in the region.
A webcast of the three-and-a-half-hour hearing is archived here >>