They need to hear from Oregonians that this is just not acceptable.
We need JOBS in Oregon, not fire fighters.
From: Keith C Trahern [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Friday, November 22, 2013 12:34 PM
To: ‘Keith C Trahern’
Subject: Leaked Wyden’s Anti Rural Jobs and More Forest Fires Bill
Summary of the Wyden O&C bill which he will be releasing next week (right before Thanksgiving…come on!). As chairman of the Senate committee with complete jurisdiction over the Forest Service and BLM, this is the best he could do is legislate more poverty for Oregon’s rural forest communities! The only certainty in this bill is that rural Oregon will economically become a third world country!
Tell Senator Wyden, Senator Merkley, and Governor Kitzhaber this proposal is unacceptable!
Senator Ron Wyden’s Anti Rural Jobs and More Forest Fires Bill (aka Oregon and California Land Grant Act of 2013)
(the following is his words not ours)
“For too long, Oregon’s 2.1 million acres of O&C grant lands have been ground zero for the battle between those seeking to halt logging in the Northwest and those seeking to return to the unsustainable logging levels of a bygone era.
This legislation would end the gridlock by using science to guide management of the O&C lands, roughly doubling timber harvests over the next 10 years compared to the last 10 years and providing certainty for local communities. At the same time, this bill will permanently protect old growth trees, ensure habitat for sensitive species, and put in place strong safeguards for drinking water and fish.
This bill amends the Oregon and California Revested Lands Sustained Yield Management Act of 1937, so the O&C Grant Lands in 18 Oregon counties aremanaged to foster long-term forest and environmental health while producing sustainable levels of timber.
It achieves these goals and resolves longstanding land management disputes by separating the Oregon and California Grant Lands into roughly equal “forestry emphasis” and “conservation emphasis” areas.
Ensuring Predictable and Sustainable Timber Harvests
The legislation requires the Secretary of the Interior to provide a long-term sustained yield of timber in forestry emphasis areas, using forestry principles developed by Drs. Norm Johnson and Jerry Franklin, two highly respected Northwest scientists. It includes specific directions for managing dry and moist forests. In forestry emphasis areas, sustainable timber production is a clear management priority, eliminating the uncertainty and conflicting direction that have contributed to the decline in forest management on O&C lands.
Over the past decade, harvests have averaged 149.5 million board feet per year, and were at just 167 million board feet in 2012, according to the BLM. Even that low level is likely to fall off by more than 30% in about a decade, according to the agency’s projections. The status quo, thinning only approach leads to only about 115 million board feet of harvests in about 10 years, unless the agency can move forward with a new strategy for the O&C forests. This bill represents a new strategy that works and can become law.
This strategy takes the most controversial harvests off the table. It ensures that:
- Old growth stands over 120 years old and trees over 150 years old cannot be harvested.
- Timber harvests and thinning projects cannot significantly impact stream quality, fish, highly erodible land, wetlands, endangered or threatened species, or tribal cultural sites.
- Spotted owl nest trees are protected and harvests that may impact endangered species require coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
- Harvests must retain 30 percent of the original trees in a stand. Trees along streams can count toward this 30 percent, but any old growth trees protected are above and beyond this threshold. The remaining trees are to be no uniformly spaced throughout a stand, ensuring more natural distribution of trees.
- Stands in the moist forests will be harvested when the average age of the trees in the stand reach 80 to 120 years of age.
- Continues thinning projects that leave more than 50 percent of trees in stands. Dry Forests
- Resiliency to fire is the management emphasis for dry forest stands.
- Harvesting to reduce the density of trees in dry forests is promoted- however, one third of all of the dry forests must be selected to remain as denser landscape scale patches for endangered species.
- Harvesting must ensure the oldest 35 percent of the trees in an area remain after the operation.
- Provides new flexibility for county governments to reduce fire danger within half a mile of homes, and private landowners to within 100 feet of their own homes.
Streamlining Environmental Reviews
This bill would cut environmental and court reviews of proposed timber sales nearly in half, taking commonsense steps to streamline review procedures, while maintaining environmental laws.
