Time to Take Action
Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.

Economic vitality and stability to Oregon’s rural communities.

Senator Doug Whitsett R- Klamath Falls, District 28

Website: http://www.leg.state.or.us/whitsett

 *E-Newsletter*  2/17/12

This week Washington Congressman “Doc” Hastings introduced a bill in Congress that, if enacted, will make enormous strides toward restoring economic vitality and stability to Oregon’s rural communities. This federal bill would create a County, Schools and Revenue Trust Fund that would provide a perpetual dependable source of revenue for counties containing National Forest Land.

The purpose of the Trust would be to perpetually provide a dependable source of revenue for each beneficiary county containing National Forest System Land. The fund would be established with $875 million to help bridge the financial void left by the discontinuation of funding for the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act. The timber counties would receive the same payments in the 2012 fiscal year that they did in 2010. That payment would be reduced by 25% in 2013.

The Trust would continue to be funded by annual appropriations either equal to 60% of the average annual gross receipts from the National Forest System units located in each county between 1980 and 2000, or a minimum contribution equal to 50% of the average chargeable timber volume sold during the same 20 year period. Two thirds of that revenue would be distributed to the counties and one third to the General Fund for the benefit of the Forest Service. One percent of the Trust Fund contribution would be paid as an incentive to Forest Service employees who successfully execute minimum sales within a fiscal year.

Future funding for the Trust would come from earnings derived from Trust projects on National Forest System land. The Trust projects may include timber sales, issuance of grazing permits, issuance of special use permits involving land use, mineral development, power generation or recreational use and projects implementing a community wildfire protection plan. Projects would not be allowed on Wilderness or other lands where removal of vegetation is specifically prohibited by Federal law. However, any project conducted in response to a catastrophic event on forest land can be designated a Trust project.

The criteria for the Trust projects are carefully designed to avoid delay, unnecessary expense and litigation. A strict timeline is developed for implementing the Trust projects. The Secretary of Agriculture will prepare an environmental report for each project within 30 days. The cost of that report will not be allowed to exceed one third of the estimated value of the receipts of the project. Any review of the Secretary’s decisions is to be limited to administrative consideration. Subsequent judicial review is expressly prohibited.

Both Oregon and California Railroad grant lands and Coos Bay Wagon Road grant lands are included in the H.R. 4019 Trust funds projects by definition.

The failure of the provisions of the Secure Rural Schools and Communities Self-Determination Act to create private sector jobs has always been its weakness. Communities simply cannot be sustained without the stability of adequate family wage jobs. This Federal Act would not only provide consistent reliable funding to federal timber reliant counties but would also create tens of thousands of direct natural resources related family wage jobs. The additional generation of indirect jobs would be expected to exceed the direct jobs created by the Trust projects.

H.R. 4019 truly has the potential to restore our once vibrant rural communities. The importance of enacting this legislation for residents of Southern and Eastern Oregon cannot be overstated. We should all make the concerted effort to both directly ask our Congressional delegation to support H.R. 4019 and also to thank Congressman Hastings for his thoughtful and appropriate effort to put rural Oregon back to work.

Please remember, if we do not stand up for rural Oregon no one will.

Best Regards,





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