Andy Kerr

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

Western Oregon BLM Federal Public Forestlands:

The O&C Timber Sale Revenue Sharing Formula: 50% or 75%?

Two percentages are thrown about as to the revenue sharing formula for the O&C counties under the O&C Lands Act of 1937. Is it 50% or 75%?

The O&C Lands Act of 1937 said 50% to the counties, 25% to (BLM to) administer the lands and 25% to reimburse the federal treasury for previous payments to the counties for "back taxes" incurred between 1916 when the once-private lands were returned to the federal domain. Once the latter obligation was paid off, that 25% also went to the O&C counties. So it's 75% by statute today.

However, in the early 1960s, the counties astutely waived one-third of their legally allowed 75% share (25% of the total) back to BLM for management, relieving growing congressional opposition to the very favorable terms of the Oregon and California Lands Act. During that period of time, 25% of revenues were deposited in the federal treasury. The O&C counties beneficence coincidentally had the effect of increasing BLM’s budget to allow it to build more roads and offer more timber for sale, so the counties net revenues actually increased.

When the northern spotted owl hit the fan in the early 1990s, Congress began enacting special payment laws that temporarily suspended the 75% O&C formula. If Congress discontinues that practice, the O&C counties will get 75% of gross timber receipts, leaving management costs to the federal taxpayers.