January 08, 2015

Wyden, Merkley Introduce Bills to Double Timber Harvest, Protect Oregon’s Treasures And Settle Water Disputes

Oregon Senators Vow to Fight through Congressional Gridlock to Help Rural Oregon; Introduce O&C Lands Bill and Klamath Basin Water Legislation

Washington, D.C. – Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley reintroduced two bills today that renew their commitment to pass common-sense solutions for decades-old issues facing rural Oregon: creating new timber jobs, and ending long-running disputes over water supplies.

“Oregonians are not going to settle for the status quo stalemate when it comes to timber and natural resources policy, and neither will I,” Wyden said. “Rural Oregon communities need jobs, they need certainty and they need the federal government to follow through on its commitments. I won’t stop fighting to pass these crucial bills and break the stalemate in rural Oregon.”

“Oregon needs improved forest and water policies for our rural communities to thrive, and it’s time to move these common-sense solutions forward,” said Merkley. “Senator Wyden’s O&C bill will increase harvests and improve forest health while increasing protections for some of our most cherished places in Oregon. The Klamath Basin Water Recovery and Economic Restoration Act is the embodiment of major collaboration between stakeholders to resolve long-standing water conflicts in the region, and their ability to come together and build a win-win vision for the future should be a model for how to take on complex and controversial water issues.”

Wyden and Merkley introduced two key Oregon bills today, in the first week of the new Congress:

  • The O&C Lands Act, which would more than double the timber harvest on Oregon’s O&C Lands, end the gridlock on forest policy, and conserve more than a million acres of forest. The bill would ensure more timber to Oregon mills without waiving bedrock environmental laws or giving away vast swaths of public lands, two approaches that the president has promised to veto.
  • The Klamath Water Recovery and Economic Restoration Act, also co-sponsored by Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., which implements a landmark water-sharing agreement worked out by tribes, irrigators and conservationists to end the decades-long water wars in the Klamath Basin. With federal implementation of the agreement, the region will be assured greater supplies of water for its agricultural economy, and water certainty for ranchers, tribes and conservationists alike.

Despite bipartisan support in the Senate, House Republican leaders blocked the Oregon bills from being included in end-of-the-year legislation last month. Wyden and Merkley have pledged to continue standing up for rural Oregon, and finding bipartisan solutions to deliver for Oregon and help grow Oregon’s rural economy.