GLENDALE, Ore. — A new bill is being proposed to increase timber harvest for struggling O&C counties. Tuesday morning, Senator Ron Wyden proposed his answer for timber reform.
There are about 1.2 billion board feet of timber in western Oregon’s O&C lands. Right now about 200 million of that is actually able to be sold and harvested. This plan would increase that by half, maybe more.
This plan essentially breaks down O&C forests by age, allowing increased harvests on the younger forests. According to the Department of the Interior, however, there are fewer young forests that could be harvested in Southern Oregon than there are in the northern parts of the state.
The timber industry association says they aren’t yet prepared to come to a consensus on the bill, but some local timber companies say they fear the worst.
“Each individual company believes they’ll be the last one standing, but we are about a billion board feet short of being able to sustain current operations in western Oregon. So it’s only a matter of time before someone has to go away,” said Steven Swanson, the CEO of Swanson Group.
Some environmental groups on the other side of the issue say they’re on the fence as well. They say they’re glad the plan keeps those lands under public control, but they’re worried it could open the door for logging practices that approach all-out clear-cutting.
As this plan was just released, many on both the timber industry side and environmental side say they simply haven’t had enough time to read it and form an opinion.