Congressman Peter DeFazio is home in Oregon this month. He's in the midst of 19 town hall meetings as he travels his district. KLCC caught up with the Springfield Democrat at his Eugene office.
I asked him about legislation to increase logging on Oregon's O & C lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, or BLM. DeFazio's bill was passed by the House a year ago. Senator Ron Wyden introduced his own bill that's a little different from DeFazio's.
DeFazio: "We have agreed on principles. We want to legislatively protect the remaining old growth. A lot of environmental groups poo-poo that, they say we don't need it, we're not worried about it, it's never going to be harvested. Well they're not paying attention. A judge in Washington DC has already ruled the BLM has to increase the harvest on 2 units in southern Oregon, that would be Douglas County, Josephine, Jackson and that area. And another case is pending before this judge that would take the harvest levels back to those that prevailed when my predecessor Jim Weaver was in congress. When he was chairman of the committee they harvested 1.6 billion board feet a year."
DeFazio says the legislation will help provide revenue for Oregon's rural counties.
DeFazio: "They'll be able to provide for basic critical services. Rural sheriff's patrols, jails, public health, you know, some infrastructure. Not all they would need but a base. And also help rural economies."
DeFazio visited Rough and Ready in Southern Oregon this week. The family-owned mill shut down over a year ago and was able to re-open with government funding.
DeFazio: "It's just re-opening. It's not quite done yet. It's a very state of the art mill but it will still employ about 85 people. Good family wage jobs in Cave Junction. They will be the 2nd largest employer in town the largest being Taylor Sausage. But critical. And also gives us a place to take small logs when we deal with forest health. If we get around to dealing with forest health. There's been a collaborative there meeting. They say there's actually about I think it's 3 hundred million board feet of timber that's dead or dying that's ladder fuel that's in need of thinning and fuel reduction. Well that would supply that mill for more than 10 years. So there's work that needs to be done."
Congressman DeFazio says he's been hearing from veterans at his town hall meetings this month. He says South coast residents are concerned about mining on public land. He's trying to update mining laws from the 1800s. DeFazio also has co-sponsored a bill to require labeling of genetically modified foods. He supports Oregon's statewide initiative.
DeFazio is running again for the 4th District seat in the House.
DeFazio: "I expect when Congress adjourns. This congress will have fewer legislative days before the election since at least the Civil War maybe ever. One of the least productive Congresses in history and I think it's intentional on the part of the republicans in the house. So there will be plenty of time to campaign because there's only 8 more legislative days before the election so I'll be back in September and October to campaign."
DeFazio was first elected to represent the 4th District of Oregon in 1986. He's the longest serving Representative from Oregon. He's again being challenged by Art Robinson, who is now chair of the state Republican Party.
Representative Peter DeFazio's remaining Town Hall Schedule:
Thursday, August 21
Suislaw Public Library
1460 9th St.
Veneta City Hall
88184 8th St.
Monday, August 25
Eugene (Focused on Seniors Issues)
870 Berntzen Rd.
Hilyard Community Center
2580 Hilyard St.