U.S. Rep. Greg Walden released the following statement following the House Natural Resources Committee's hearing on draft legislation to increase active federal forest management, put Oregonians back to work in the woods, and create revenue for rural schools, first responders, and transportation budgets.
"The House Natural Resources Committee today took the first step toward developing a long-term sustainable solution for our rural forest communities. There is bipartisan agreement that the status quo doesn't work. Counties don't want a federal handout anymore. Oregonians want jobs back in their communities and forests that are actively managed instead of tied up in endless lawsuits.
"Unemployment remains at unacceptably high levels. Our federal forests are choked due to overgrowth and the resulting wildfire comes at extraordinary costs to federal taxpayers. Forest management is frozen on public lands, due in large part to endless litigation against productive use or maintenance of our renewable natural resources. It's time to put Oregonians back to work in the woods to improve the health of our forests and re-establish the federal government's commitment to federally forested counties.
"The most certain way to bolster local school, law enforcement, and transportation budgets is to put people back to work so they can earn a paycheck and contribute taxes. That's all rural Oregonians are asking for -- access to work once more on the public lands that surround their communities. Solutions like the one the committee explored today is what our forests and rural economies need, and I look forward to continuing to work with the committee and my colleagues to move this legislation forward so it can be signed into law and put people back to work in the woods."