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Shoun among several with forest bill concerns

Lake County Commissioner Dan Shoun is among a total of 14 south central and eastern Oregon officials that signed a letter voicing concerns for Sen. Ron Wyden’s Eastside Forest Bill.

The correspondence, which in its barest bones expressed the view that the bill does not go far enough in addressing forest health and economic problems in eastern Oregon, unified county commissioners and judges from Umatilla, Baker, Malheur, Union, Wheeler, Morrow, Gilliam, Sherman, Wallowa, Harney, Grant, Wasco, Klamath and Lake counties.

Speaking candidly on his reasons for signing the letter, Commissioner Shoun said he felt that the senator’s plan is “too prescriptive” and does not do enough to ease increased forest health management activities.

While he is glad to see the initiative behind the bill, Shoun notes that there is already an extensive process and related regulations with regard to public lands management practices.

“We could sink a ship with all the paperwork we have on managing resources,” he said.  “There’s so much work that needs to be done, and it needs to be done in a manner that gets us through the acreage in a 20-year span.”

Needed work includes harvest cuts, fish habitat improvement and stream restoration; all of which are elements that can create jobs, Shoun said.

Reduction of fire costs over time would be significant, he noted, along with the related environmental benefits.

On the whole, however, Shoun said he’s glad to see the senator working toward a viable solution on forest health issues.

“He’s trying,” he said. “I applaud him… but, at the same time, it’s not going to get us there.”

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