Democratic News

Washington, D.C. – Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today applauded a commitment made by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to provide technical assistance as Wyden develops legislation to increase timber sales on O&C lands, create jobs and protect the most sensitive areas in Southern Oregon.

Wyden asked Jewell to provide technical assistance in the form of mapping services and other assistance uniquely available through the Department of the Interior as he continues to develop legislation to help Oregon counties increase their timber harvests and secure revenue for important services such as law enforcement and schools. Wyden released a draft of the framework last month.

“There are 18 of these O&C counties that are really hurting, and that’s why I’m pushing so hard to get the harvest up,” Wyden said. “This technical support through the Interior Department is critical when it comes to drawing the maps and zeroing in on the details of increasing timber harvests, creating more jobs and aiding counties.”

Both Wyden and Jewell expressed their concerns about the availability of resources needed to combat another potentially severe wildfire season this summer. The president’s budget request included a funding reduction of almost 50 percent for hazardous fuels treatments used in fire prevention and managed by the Interior Department.

In addition, Wyden stressed the importance of finding new approaches to funding maintenance at national parks, while also allowing new parks to be created. The Interior Department estimates the national park system currently faces an $11 billion deferred maintenance backlog.

Wyden also urged the administration to provide full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) for fiscal year 2015. The president’s budget request included for the first time mandatory funding for a portion of the fund - $200 million - for fiscal year 2014. The LWCF provides money to ensure access to federal lands through land acquisition and aid states with recreational planning and development of outdoor recreational facilities. Since Congress created the LWCF in 1965, the fund has never received its full funding level of $900 million.