While federal Environmental Impact Statements take an average of 3.6 years, according to one study, this bill would require the BLM to finalize its O&C environmental impact statements within 18 months after the bill becomes law.
First, it streamlines the timelines for environmental and judicial reviews-
Second, it eliminates the individual environmental impact statements for each timber sale, and replaces them with two large-scale environmental impact statements – one each for dry and moist forests – that examine 10 years’ worth of timber sales on O&C lands-
Third, it requires front loaded coordination between federal agencies during environmental reviews- and
Fourth, it requires upfront studies of areas to prioritize treatments.
- The streamlined EIS procedures continue to allow for judicial review, but eliminate unnecessary delays by setting strict, but achievable deadlines. For example, the draft Environmental Impact Statements must be released within a year of enactment, and finalized within 18 months of enactment.
- Lawsuits must be filed no later than 30 days after a final decision is made by the BLM. In addition, only those who participated in the BLM comment process and raised their objections are eligible to file suit. An expedited court procedure requires trials to begin within 180 days, to ensure lawsuits are heard in a timely manner.
- Once the 10year EIS is finalized, the BLM must simply document that a proposed project meets the criteria analyzed in the EIS, rather than conducting a project specific environmental review. Projects may only be challenged on the grounds that they failed to conform with the EIS.
- Eliminates the time consuming “survey and manage” requirements of the Northwest Forest Plan on the forestry emphasis areas of the O&C lands.
- The US Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service will conduct a five year check in, to ensure operations and impacts to species follow the original EIS.
- This bill leaves the Endangered Species Act untouched, and the habitat for the plants and animals that the Endangered Species Act protects are managed to help try to recover these species.
Protecting Streams, Drinking Water and Fish
The bill creates the first specific legislative protections for aquatic areas and watersheds on O&C lands, by requiring the BLM to protect and restore waterquality for drinking water and aquatic species in streams and lakes.
- It protects water quality for all O&C lands. In forestry emphasis areas, riparian reserves would encompass an area 150 feet from streams containing fish, and 75 feet from other streams. The modified reserves allow for greater timber harvests, while maintaining habitat and water quality protections.
- Within those reserves, thinning is allowed to improve forest and stream health. Thinning is allowed for trees under 80 years old in moist forests, and for trees under 150 years in dry forests. An additional buffer of 75 feet on streams without fish can be used for sustainable harvests in standsless than 80 years of age.
- In conservation emphasis areas, riparian reserves are permanently protected under the same approach currently used under the NorthwestForest Plan.
- Watershed assessments will be conducted to identify streams most in need of protection. Riparian reserves can be adjusted based on those assessments.
- Permanent road construction is prohibited in key watersheds, and the BLM is directed to generally decrease the quantity of roads on its lands.
- Sets aside $1 million per year for transporting and placing large trees in streams to improve water quality and fish habitat.
- To speed up restoration accomplishments, the following clearly beneficial restoration activities are excluded from analysis typically required by NEPA: Placing trees in streams to benefit fish species, planting of native trees along streams, replacing culverts that prevent fish from migrating, and removal of user created roads.
- The removal of excess roads on BLM lands is a priority. A new “Legacy Roads and Trails” program is created for these lands and is authorized to spend $5 million annually.
Management in the Conservation Areas
Conservation areas will be managed for general conservation benefits, including old growth protection, watershed health, native wildlife, climate management, recreation, and tourism.
