Wyden’s forest plan gains support

A recent poll shows support for a forest plan for Eastern Oregon that would balance timber, jobs and environmental concerns.

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Senator Ron Wyden, representatives of the timber industry, and environmentalists drafted Oregon Eastside Forest Restoration Act as a compromise on how to manage forests in Eastern Oregon.

A recent poll showed 77 percent of a sample of local voters supporting the plan, which would usurp the U.S. Forestry Service’s management authority in the area.

The forest plan would direct management of six national forests in eastern Oregon. It would increase thinning and brush-clearing projects, which supporters say would reduce fire danger in the woods while providing timber to mills and jobs to communities suffering from high unemployment. At the same time, the bill would permanently establish watershed protections on the east side and halt new logging roads in roadless areas. Trees older than 150 years and larger than 21 inches in diameter at chest height would be protected.

The bill also directs the U.S. Forest Service to identify the areas that need work and would produce timber during a three-year period. Administrative appeals, a route often taken by activists to block timber sales, would be prohibited while the Forest Service conducts the assessment. The bill allocates $50 million to pay for timber-thinning projects.

Read more at OregonLive.com.

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