Timber payments to be extended | VailDaily.com

Timber payments to be extended

WASHINGTON – Payments to rural counties hurt by cutbacks in federal logging would continue for a year under a deal reached Thursday.Four Oregon House members – Republican Greg Walden and Democrats Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio and Darlene Hooley – said they had secured the one-year extension as part of an emergency spending bill for the Iraq war.Details were still being worked out, but lawmakers said the measure called for spending $400 million to help 700 counties in 39 states hurt by logging cutbacks. Most of the money goes to six Western states – Oregon, California, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska – although Mississippi, Arkansas and other rural states also receive significant payments.Democratic leaders – including House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, D-Wis., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. – signed off on the deal, lawmakers said.”The good news is that we have made great forward progress in forcing the federal government to keep its promise to rural communities,” Walden said. “The bad news is that the president has already threatened to veto the emergency supplemental over other issues, so there is still much work left to be done for this to become law.”The White House said Thursday that Bush would veto the House measure, which would require the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq in 2008. The bill provides nearly $100 billion the Bush administration has requested for fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.While the veto threat dampened his enthusiasm, DeFazio said it did not reflect White House concern about the timber spending.”It’s phenomenal news that we’re in the emergency supplemental. That’s the only short-term protection to avert massive layoffs and loss of critical services in Southwest Oregon and elsewhere in the United States,” DeFazio said.One Democratic House member said the timber payments could be removed from the bill before the final vote if enough lawmakers object. Some Republicans and fiscally conservative Democrats have said the war-spending bill should not include spending on domestic programs.—On the Net:List of states and timber payments:http://www.fs.fed.us/news/2006/releases/12/state-payments.html

Support Local Journalism