Rep. Peter DeFazio Amendment Protects Western Oregon Wild & Scenic Lands, Wilderness in Forestry Bill
A bipartisan amendment to the Resilient Federal Forests Act offered today by Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-04) was unanimously approved by the House. The amendment ensures western Oregon lands designated as Wild & Scenic, Wilderness, or as part of the National Trail System continue to be protected from timber production. It also protects the iconic Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area on the Oregon coast. The amendment was cosponsored by Representatives Kurt Schrader (OR-05) and Greg Walden (OR-02).
Before the inclusion of the DeFazio amendment, the bill required all Bureau of Land Management (BLM)-managed public lands in western Oregon to be managed under the Oregon and California Lands Act of 1937, also known as the O&C Act, which allows for increased timber harvest. Rep. DeFazio’s amendment ensures lands designated as Wild & Scenic, Wilderness, or part of the National Trail System, as well as the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area, remain protected from timber harvest.
“Oregon is home to some of the nation’s most valuable natural treasures,” said Rep. DeFazio. “My amendment will help to protect unique lands such as the Wild and Scenic Rogue River and the Kalmiopsis Wilderness and preserve the sites for future generations to enjoy. It must be Congress’s top priority to find a commonsense approach to forest management that will balance sustainable timber yields with protecting our wild and beautiful natural areas.”
Rep. DeFazio has fought to find commonsense solutions to Oregon’s forest management problems for his entire career. Although his amendment passed the House, he ultimately voted against the legislation, describing the bill as a missed opportunity due to its partisan approach—previous forest management bills with more balanced policies failed in the Senate and this bill is doomed to the same fate. Specifically DeFazio was opposed to provisions that prevent plaintiffs from accessing the courts through binding arbitration, limit public input, and double the number of acres exempt from environmental review.
Last Congress, DeFazio was one of 19 Democrats to vote for more balanced legislation to make needed changes in forest management and fix “fire borrowing.” But the Senate never acted on it, or on any other forest management bill.
In the 113th Congress, Rep. DeFazio worked with bipartisan members of the Oregon delegation to craft a bipartisan bill that would create a long-term solution to properly manage statutorily unique forest lands in Oregon. Although the bill passed the House of Representatives in September of 2014, the Senate failed to act on the legislation.