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Wyden Would Double Timber Harvest

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Oregon U. S. Senator Ron Wyden wants to double the timber harvest on 2.1. million acres of O & C timber lands in Western Oregon.  In a proposal to be released Tuesday, environmental reviews would be streamlined.

The Proposed Oregon and California Land Grant Act of 2013 calls for increasing the harvest to a little over 300 million board feet annually. The yearly harvest in the past decade has averaged about 150 million board feet, according to officials.

The Mail Tribune reports that bill would provide the first-ever legislative ban on old-growth timber on  O & C lands, and support expanding wilderness in the lower Rogue River drainage.

The legislation would amend the original Oregon and California Lands Act passed in 1931. The 18 O & C counties in Western Oregon depend on timber receipts from former Oregon & California Railroad Company lands in lieu of taxes for their annual budgets. As harvests have shrunk, the counties have become cash-strapped in recent times.

Senator Wyden says the bill is the first ever to protect old-growth trees on O & C lands.