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Wyden Introduces Eastside Forest Bill

Brett Cole, Oregon News Service

Senator Ron Wyden's long-awaited bill to promote logging on national forests in Eastern Oregon has cleared its first legislative hurdle.

The Oregon Democrat's Senate Natural Resource's Committee approved the bill Thursday in Washington, D.C.

Timber industry and conservation groups that had once supported Wyden's efforts to use logging to promote healthier national forests while helping small mills survive are not happy with the latest changes. Tom Partin of the American Forest Resources Council says it puts ecological restoration ahead of economic considerations.

Steve Pedery of Oregon Wild says the bill lifts important protections for old growth forests.

Pedery: "We had hoped we would have a bill that sets this model that we would work to restore environmental health and produce timber as a byproduct. Having a Democratic senator from Oregon pushing legislation that says we're going to log trees up to 200 years old to pay for timber sales, essentially subsidize the timber industry, that's not a good precedent to have out there."

Wyden's office says the bill allows some old growth harvest to pay for thinning projects, but those provisions came at the suggestion of leading forest scientists.

Audio credit: Oregon News Service

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