Governor Works On Timber Payments Plan

GRANTS PASS, Ore. – The financial problems in rural Oregon counties are now getting attention from the federal and state level, and county leaders say a solution needs to be found quickly.

From county commissioners, to the Governor, to members of Congress, a number of groups are focused on one thing: helping Oregon counties that continue to be hit hard by the loss of federal timber payments.

On Thursday, Governor Kitzhaber announced the creation of a new task force to focus on finding solutions to land management and county funding. Josephine County Commissioner Simon Hare was named a member of that panel, along with leaders from other counties, conservationists, and people of the wood products industry.

This is at the same time the BLM is working on land management policies, and other outlines have been put out Senator Ron Wyden, and Congressmen Gred Walden, Peter Defazio and Kurt Schrader. County leaders say all the attention is because affected areas are still in dire straits financially.

“I think everybody would agree that it’s not really working. That’s something the Governor has said. We need a solution to this 30+ year challenge,” said Commissioner Hare.

The Governor’s Task Force met for the first time this week, and will continue to meet regularly to come up with ideas. This week, Senator Ron Wyden also laid out the principals of his own plan. He wants to find solutions that can benefit both the economic and environmental sides long term.