Sen. Ron Wyden is touting a new framework aimed at solving the budget problems of Oregon's timber-dependent counties.
Wyden sent the one-page framework to Governor John Kitzhaber’s office. It aims at stable revenue for counties through logging on federal forests in southwestern Oregon. But it also calls on counties to consider boosting local tax rates. Ongoing compensation fromthe federal government – possibly like the current county payment program – is in there, too.
The principles found favor with environmentalists, like Steve Pedery, the conservation director at Oregon Wild. He says unlike other proposals, Wyden puts the environment first.
Pedery said, "At the end of the day, we don’t want a county payment solution that sacrifices the clean water, the wildlife, and wildlands that Oregonians treasure. We need something that allows us to meet these county budget needs while preserving the values that we all care about."
Wyden's chief of staff sent the memo to Kitzhaber. It notes that Wyden is likely to take over a leadership position on the senate natural resources committee, and says Wyden is (quote) “well-positioned to move this issue forward."
This story originally appeared on Oregon Public Broadcasting.