Merkley, Wyden Introduce Bill to Aid Recovery for Timber Communities

Washington, D.C. –
Today, Oregon Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden introduced legislation to
help Oregon timber companies remain competitive and sustain economic
growth.  The Forest Harvest Opportunity Act will extend already-existing
contracts to companies to harvest timber on Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
lands when prices rebound rather than force companies to take a loss by
harvesting timber at current market rates.

“It’s our duty to ensure that the Oregon forestry industry
can remain competitive and get a fair shake during these tough economic times,”
said Merkley.  “By extending contracts for Oregon forestry companies,
we’re giving them the opportunity to harvest timber when prices are right and
provide them with the economic stability the companies, and the local
communities, need.”

legislation will make sure the Oregon timber industry has the flexibility it
needs in an economy that has seen drastically reduced timber prices,” Wyden
said. “By extending pre-existing contracts for harvesting on BLM land, this
bill will save jobs and make sure the industry can survive until timber prices

Oregon’s forestry industry currently employs thousands of Oregonians and
contributes hundreds of millions to the Oregon economy.  Because of the
economic recession and the housing market collapse, timber prices have also
fallen.  This bill will extend contracts already signed with forestry
companies for an additional three years so they can harvest timber on BLM lands
when prices rebound.

The Forest Harvest Opportunity Act is also cosponsored by
Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester of Montana.