A little discussed provision in the Department of Forestry’s budget would have allotted $700, 000 to implement key recommendations of the Federal Forest Advisory Committee, a group of private and public stakeholders who met for over a year to figure out how to make our federal forests healthier for people, wildlife and jobs. The provision did not make it through a key legislative Subcommittee.
Key to the Federal Forest Advisory Committee’s recommendations was the treatment of thousands of acres of overgrown federal forests that put the forests at risk of wildfires and that could result in dozens of rural jobs. For every million dollar investment in treating overgrown federal forests, 17-23 jobs are created, according to a report by the University of Oregon. This is in addition to the public and environmental health and safety benefits of treatment.
The Natural Resources Subcommittee of the Ways and Means Committee considered the $700, 000 request, which was included in the Governor’s budget, and decided against it. Legislators argued that given vary limited resources and the statutory priority in the ODF budget on managing our state forest lands and supporting the implementation of the Forest Practices Act on private lands, that $700, 000 for federal forest lands, while critical, could not be funded this year.