Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber pledges to develop recommendations to amend federal laws to allow increased logging in state's federal forests, tells Oregon Board of Forestry that landscape approach is needed, not 'isolated islands of ownership'

LOS ANGELES , January 10, 2014 () – Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber has pledged to develop his own set of recommendations that would modernize federal environmental laws to allow logging and other activities to be increased in the state's federal forests, according to a report by the Statesman Journal.

Testifying on Wednesday, Jan. 8, to the Oregon Board of Forestry, Kitzhaber said the state had no authority over federal lands, and called for a landscape approach to the management of federal forests, rather than "isolated islands of ownership."

Federal forests account for around 60% of forestland in Oregon, and harvests in those lands have dropped by about 90% since 1989, reported the Statesman Journal. Kitzhaber is concerned that the decline has depressed rural economies and left forests vulnerable to insect infestation and wildfire, the Statesman Journal reported.

At Wednesday's meeting, the board adopted a plan that Kitzhaber asked a subcommittee to develop a year ago. The plan provides for increasing logging, restoration and other activities on federal forests.

Kitzhaber commended the work of the subcommittee, but said he wanted to take it further by developing a proposal that he would take to Oregon’s Congressional delegation and governors of other Western states.

Kitzhaber stressed that he did not support returning to past harvest levels or practices, adding: "I am a staunch and unwavering supporter of our nation’s environmental laws.” But he said he did not think it was unreasonable to take another look at the laws after 40 years, and consider how they were affecting the state's ability to responsibly manage its federal forestlands.

The primary source of this article is the Statesman Journal, Salem, Oregon, on Jan. 9, 2014.

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