This article examines the long, contentious history of the Oregon & California Land Grant that produced federal forest lands now managed by the Bureau of Land Management. It discusses how these lands revested to the federal government following decades of corruption and scandal and analyzes the resulting congressionally created management structure that supported local county governments through the over-harvesting of lands for a half-century. The article proceeds to trace the fate of O&C lands through the “spotted owl wars” of the 1990s, the ensuing Northwest Forest Plan—which this Article explains in detail—the timber salvage rider of 1995, and the George W. Bush Administration’s unsuccessful attempts to change the compromise reached in the NWFP. The article then explains how decreases in timber harvesting and declines in federal payments have brought the counties reliant on these lands to the brink of insolvency and analyzes two current legislative proposals aimed at bolstering flagging economies through increased harvests on O&C lands. The article concludes by identifying significant economic and environmental flaws in both of these proposals and suggests several alternative revenue-producing options that could provide economic security and diversity to the counties without eviscerating the key environmental protections provided by the NWFP and other federal environmental protection statutes.
Michael C. Blumm & Tim Wigington,
The Oregon & California Railroad Grant Lands’ Sordid Past, Contentious Present, and Uncertain Future: A Century of Conflict
B.C. Envtl. Aff. L. Rev.