- In the conservation areas, road building with limited exceptions and mineral development is prohibited. Timber harvests are allowed, but are limited to those that improve habitat and forest health. This is achieved by
thinning and retaining older and larger trees. Portions of the conservation areas will be designated for more specific management and additional protections:
- Oregon Treasures: Wild Rogue Wilderness expansion (56,400 acres), Rogue River Wild and Scenic Rivers expansion (93 miles), Molalla Recreational River designation (15.1 miles), Table Rock Fork Recreational River designation (6.2 miles), Chetco Wild and Scenic River update
- Devil’s Staircase Wilderness: 30,540 acres
- Cascade Siskiyou National Monument Expansion: 5,700 acres
- Illinois Valley Salmon and Botanical Area: 16,300 acres
- Recreation and Backcountry Areas: Rogue National Recreation Area (nearly 95,000 acres)- Molalla National Recreation Area (24,000 acres)- Pacific Crest Trail Protection Corridor (8,200 acres)- Primitive Backcountry Areas: Grizzly Peak (3,000 acres), Dakubetede (27,700 acres), Wellington Wildlands (5,700 acres), Mungers Butte (9,800 acres), Brummitt Fir (1,500 acres), Crabtree Valley (2,000 acres)
- Drinking Water Special Management Units (total acres: 47,000): McKenzie, Hillsboro, Clackamas, and Springfield Drinking Water Special Management Units.
- Special Environmental Zones: 95,600 acres of current or proposed BLM Areas of Critical Environmental Concern
- Wild and Scenic Rivers (total miles: 47): Nestucca River, Walker Creek, North Fork Silver Creek, Lobster Creek, Jenny Creek, Spring Creek, Franklin Creek and Wasson Creek
Increasing Revenues for Counties
The revenues generated from the sale of timber from these lands will be shared with the counties and pay for the cost of managing the lands, without increasing the federal deficit.
- Every county is guaranteed at least as much funding as it would have received under the O&C Act of 1937, if it had elected to receive those funds in Fiscal Year 2013.
- The BLM will receive 25 percent of revenues – up to $20 million – to fund management of the O&C lands.
- Each year, $4 million of the revenue generated from timber harvests will go to the U.S. Treasury, to prevent an increase in the federal deficit.
- The remaining revenue shall be paid annually to the O&C counties.
- If there is insufficient revenue to meet the county’s minimum payment, money will be taken from the U.S. Treasury payment and then the BLM administrative repayment to cover the balance.
Consolidating the Checkerboard of Land Ownership
The bill provides new ways to consolidate land ownership and reduce the checkerboard of public and private lands. Within six months of the date of enactment, BLM will identify lands suitable for sale or exchange with private or state owned lands. BLM is authorized to sell or exchange Federal land in order to consolidate land in an effort to improve management efficiency and productivity or to improve the ecological value of conservation areas.
- BLM will sell a portion of the acres it identifies or has previously identified for disposal and use the revenue from the sales to purchase land near to BLM holdings.
- If land in forest emphasis areas is sold, the land purchased with these funds will be managed as a forest emphasis area. Sales of conservation emphasis area lands shall be used to purchase lands for conservation emphasis.
- This Act sets aside 50,000 acres for special joint management and research by the BLM and Oregon State University and other institutions of higher education. The Secretary will choose lands near Oregon State University from both the timber emphasis areas and the conservation areas. The lands will be managed to conduct ecological forestry demonstration projects, research and monitor suspected impacts, and produce timber. If the land fails to be actively managed, it will revert back to management by the BLM.
- Land is restored to two Oregon tribes: the Cow Creek Band of the Umpqua Tribe of Indians, and the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians. The lands may not be used for gaming, and commercial forestry activities on these lands must follow applicable federal laws, and there will be no net loss of O&C lands.
- Management restrictions on the Coquille Tribe’s lands are lifted to make their treatment equal to other tribal”
State Communications Director
Office of Senator Ron Wyden
A Message From Representative Walden
Last week, I told you about the concerns I heard from Oregonians all over the Second District about Obamacare. No matter where I went, there was somebody telling me their story about cancelled insurance plans, diminished access to health care, and jobs lost or hours cut because of the law.
There are people like Chuck and Jan from Medford, who went into retirement with health insurance provided by their former employer. Recently, they got a notice their plan is being cancelled. From Mitchell to Bend, from Enterprise to Medford, all over, people are coming to me with similar stories.
Not only are their plans being cancelled, the replacements are coming back with deductibles that are $12,000 to $15,000 when they were paying a couple of thousand. And the premiums are going up, in some cases double or more. Some of them may get a subsidy. A lot of them won’t. And now they don’t have the plan they were promised they could keep.
