Two legislators want to bring control of federal railroad lands back into the hands of the state with a new bill proposed for February’s session.
State Senators Fred Girod, R-Lyons, and Jason Atkinson, R-Central Point, have proposed a bill requesting that the federal government give “full management authority” of the Oregon and California Railroad grant lands to the state government.
The lawmakers say this change would resuscitate local economies and better protect forest health.
Currently, rural counties receive federal money intended to replace revenue lost because the lands belong to the federal government instead of the state, according to the senators.
“Every few years Oregon counties are pushed to the brink of catastrophe when federal timber payments expire,” said Senator Girod in a statement to the press. “It is time we took back control of our own destiny.”
Senator Atkinson, likewise, said that if those federal subsidies stop, it’s “only just” for that land to be returned to the state for “its stewardship and benefit.”
The bill, Senate Joint Memorial 201, must pass both the House and the Senate before going to the governor for his signature in order to be officially presented to Congress and President Obama.