Oregon appears set to lead the way in an innovative approach to protecting forestlands. A new state law allows local governments to form "forest authorities," which can purchase forests using government bonds. The authority retires the bond with the revenue generated by sustainable-yield timber cutting and perhaps even recreation fees. The upshot is that local governments can preserve both timber jobs and forests, rather than losing them to sprawling development. It’s not surprising that the first forest authority will be near Bend, where population is booming and development is rampant.
Conservationists in Washington tried the same tactic a few years back when the Evergreen Forest Trust attempted to purchase 100,000 acres of Weyerhauser forest in King County. The attempt ultimately sputtered out because Congress dragged its feet on approving tax-exempt bonds (which are more attractive to investors) for conservation measures. But Oregon’s Republican Senator Gordon Smith is going to try again.
The Eugene Register-Guard has the full story.