EUGENE, Ore. - An Oregon congressman wants to preserve 2.3 million acres of federal forestland in Oregon.
He also wants to log it.
Congressman Peter DeFazio said it is time to generate more logging revenues off of Bureau of Land Management lands in Oregon, especially as federal payments to timber counties are set to expire.
A new timber trust would lease lands to a private company long term. Investors would pay an up front fee. Interest payments would be the new county payments program.
"We're going to provide more predictability for timber supply, produced sustainably, that will have to be processed in the United States of America," the Springfield Democrat told KVAL News.
The plan is to cut the so-called O&C lands managed by the BLM roughly in half.
One portion would be managed by a conservation trust to save the old growth forests.
The other lands would be managed for timber production to create jobs and generate income for the counties.
"I think Peter justifyibly is forcing people to think outside their comfort zone," said Andy Stahl of Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics.
Stahl said taht looking at the forest from above using tools like Google maps, sometimes conservation and timber trust zones will border each other. He said both goals can co-exist.
"This proposal hopes to ensure that all those continue to get protected," he said of the old growth.
Not all environmental groups are on board with this plan, but DeFazio and Stahl see it as possibly the best chance to forge a common path through the timber logjam.
DeFazio said he is working with Republican Congressman Greg Walden, who represents southern and eastern Oregon, Sen. Ron Wyden on the plan. He hopes it can be in place in two years.