Oregon senior Senator Ron Wyden made his final push for Oregon timber policy reform before Republicans take control of the Senate in January.
The legislation would affect federal forest lands in Oregon touching eighteen of the state’s thirty-six counties. The Senator’s move came as the result of declining timber harvests in recent years.
The current version of the bill would have the potential to double the annual timber harvest in the 2.8 million acres affected. The bill would protect 1.6 million acres, but allow increased logging on the other 1.2 million.
Logging industry leaders argue that the business needs the legislation to open up the state’s resources. Wyden claims the bill would open 400 million board feet of lumber per year to harvest, doubling the current annual yield.
Environmental organizations expressed caution that the bill would leave natural resources too open to exploitation. President Obama has already threatened to veto a bill that reduces protection of the environment.