News Stories Tue., May 8, 2018

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced that the Bureau of Land Management will issue payments totaling $14 million for Fiscal Year 2018 to 18 counties in western Oregon eligible under the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act extension. The BLM manages the Secure Rural Schools program in Oregon and California Railroad Revested Lands, known as the O&C Lands, in concert with the U.S. Forest Service. Congressman Greg Walden applauded the announcement and said he would continue working to find long-term solutions to ensure Oregon’s rural communities have the resources they need to succeed.

SEATTLE (AP) — Federal and state funds totaling $1 million have been set aside to study a new endangered species protection plan in Oregon forests, a decade after a similar effort stalled amid controversy. The money is earmarked to pay for the first step in laying out new rules for protecting endangered species in 630,000 acres of state-owned forest land west of the Cascades, including large tracts on the state’s northern coast. The plan would consider species including the spotted owl and marbled murrelet, and set guidelines for timber harvesting and recreational use. Officials hope the study phase will take about a year, followed by a year to craft the rules themselves, and a final year of review, said Cindy Kolomechuk, leader of the project at the Oregon Department of Forestry.

Dozens of Indian Country leaders are on Capitol Hill this week to present their budget priorities to key members of Congress. The House Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies has lined up a slate of witnesses for two days of hearings on Wednesday and Thursday. The testimony from tribes and Indian organization, representing every region of the nation, will be used to develop the appropriations bill for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Indian Health Service and other key agencies. Wednesday’s hearings include witnesses representing the Quinault Nation, Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, Squaxin Island Tribe, Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, Puyallup Tribe, Confederated Tribes of the Colville, Swinomish Tribal Community, Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board, Inter-tribal Timber Council, Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, among several others.