Wyden O&C Bill gets First Hearing. Continues the Call for Balance and Actions this Year

Friday, February 21, 2014

This month, Senator Wyden held a hearing on his new O&C lands bill. Click here for our take on that bill. Representatives from the timber industry, O&C counties and conservationists traveled to Washington, D.C. to give testimony to the U.S. Senate about their views on this bill. Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR) also testified at the hearing.

Senator Wyden  opened the hearing asking all to consider the need to find the right balance on these lands. He spoke about the unique history of these lands, from federal ownership to private ownership and back again to federal lands. He spoke about “devastation” in the counties, highlighting both the lack of law enforcement and library resources, and he spoke about the extremists on both sides – folks that aren’t willing to find a compromise on this difficult issue. He acknowledged that his bill wasn’t perfect and that he was interested in hearing from folks about how he could make it a more balanced bill.  But he also made clear that this was a situation where no one was getting everything they wanted, but Oregon would indeed get what it needed. He made it clear that he was looking to solve this decades-long debate this year by moving a bill forward in the U.S. Congress.  

Rep. DeFazio testified first. He acknowledged that his O&C bill would not pass the Senate and said he was looking forward to working with Senator Wyden and others, using the Wyden bill as the platform to find an agreeable solution to this issue.  

Conservationists, timber and county representatives all acknowledged the need for balance. Most said they were encouraged by Senator’s Wyden’s approach and looked forward to working with him to get the balance closer.  

Senator Wyden has made a good start. But there is still work to be done to ensure that his bill protects the special qualities of the O&C lands.  This is an important moment to contact Senator Wyden to thank him for his approach, and ask him to keep moving forward while protecting our clean drinking water, wild places and healthy habitat for fish and wildlife. To send Senator Wyden a letter, click here.

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