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Click here for an audio file of U.S. Senator Gordon H. Smith speaking at today’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing. 

Smith Presses Interior Secretary Nominee on Forest Plan

Pledges to fight for County Payments Until Counties See Return of Timber Revenue

            Washington, DC Noting the devastating loss of livelihood suffered in rural Oregon, U.S. Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR) pressed Interior Secretary nominee Dirk Kempthorne of Idaho today on the need for a forest recovery plan that returns family wage jobs and revenue to communities impacted by the loss of timber receipts due to federal protection of the spotted owl. 

            “These communities have suffered devastating losses to their livelihood, to their survival,” Smith told Kempthorne.  “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is responsible for the recovery of the spotted owl and yet sixteen years later we still don’t have a recovery plan for the spotted owl. We need you to have one and we need it fast.”

            Senator Smith told Kempthorne the county payments safety net is necessary until timber receipts can be returned to county coffers.

            “Senator Wyden and I are going to fight with all the tools available for us to preserve some safety net.  When the federal government owns you and makes commitments and then it changes the deal, the change comes with a cost.” 

            Senator Smith stated a recovery plan for the spotted owl and a forest management plan is critical to the recovery of fire damaged lands and the economic stability of Oregon’s rural counties.  Smith also noted the impact the barred owl has had on the spotted owl. 

            Senator Smith’s comments came during a hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that reviewed the nomination of Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne to be Secretary of the Interior.  The U.S. Department of Interior manages over 2 million acres of forest land in western Oregon and another 14 million acres across the state.   In the early 1990s, the Endangered Species Act blocked logging, stopping the generation of timber receipts for counties.  Senator Smith is currently working to renew the county payments program to provide revenue for schools and roads. 


Click here for an audio file of U.S. Senator Gordon H. Smith speaking at today’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing.




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