The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released Friday, Oct. 11, the environmental assessment for the reclassification of public domain lands as part of the implementation of the Western Oregon Tribal Fairness Act (Act).
President Trump signed the Act into law on Jan. 8, 2018. It directed the BLM to transfer 14,708 acres of public lands to be held in trust for the benefit of the Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians. Additionally, it directed the BLM to hold in trust 17,812 acres for the benefit of the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians.
In addition to transferring these lands into trust for the Tribes, the Act also requires the BLM to identify and convert approximately 32,500 acres of public domain lands to be managed under the Oregon and California Lands (O&C lands) Act of 1937. Reclassifying these lands as O&C lands will allow 18 western Oregon counties to share in a portion of receipts from timber sales on these lands, which directly benefit local communities that depend on timber for jobs and economic development.
The Act requires that the public domain lands be reclassified, approximately equal in acreage and condition as the Oregon and California grant lands that were conveyed to and are now held in trust for the tribes. The reclassification of public domain lands to O&C lands will not change the management of the land, which is covered under the 2016 Northwestern and Coastal Oregon Resource Management Plan and the Southwestern Oregon Resource Management Plan.
Timber sales on public domain lands do not result in any direct payments to counties, whereas the Oregon and California Lands Act of 1937 provides that 50 percent of receipts from the sale of timber on O&C lands be allocated annually among the 18 western Oregon counties. The allocation formula is based on each county’s proportion of the 1915 assessed value of the O&C lands and will not be affected by this effort. This effort will examine which public domains will be reclassified under the Oregon and California Lands Act of 1937 to best meet the statutory intent of the Act.
The reclassified lands may be within any of the following Oregon and California grant land counties: Benton, Clackamas, Columbia, Coos, Curry, Douglas, Jackson, Josephine, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Tillamook, Washington, and Yamhill Counties.
The BLM will be accepting public comments on the environmental assessment for 30 days. The comment period will close on Nov. 12. A copy of the environmental assessment and information about submitting comments is available at: https://bit.ly/32YeWDD
An interactive map that details the location of the public domain lands that are being examined for reclassification, along with other planning materials, is available online at: