Wyden pledges to renew, expand federal subsidies to timber counties

Wyden pledges to renew, expand federal subsidies to timber counties
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., was instrumental in creating the timber payments law.

GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — Sen. Ron Wyden is pledging to renew and expand the federal subsidies to timber counties known as Secure Rural Schools and Communities.

The Oregon Democrat says that for the next year or two, he wants to renew the payments that brought $105 million to Oregon in 2012.

And as a permanent solution, he wants to go beyond timber country and extend similar payments to rural counties with federal lands and waters being tapped for mining and energy.

Josephine County Commissioner Simon Hare, for one, is not happy with the idea.

He says Wyden's pledge to renew the payments makes it likely voters will turn down a tax increase to restore deep cuts to law enforcement. Hare adds he would rather Congress focus on producing more timber from federal lands.

Voters in Lane County will decide a 5-year levy in May to fund the jail. The measure would make up in part for lost timber revenues and timber county payments.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press