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PNS Daily Newscast - September 18, 2020 

A federal judge slams the brakes on U.S. Postal Service changes nationwide; and we take you to the state 'out front' for clean elections.

2020Talks - September 18, 2020 

Trump slams the 1619 project on Constitution Day, and Pennsylvania's Supreme Court makes some election changes.

Report: What Mandated Timber Harvests Would Mean for OR

February 17, 2012

PORTLAND, Ore. – County payments under the Secure Rural Schools program have kept some of Oregon's most rural counties going, with federal dollars to fund their local schools and services. Now that the program has expired, several alternatives have been suggested for counties that are made up of mostly non-taxable federal land.

This week, one bill - the Federal Forest County Revenue, Schools and Jobs Act (HR 4019) - has been the subject of a congressional subcommittee hearing, and also a new report that details why it might not work. The report says in Oregon, the bill would require cutting 30 times the number of board-feet of timber as last year, in order to raise enough money to replace the county payments program.

Economist Mark Haggerty is with Montana-based Headwaters Economics, the nonpartisan group that crunched the numbers.

"For Oregon, they would have to cut 10 billion board-feet. The highest single-year timber harvest between 1980 and 2010 was only four billion board-feet. So, they would have to cut a significantly higher amount in order to meet the revenue targets in the Act."

The report concludes that bill's approach might not fit counties today, either fiscally or politically. Haggerty explains that the original county payments law was based on using public lands to produce commercial products.

"That made a lot of sense back in 1908-1910, when it was written. That model may not work today - the economy has changed, the commodity markets have changed. And we might need to think more broadly about how we support rural communities."

The report says Oregon would generate millions more dollars for its counties if the bill became law, but other states would lose millions. It says the county payments program used a formula to distribute federal dollars that was more fair than the current, commodities-based proposal would be. It also notes that 81 counties across the country depend on county payments for more than ten percent of their budgets.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.). Another proposal - by Oregon Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-4th Dist.), Kurt Schrader (D-5th Dist.), and Greg Walden (R-2nd Dist.) - would significantly increase logging on Bureau of Land Management lands to fund county payments.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR