Congressman DeFazio is committed to the responsible management of our nation's natural resources. DeFazio has worked tirelessly for the economic security and sustainability of rural communities in Oregon and across the U.S., offered common-sense solutions to promote forest health and reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire, and championed legislation to protect some of Oregon's most incredible natural treasures.
One of DeFazio’s top legislative priorities in Congress is to pass a long-term forest plan for the statutorily unique Oregon and California Railroad Lands (commonly known as O&C Lands) that improves forest health, protects irreplaceable old growth, creates private sector jobs, and provides critical revenues to rural Oregon counties to support basic services like law enforcement and education.
In 2012, DeFazio worked on a bipartisan basis with Reps. Kurt Schrader and Greg Walden to craft and publicly release a solution entitled the “O&C Trust, Conservation, and Jobs Act.” The plan was widely endorsed by diverse stakeholder groups in Oregon. In September 2013, the O&C Trust, Conservation, and Jobs Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives but failed to advance in the Senate.
One of DeFazio's proudest accomplishments is his work on legislation to provide "safety net" payments to timber-dependent counties after changes in federal timber policy dramatically reduced timber receipts to rural communities across the United States. DeFazio helped break the legislative gridlock surrounding the bill and hammered out a compromise signed into law on October 30, 2000. The law has provided tens of millions of dollars for Oregon schools, roads, and public safety. DeFazio also played an instrumental role in extending the "safety net" reauthorizations.
Log Export Ban
Early in his congressional career when Oregon was suffering from a recession DeFazio proposed legislation to ban the export of raw logs from federal lands. The ban remains in place and has saved thousands of family-wage jobs.
New Management Strategy in our forests
In an attempt to break the forest management gridlock on federal forests, DeFazio spearheaded two forest pilot projects in western Oregon to demonstrate new, scientifically-based strategies for managing public forests. The pilot projects were led by world-renowned forestry experts Norm Johnson (Oregon State University) and Jerry Franklin (University of Washington). DeFazio was instrumental in bringing key stakeholders to the table – county governments, environmentalists, the timber industry, and federal agencies – and garnering the support of the Obama administration. The two original pilot projects turned into five projects. To learn more about the forest pilot projects in Western Oregon, visit: https://www.blm.gov/or/resources/forests/index.php and scroll to “Western OR (O&C) Forestry.”
Protecting Oregon’s Natural Treasures
DeFazio’s leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives was crucial to securing appropriate protections for Steens Mountain, Mt. Hood, the Cascade-Siskiyous, the Elk River and Copper Salmon area, the Oregon Badlands, Soda Mountain, and Spring Basin. See below to learn more about what DeFazio is doing to protect even more of Oregon’s incredible natural places.
DeFazio on Forest Management
There is probably no more politically divisive issue in Oregon's Fourth Congressional District than forest policy. Historically, it has been one the most heavily timber-dependent districts in the country. DeFazio has been widely acknowledged for his skill in managing forest policy.
He was thrust to the forefront of this issue when timber harvests were severely curtailed in the late 80s. Cutting old growth timber on public lands was banned to protect the habitat of the threatened northern spotted owl. He spent countless hours working with labor groups, environmentalists and industry leaders to craft a forest plan that would have avoided legal conflicts and provided real certainty to timber-dependent communities. His efforts to find middle ground and reach consensus were ridiculed by extremists on both sides of the issue, yet he was successful in gaining broad support for his vision of forest management.
Shortly after taking office, President Clinton took steps to try to resolve the spotted owl controversy. President Clinton offered the Northwest Forest Plan, which failed in its promises of a steady supply of timber to local mills and protection for vital ecosystems. DeFazio opposed the Clinton plan. Since the mid-1990s, DeFazio has urged the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations to revise the Northwest Forest Plan to protect old growth and provide sustainable jobs. As mentioned above, DeFazio helped craft the O&C bill, which passed the House but failed to advance in the Senate.
