In another blow to hard-presses timber-dependent communities in the rural West, the U.S. House of Representatives Nov. 20 approved a bill imposing strict land-use restrictions along a 21-mile stretch of Oregon’s Molalla River.   

Sponsored by Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Oregon), the bill, H.R. 2781, was approved by a 292-to-133 margin, with 40 Republicans joining 252 Democrats in passing the legislation. 

In addition to the land-use restrictions, the bill also bans logging on 400 acres adjacent to the river.  The prospect of further reducing timber harvests in the economically depressed area prompted Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), a member of the House Natural Resources Committee, to introduce an amendment in the House Rules Committee renaming the bill the “School Children and Jobs Left Behind Act.”   Bishop argued that cutting back timber harvests would reduces revenues to local schools.  He proposed that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) offset the loss of timberland by setting aside 400 acres of BLM land in the area for logging.  His amendment was rejected by the Rules Committee which argued that his proposal was outside the scope of the bill. 

Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Washington) joined Bishop in lambasting the bill on the House floor.  Hasting dismissed the notion that 400 acre tract is too small a parcel to have much of an economic impact by putting the logging ban into context. 

“The fact of the matter is that these 400 acres come on top of thousands and thousands of acres locked up in recent years,” Hastings told his House colleagues.  “Excusing this 400 acres today feeds the

notion that tomorrow or next week we can excuse the taking of 6,000 acres away from helping schools and rural communities.” (
Environment & Energy Daily, Nov. 20, 2009)
 

Schrader, the bill’s sponsor, has said he will work with the Interior Department to safeguard local timber production by other means. But it is not yet clear what he has in mind.  Meanwhile, a companion measure, S. 1369, introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) is pending in the Senate.

Author

  • Bonner Cohen, Ph. D.

    Bonner R. Cohen, Ph. D., is a senior policy analyst with CFACT, where he focuses on natural resources, energy, property rights, and geopolitical developments. Articles by Dr. Cohen have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Investor’s Busines Daily, The New York Post, The Washington Examiner, The Washington Times, The Hill, The Epoch Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Miami Herald, and dozens of other newspapers around the country. He has been interviewed on Fox News, Fox Business Network, CNN, NBC News, NPR, BBC, BBC Worldwide Television, N24 (German-language news network), and scores of radio stations in the U.S. and Canada. He has testified before the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, and the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee. Dr. Cohen has addressed conferences in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and Bangladesh. He has a B.A. from the University of Georgia and a Ph. D. – summa cum laude – from the University of Munich.