Medford, Ore. -- Last October, the President signed a one year extension of county timber payments, providing a lifeline to Oregon's forested counties. Now months later, the first payment of nearly $68 million dollars is coming from the Forest Service of the USDA and will be divided among many counties including several here in Southern Oregon.
Jackson County Commissioner Doug Breidenthal said they weren't sure the if the money was even going to come through this year.
But an unknown is now for sure, new numbers show exactly what seven Southern Oregon counties will be getting for the first of two federal timber payments.
The money received is based off a formula that includes the number of federal acres, poverty level, and number of road miles among many other factors.
Among the top for the first payment, Douglas County will get more than $9.2 million dollars, Klamath more than $8.6 million. Jackson, Curry, and Lake Counties will each see in the $2 million dollar range. These numbers many county commissioners said are dwindling.
Commissioner Breidenthal said "we were seeing large numbers coming in, it's been steadily declining every year since." Josephine County Commissioner Simon Hare said,"this is the lowest numbers we've ever received." That low number for Josephine County just over $1.6 million. Coos County will see more than $330,000 dollars.
With no long term plan in place, this could be the last of federal timber payments. Commissioner Hare said "there's no legislation right now that provides for any future dollars, this is it."
Stable long term funding is something many state and local county officials are looking for. "When we were working in the woods and providing for ourselves from the land, we were receiving an excess of $25 million dollars," said Commissioner Breidenthal.
Right now, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden is working on legislation. He said, "timber payments aren't enough, these communities also need jobs in the woods."
This first payment will go to the roads and education departments. This is just the start, the second payment estimated at $40 million dollars is coming from the Bureau of Land Management and those numbers are expected in the next 7 to 10 days.