Vanishing Timber Payments Highlight the Need for Real Solutions in Rural Oregon

Rural Oregon received some bad news this week –  our state will see county payments from the U.S. Forest Service fall to a tenth of last year’s level, from $68 million to roughly $6 million. The safety net for rural schools, roads and law enforcement has been cut to pieces by House Republicans who refused to extend the Secure Rural Schools Program last year.

Ron promised to keep searching for every opening to renew this lifeline for rural Oregon, as soon as possible.

 “This drop unfortunately shows the fallout from House Republicans’ puzzling decision at the end of 2014 to reject my efforts to fund and pass Secure Rural Schools payments for one more year,” Ron said. “These payments are an essential lifeline for rural Oregonians who need to fund their roads and law enforcement as well as their schools.”  

Since Ron co-authored the program in 2000, county timber payments have brought more than $2.8 billion to Oregon, keeping teachers in classrooms, firefighters on call and roads from falling apart.

House Republicans say they plan to tie the safety net to a controversial logging bill. But the president has already threatened to veto legislation that undermines bedrock environmental protections or gives away huge tracts of public land.

That approach is a dead end, that doesn’t get rural communities any closer to a solution.

Ron’s focus is on putting forward real solutions for rural Oregon through his bill on O&C Lands, solve the long-standing water rights issues in the Klamath River basin and strengthen the safety net for local roads schools and law enforcement.