Energy Committee Passes Wyden O&C Bill that Significantly Boosts Timber Harvests
Timber harvest projected above 400 million board feet annually for 50 years; Bill locks in protections for drinking water and old growth; Adds more than 250 miles of wild and scenic rivers
Washington, D.C. – Washington, D.C. –Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden’s O&C forestry bill passed out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee today, with new provisions to dramatically increase timber harvests, ensure unprecedented certainty for timber sales and create the strongest legislative protection ever for Northwest old growth.
“I am proud to announce this bill is now expected to generate more than 400 million board feet every year for 50 years on O&C lands – more than doubling current harvests and creating the kind of certainty that Western Oregon mills have sought for decades,” Wyden said. “This legislation won’t make everybody happy, but after years of working with stakeholders from every side of this complex issue, I’m confident this bill at last will deliver everyone in the O&C counties what they need.”
The bill now can move to the Senate floor. Wyden pledged to do everything in his power to pass the O&C Act of 2014 this year.
Crafted over the course of two years of discussions with stakeholders, a public Senate hearing, and countless drafts of the legislation, Wyden’s latest version of the bill includes new wins for forestry as well as environmental protection. Highlights include:
- Expands the land base to 2.8 million acres, up from 2.1 million in the original draft, and 2.4 million acres in the August bill.
- Increases the harvest to 400 million board feet per year over 50 years, more than doubling current O&C harvests, according to modeling by the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service. Previous drafts were expected to produce 300-350 million board feet annually.
- Provides unprecedented certainty for harvests, by allowing harvests in stands less than 80 years of age, reducing environmental review timelines by more than a year, reviewing five years’ worth of timber sales at once and putting strict limits on legal challenges to timber sales that have gone through the environmental review process.
- Allows for more intensive harvests on some stands under 85 years old that are less ecologically valuable (e.g. have already been harvested, are outside riparian areas, etc.)
- Increases protection for old growth by protecting all stands over 85 years old, and individual trees over 150 years old. Previous versions of the bill protected stands over 120 years. This is the most comprehensive legislative protection for old growth in the Northwest.
- Locks in ironclad protections for clean water, by creating legislative protections for streams and drinking water supplies.
- Protects Oregon’s treasures, by creating 87,000 acres of new wilderness and 252 miles of new wild and scenic rivers.
Conservation groups, including The Wilderness Society, Trout Unlimited, Pew’s Campaign for America’s Wilderness, the Pacific Rivers Council and the Wild Salmon Center endorsed Sen. Wyden’s bill this week.