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Federal timber funds back on the table

By RAELYNN RICARTE

News staff writer

March 10, 2007

Congressmen Greg Walden, R-Ore., and Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., might have gained a one-year reprieve for counties hurt by logging cutbacks in national forests.

A 12-month extension of the compensation program is included in the House version of the emergency supplemental bill. If approved, Hood River County and other rural areas with a tax base reduced by federal properties would not lose funding for essential services.

However, the Senate version of the bill, which primarily funds the War on Terror, will not be released for about two weeks. So, it is unknown at this time whether Senators Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Gordon Smith, R-Ore., will also prevail in their efforts to temporarily extend the county payments law.

And even if they do, President Bush has vowed to veto any legislation that sets benchmarks for withdrawing troops from Iraq.

“The good news is that we have made great forward progress in forcing the federal government to keep its promise to rural communities. This development shows that a bipartisan, constant team effort the kind Oregon put together can really pay off,” said Walden, who resides in Hood River.

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