Oregon Is The Latest Target Of Right-Wing Effort To Get Rid Of National Forests

A draft bill recently released by U.S. Representative Greg Walden (R-OR) proposes to dispose of hundreds of thousands of acres of national forest land in Oregon’s Klamath River Basin so that it can be clear-cut or auctioned off to the highest bidder.
The proposal,
which is the latest in a series of attempts by right-wing politicians to seize or sell-off national public lands, is so controversial that observers say it could spark a renewed water war in Rep. Walden’s home state of Oregon.

The Klamath Basin, a 15,000-plus square mile river basin spanning regions of both Oregon and California, has long been the site of fierce disputes over the allocation of scarce water supplies and the collapse of fisheries and wildlife habitat.

Over the past several years, however, a wide range of stakeholders — including farmers, tribes, landowners, conservationists, and national, state, and local governments — engaged in a collaborative process aimed at resolving the decades-long Klamath water crisis and restoring economic stability and environmental integrity to the basin. These negotiations resulted in three bipartisan agreements which seek to remove four hydroelectric dams along the Klamath River, promote water quality and wildlife restoration, and provide local farmers, businesses and communities with economic stability and certainty.

“The draft bill [Congressman Walden] released today leaves out dam removal and instead replaces it with a giveaway of public lands,” Josh Saxon, Councilman of the Karuk Tribe, said in a statement. “Communities in the basin left partisanship at the door to hammer out a solution. Mr. Walden must do the same.”

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