Rural counties win billion dollar lawsuit against Oregon and ODF

OREGON — A jury has decided in favor of more than a dozen rural Oregon counties in a billion-dollar lawsuit against the state of Oregon and the Oregon Department of Forestry.

Two of those counties are Josephine and Klamath.

The case has been working its way through the legal system for roughly 4 years.

On Wednesday, a Linn County jury ruled the state of Oregon breached its contract with timber counties West of the cascades.

The rural counties say they were missing out on millions each year because the state doesn’t log public forests as timber companies do on private land.

The ruling means more than a dozen counties and taxing districts will be awarded just over 1 billion dollars in total.

“They do have to follow the contract and the highest purpose of the land was for harvest and resources back to the county,” said Lily Morgan, Josephine County Commissioner. “It was a huge, long, drawn-out battle and we’re grateful for the jury’s response.”

Commissioner Morgan says Josephine County should see just over $100,000, however, she doesn’t anticipate they’ll get the money anytime soon.

Klamath County Commissioner Donnie Boyd says he doesn’t believe Klamath will get any money because the forest has been managed fairly closely to the state forest plan.

Jackson County did not join the lawsuit.

In a statement to NBC5 News on Thursday, the Governor’s Office says they plan to appeal the decision:

“Yesterday’s verdict was not an unexpected first step in what will be a lengthier legal process, and it would be premature at this point to make budget decisions based on the jury’s decision. ODF and the Department of Justice will be reviewing options for next steps, including appealing this decision.”

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