And if they try to sign up for a new plan on the state’s exchange, Cover Oregon? They’re out of luck. The website doesn’t work, and the exchange hasn’t enrolled a single person. They have to fill out a long paper form, and someone has to process it by hand.
Not only are Oregonians losing their plans, but also they’re losing access to many of their doctors as well—specialists who could save their lives. Even Timemagazine recognizes that this is a national problem.
If their doctor is out of network in their new plan, they may have to pay out of pocket. So for these Oregonians, their access to health care is reduced, the prices have gone up, and, in many cases, they’ve lost their jobs or their hours have been cut back
Good news: the House passed the Keep Your Health Plan Act I told you about last week on a bipartisan basis. This measure is a lifeline to 150,000 Oregonians who are losing their plans. It’s only a small step, though. We need to repeal the health law and start over to deliver real, patient-centered reforms for Oregonians.
After this bill passed the House, I gave an interview to KATU in Portland about it. Click here to watch.
Removing unnecessary red tape at the Port of Hood River
Last weekend, I was in Hood River for a meeting at the Port to review proposed habitat restoration and economic development projects. Due to outdated regulations, the Port must get approval from the Army Corps of Engineers on activity on land near the Hood River, even though the Port owns the land. Needless to say, this process of winning approval from the Corps is often slow and expensive.
Last month, the House passed legislation I worked on to remove these unnecessary barriers, helping to streamline these projects at the Port that can create jobs and development along the river.
“Greg’s work to help remove the archaic flowage easement was absolutely critical. It’s a small victory but it will help a great deal with our efforts to improve water access, riparian enhancement and walking path construction along the Western edge of the Nichol’s Basin. I want to personally thank him for his assistance,” said Port Commissioner Jon Davies.
This proposal was part of a larger plan passed by the House to reform water infrastructure projects nationwide. It was approved by a vote of 417-3, and the House is currently negotiating differences with the Senate.
Honoring first responders who keep us safe
After the meeting with the Port, I headed to the Hood Fire Department to honor their chief, Devon Wells. Chief Wells recently graduated from the Executive Fire Officer Program at the National Fire Academy, and he asked me to present him with his certificate.
Chief Wells got his start as a volunteer with the Odell Rural Protection over 20 years ago. He worked for the Corvallis fire department while attending OSU and, after college, moved back to Hood River, working his way up the later to become chief in 2009. Firefighting runs in his blood—his father Jim Wells is an assistant chief with the Wy’East Fire District and got him started in the fire service.
I was honored to congratulate him on completing this elite leadership program. Thank you to Chief Wells and Hood River Fire and EMS for their continued devotion to keeping Oregonians safe.
First responders work hard day and night to protect families and communities. We owe it to them to provide them with the resources they need to keep us safe. On Thursday, the Communications and Technology Subcommittee that I lead held an oversight hearing on FirstNet, the new nationwide communications network for public safety. This is important because it would allow, for example, Chief Wells’ fire department in Hood River to communicate with first responders from Portland or from across the river in Washington State.
I’m concerned about some of the bumps in the road FirstNet has experienced as they get started. It’s important to have thorough oversight on behalf of citizens and taxpayers—not to mention first responders. We cannot afford to have this effort fail to produce a network, or worse, have this network deployed and then have no one show up to use it.
For more on this hearing, click here.
Thank you to the Klamath Cattlemen
A special thank you to the Klamath County Cattlemen for honoring me with a special recognition award. But for work in Washington, D.C., I would have been in Klamath personally to accept it.
I sent a member of my staff who comes from a long line of cattlemen to be there on my behalf and give an update on my work in Oregon and D.C., including the forestry bill, attempted EPA overreach under the Clean Water Act, and the farm bill.
Speaking of the farm bill, I’ve kept in close touch with Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas and my other colleagues who are working out a final version with the Senate. My staff has been attending meetings around the district to brief Oregonians on the latest on the bill, including the Sherman County Wheat Growers, the Union County Farm Bureau, and others. It’s time to get this done for Oregon’s farmers.
