FEDERAL TIMBER POLICY SHATTERED HARNEY COUNTY'S ECONOMY -- (House of Representatives - January 30, 2007)
Mr. WALDEN of Oregon. Madam Speaker, the failure of Congress to reauthorize the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act is another day with another broken promise.
When the Federal Government abruptly slashed timber harvest, the economy in Harney County, Oregon, population about 7,000, nearly collapsed. Hundreds of family-wage jobs were lost; 78 percent of the land mass in Harney County is controlled by the Federal Government so the government's decision had a dramatic effect on the people who live there.
In 2000, Congress did the right thing by approving the county payments program which in Harney County supports roads, community services, and Burns High School where 60 percent of the student body takes vocational classes.
Take Jim Gibbon, a Burns High graduate and 4-year vocational classes participant. Through that learning, he is now co-owner of Burns Ford and they employ 20 people.
County Judge Steve Grasty says, ``Loss of this program means losing future opportunities for young people here and in rural counties across America.'
This Congress must keep the Federal Government's word to timber communities and pass H.R. 17. Time is running out.