Andy Kerr

Conservationist, Writer, Analyst, Operative, Agitator, Strategist, Tactitian, Schmoozer, Raconteur

Western Oregon BLM Federal Public Forestlands:

The Special Case of the O&C Lands in the National Forest System

Almost 0.5 million acres of National Forest System lands in Western Oregon are "O&C" lands for the purposes of revenue sharing. In every other way, they are National Forest System lands. The Three Clearcuteers proposal would effectively privatize about half of them, leaving pock-marked National Forest lands.

This is a close-up of the map prepared by Oregon Wild. The light green is USDA Forest Service National Forest System land. The dark green is BLM land that would be transferred to the USFS under the Three Clearcuteers proposal. The red is BLM land that would be effectively privatized into a timber trust for the sole benefit of the O&C counties. The purple is USDA Forest Service O&C land within the National Forest System. Nearly one-half of the purple would be treated the same as the red on the map.

Congress granted the lands to the Oregon and California Railroad in 1869. It took them back in 1916. In between, various Presidents proclaimed what today are the Mount Hood, Rogue River, Siskiyou, Siuslaw, Willamette and Winema National Forests. In 1937, Congress passed the O&C Lands Act, which provided for management by an agency known as the Bureau of Land Management (after its creation in 1946).

The "controverted" lands were federal public forestlands within proclaimed National Forest boundaries; but were they National Forest lands? It wasn't an issue between the Forest Service and BLM until BLM started putting up timber sales inside the National Forests. Congress resolved the issue on June 24, 1954 (68 Stat. 270; 43 U.S.C. §§ 1181(g)) by saying that they are O&C lands insofar as revenue sharing with the O&C counties goes, but they are in all other ways National Forest System lands:

Those unselected and unpatented odd-numbered sections within the indemnity limits of the Oregon and California Railroad land grant authorized by the Act of July 25, 1866 (14 Stat. 239), as amended by the Act of April 10, 1869 (16 Stat. 47), and for which payment was made by the United States to such railroad or its successors in interest under the Act of June 9, 1916 (39 Stat. 218), pursuant to the decree in the case of United States against Oregon and California R. R. Co. (8 F. (2d) 645), which were included within the boundaries of national forests by proclamations of the President of the United States issued under the dates of June 17, 1892, September 28, 1893, October 5, 1906, January 25, 1907, March 1, 1907, and March 2, 1907, are declared to be revested Oregon and California Railroad grant lands; and said lands shall continue to be administered as national-forest lands by the Secretary of Agriculture subject to all laws, rules, and regulations applicable to the national forests: Provided, That all revenues hereafter derived from said lands and those revenues heretofore derived from such lands and placed in special deposit by agreement between the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of the Interior shall be disposed of in accordance with the provisions of section 1181f of this title and said lands shall not hereafter be subject to the provisions of any other laws or parts of laws which otherwise prescribe the disposal or distribution of receipts from lands of the United States, except that none of the provisions of this Act shall affect revenues distributed prior to June 24, 1954.

See the this map of the Three Clearcuteers Proposal by Oregon Wild. The purple is National Forest O&C land. Under the Three Clearcuteers (DeFazio, Walden and Schrader) proposal nearly one-half of the purple lands would be effectively privatized for the benefit of the O&C counties.