Helping Oregonians cut through red tape
Just a reminder that I can often help if you are having trouble with a federal agency. A veteran from eastern Oregon came to me last month for help in getting her VA claim adjudicated. I contacted the VA, and, in less than a week, the VA told me that her claim had been completed and she would be receiving more than $13,000 in retroactive compensation.
She wrote me the following week saying, “I would like to tell you Thank You in helping me with my VA claim. To be honest, I didn’t think it would actually be followed through. I am very grateful that you took time out of your busy schedule to check up on it.”
If you or a loved one are having a similar problem, call my office toll free from the 541 area code at 800-533-3303.
That’s all for now. Have a great week and a happy Thanksgiving.
Interview with a great American hero. It’s a bit long but worth it.
The internal effects of a mutable policy are still more calamitous. It poisons the blessing of liberty itself. It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is to-day, can guess what it will be tomorrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed?
Another effect of public instability is the unreasonable advantage it gives to the sagacious, the enterprising, and the moneyed few over the industrious and uniformed mass of the people. Every new regulation concerning commerce or revenue, or in any way affecting the value of the different species of property, presents a new harvest to those who watch the change, and can trace its consequences; a harvest, reared not by themselves, but by the toils and cares of the great body of their fellow-citizens. This is a state of things in which it may be said with some truth that laws are made for the few, not for the many. (Federalist #62)
A Message From Representative Walden
One hundred and fifty years ago, as the Civil War raged, President Lincoln wrote, “Honor to the soldier, and sailor everywhere, who bravely bears his country’s cause.” I recalled this as I participated in Veterans Day commemorations in Central Point, White City, Ashland, and Medford yesterday. President Lincoln’s words ring true to this day as men and women in uniform continue to fight and die to protect our freedom.
The ceremony at the Medford Veterans Park was especially moving as we paused to remember the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War. A special thanks to Esther Lee Vaziri for donating a beautiful new memorial in honor of Korean War veterans.
The week before Veterans Day, I traveled 2,476 miles throughout twelve of the 20 counties in the Second District, holding 36 meetings including several town hall gatherings. Read more about some of these meetings below.
In Baker City, La Grande, and Enterprise, I met with veterans and their families and recognized some hard-working advocates for vets, like Byron Whipple in Union County and Linda McIntyre in Wallowa County.
We talked about the challenges they face caring for veterans in rural Oregon, especially when the VA has a claims backlog of over 700,000. It’s inexcusable that so many veterans have to wait four months, six months, even a year for their claims to be processed. In the House, we’ve passed legislation to hold senior VA officials accountable for fixing the backlog and to make sure the VA has the necessary funding to care for the men and women who served our country in uniform.
Time for the Senate to pass water and jobs plan for Prineville
Last Tuesday, I was in Prineville for a meeting with backers of the Central Oregon Jobs and Water Act, a plan I wrote to deliver needed water to the city for job creation and paves the way for clean energy at Bowman Dam. This common-sense plan passed the House unanimously two weeks ago—for the second time in just over a year. Click here to watch me talk about this plan in the U.S. House.
The plan will create jobs in Crook County, cut through government tape, help with clean energy generation, and improve water quality for fish and wildlife without costing taxpayers a penny. The clock is ticking, though.
In the past 500 days, this plan has been passed unanimously out of the House Natural Resources Committee twice and out of the full House twice. But so far, this measure hasn’t made headway in the Senate. It’s time for the Senate to act, and finally get this done for Central Oregon. What are we waiting for?
It was great to see such widespread community support for the bill including, from the City of Prineville, Crook County, the Warm Springs Tribe, Crooked River Watershed Council, Oregon Bass Federation, Oregon Farm Bureau, Oregon Building and Construction Trades Council, and the Ochoco and North Unit Irrigation Districts.
Prineville Mayor Betty Roppe said, “Congressman Walden has always recognized our community’s needs. These water supplies will not only meet our community’s social and economic needs, but they will be a tremendous benefit to fish and wildlife in the Crooked River.”
Crook County Judge Mike McCabe said, “Farmers and ranchers respect Congressman Walden’s work. Walden understands we can strengthen agricultural productivity by providing water supply certainty, and enhance the environment at the same time.”
