Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Oregon GOP candidates agree on forest control

Candidates squaring off in the Republican primary, seeking to unseat Democrat Jeff Merkley in November, all support turning Oregon federal forests over to local ownership. Jo Rae Perkins, former Linn County GOP Chair, noted 53 percent of Oregon land is owned by the federal government. “This land should not be owned by the federal government. It needs to go back to the state and back into private ownership. Let the people take care of the land,” Perkins said. “We’ve got environmentalists who don’t even live in Oregon who want to bring a lawsuit against every timber sale there is. And then we have some lightning strikes and it all goes up in smoke. What’s the point? We’re spending billions and billions and billions of dollars every year to fight unnecessary forest fires. We’re leaving billions of dollars in taxes out there.” The federal forest issue was the most local of the many national and international items discussed. “I agree we can do a better job locally of controlling our public lands, managing our public lands than the federal government does. It’s actually complete dereliction of duty on the part of the federal government at this time,” said Conger. He noted Oregonians enjoy their open spaces, but with half of Oregon in federal hands, he said it’s out of balance. “We all know federal lands don’t pay taxes,” Conger said. “So if you live in Southern Oregon or a lot of Eastern Oregon, your communities are bankrupt, your schools are lacking money and there are no jobs available. It is tied intimately to mismanagement or non-management of our federal lands. That’s got to change.” Crawley advocated for full local control, with local panels deciding which trees are cut. “Folks from the community. Because it’s their resource ultimately,” he said. “It’s not a corporation’s and it’s not the federal government’s. These resources are ours and we are best capable of managing them.” “I support transferring federal lands back to local control, but to me it comes down to an issue of sovereignty,” Callahan said. “It’s about our state sovereignty, it’s about our local sovereignty. By having federal lands in federal control, they’re taking away our local sovereignty, they’re taking away our state sovereignty.”...more

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