DeFazio supports the responsible utilization of biomass material from federal land to develop renewable energy, create jobs, and improve forest health. Hundreds of thousands of acres of federal forests in Oregon could benefit from ecological-based thinning projects. These projects generate thousands of tons of wood chips, slash, and brush that could be used to generate local energy. However, the current practice of forest contractors is to pile and burn this material in the open on our public lands - a practice that is bad for the soil and air. A better approach would be to transport this material from federal lands to local facilities to produce local, renewable energy and to create family-wage jobs. Due to short-sighted national energy policies, woody biomass from forest restoration and commercial thinnings on public lands are not utilized as a renewable fuel and energy source.
Protecting Oregon's Natural Treasures
DeFazio has been a champion of protecting some of Oregon's most unique and spectacular places for the enjoyment of current and future generations.
One of his proudest achievements is expanding the Oregon Caves National Monument. Legislation transfered management responsibilities of the unique caves from the Forest Service to the National Park Service (NPS). The expansion, which was proposed and supported by NPS more than 75 years ago, ensures that the caves and surrounding watershed are adequately protected from water contamination and pollution from grazing. Management by the Park Service also emphasizes wildfire prevention and forest restoration.
DeFazio is committed to promoting the development of renewable energy, helping reduce emissions of greenhouse gases responsible for climate change, and putting an end to our reliance on foreign oil. While DeFazio supports implementing strong domestic caps on greenhouse gas emissions, he believes the most efficient and effective way to cut greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, is for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate emissions. Well-designed regulations would provide the needed predictability and stability to businesses and polluters as they move forward in cutting their emissions. Unlike a speculative, volatile, Wall Street-led cap and trade system, EPA regulations can help the United States reach real reductions without excessive corporate profits and windfalls.
More on Natural Resources
Rep. Peter DeFazio this week reintroduced four bills that would protect several critical salmon and steelhead habitats in southwestern Oregon and designate more than 30,000 acres of public land as Wilderness.
Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-04) and Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) today sent a letter to Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke decrying House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop’s efforts to overturn the Southwestern Oregon Mineral Withdrawal.
Representatives Peter DeFazio (OR-04) and Jared Huffman (CA-02) and Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) today sent a letter to the United States Forest Service (USFS) urging the agency to regularly advise the lawmakers as they review the validity of a mining claim within the Southwestern Oregon Mineral Withdrawal Area.
The letter was sent to the new Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest Supervisor, Merv George, and the new Regional Forester for the USFS Region 6, Glenn Casamassa.
Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-04) last week introduced legislation that would designate segments of the Chetco River and its tributaries as Wild and Scenic and permanently establish protections against future mining claims.
Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-04) today introduced legislation to permanently protect and preserve the remote and rugged area called Devil’s Staircase, as well as parts of Wasson and Franklin creeks.
Rep. Peter DeFazio today applauded the inclusion of a fix for wildfire prevention funding and funding for the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) program in the FY2018 Omnibus spending bill.
Rep. DeFazio has fought for a fix to end the cycle of fire-borrowing throughout his time in Congress and fought for increased funding to fight wildfires, improve forest health and sustain rural communities.
Today, Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Adam Schiff (D-CA), and Suzan DelBene (D-WA) were joined by 44 Members of Congress—primarily from Oregon, Washington, and California—in sending a letter to the Appropriations Committee urging them to increase the federal funding level to $16.1 million in the Fiscal Year 2019 to fully build out and maintain an earthquake early warning system on the West Coast.
Legislation authored by Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-04), the Western Oregon Tribal Fairness Act, was today signed into law by President Trump.
The legislation, H.R. 1306, would place 17,519 acres of federal land currently managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) into trust for the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians, and 14,742 acres of federal land into trust for the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians. It would also amend the Coquille Restoration Act to allow the tribe to manage their forest lands in the same way as all other federal tribes.
Rep. Peter DeFazio last week sent a letter to U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Chief Tony Tooke pressing the agency on specifics regarding their aerial firefighting resources and procedures.
Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-04), along with Reps. Greg Walden (OR-02), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), and Kurt Schrader (OR-05) today applauded the inclusion of emergency funding for wildland fire suppression in the supplemental appropriations bill just passed by the House of Representatives.