It’s time to get this done for Central Oregon.
If you like your health insurance plan, you should be able to keep it
Remember when, during the debate over the health care law, President Obama said, “If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what.”? He said it time and time again, both while lobbying for the bill and even in the three and a half years since the law was passed.
With such unequivocal promises from the President, it’s understandable why so many people were shocked when millions of Americans started receiving health insurance cancellation notices. I have to say I was disappointed—but certainly not surprised—when Oregon officials announced that at least 150,000 Oregonians will see their health insurance plans terminated by the end of the year as a direct result of the new health care law. That’s almost as many people as live in Bend and Medford combined.
I’ve gotten countless letters from Oregonians telling me their plans have been cancelled and that their premiums will skyrocket because of the law. And when Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testified before the Energy and Commerce Committee, I made sure she knew it. As just one example out of many, I told her about a man in Cove who wrote me that he was paying $600 a month for a $3,000 deductible and now it will cost him $800 a month for a $5,000 deductible. Click here to watch our exchange.
The President’s didn’t say, “If I like your health plan, you can keep it.” He said “If you like your health plan, you can keep it.” We need to hold him to that.
My colleagues and I on the Energy and Commerce Committee have written legislation, the Keep Your Health Plan Act, to allow health care plans available today on the individual market to continue to be offered so Americans have the option to keep what they have if they like it. This common-sense legislation will be voted on by the House later this week. Stay tuned as we continue responsible oversight of the health law and its implementation.
Improving rural hospital care in Pendleton
The new health care law just isn’t working. We need real, patient-centered health reform. Last week, I introduced the Critical Access Hospital Flexibility Act, which would give rural hospitals greater flexibility in complying with federal regulations so they can better meet the needs of patients in rural areas.
Currently, federal regulations limit the number of patients per day in so-called Critical Access Hospitals (CAH) to no more than 25. It’s rare, but when a CAH reaches this cap, it is simply forced to turn away patients, transfer them to another location at greater expense, remove individuals from occupied beds, or exercise any other option that limits its ability to focus on what it should be doing – providing patient care. The legislation would allow CAH’s to choose to either meet the current 25 patient per day limit or a limit of 20 patients per day averaged throughout the year.
Last Friday, I talked about this common-sense legislation at the new St. Anthony Hospital facility in Pendleton, one of the hospitals that would be helped by this plan. Click here to read more from the East Oregonian.
In Malheur County, working towards common-sense water quality rules
Last Thursday, I met with onion growers and researchers at OSU’s Malheur County Experiment Station to learn about their research into the scientific basis of the food safety rule the FDA is developing.
I’ve heard a lot of concerns from fruit and vegetable growers in Oregon about these proposed rules. Many farmers have pointed out that the proposals lack common-sense and a crop-specific approach, resulting in many of the proposed provisions being unworkable in the field (literally speaking).
And the science backs this up. For example, according to the research conducted at the station, dry bulb onions grown in eastern Oregon (and Idaho) pose no risk of E. coli contamination. Click here to read more in the Argus Observer.
Later this week, I’m again meeting with the Deputy Commissioner of the FDA, Mike Taylor, to present this research directly to him and his team as they finalize new water quality rules. This evidence-based research is very helpful in showing that the rules as currently drafted just don’t make any sense.
Oregon farmers have told me that if these rules go through as proposed, it could be the end of their farming operation. That’s why the House version of the farm bill requires that the FDA conduct an analysis of the science and economic impact of proposed food safety regulations before they go into effect. The House and the Senate are currently negotiating the differences between the two versions of the bill, and I’ve joined with six of my colleagues from the Northwest to urge them to include this requirement in the final version. Click here to read our letter.
A practical, common-sense rule will help make sure our food is safe without placing unnecessary regulatory burdens on American farm families that could drive them out of business.
Speaking of the farm bill, it was a hot topic in Pendleton when I met with the Umatilla County wheat growers in Pendleton last Thursday. I’m committed to doing my part to get a five year farm bill done the right way. Click here to read more about the meeting in the East Oregonian.
That’s all for this week. Until next time, have a great week.