WASHINGTON, D.C. - The House Resources Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health yesterday passed two bills sponsored by Congressman Bob Smith (R-OR), Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, designed to increase management efficiency of public lands in Oregon.
Smith's first bill, H.R. 3796, would expand upon the cooperative working relationship between the Rogue River National Forest and Medford Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The bill will provide for the BLM and United States Forest Service (USFS) to use funds from the sale or exchange of the McAndrews Service Center to expand and improve the current BLM site, allowing for both agencies to work in the same location. Under the legislation, no additional taxpayer funds will be used for the collocation.
"The BLM and the Forest Service currently occupy offices across town from one another. Sharing office space would save taxpayers' money and improve the management of the Rogue River National Forest and Oregon's public lands. It's basic common-sense," Smith said.
Smith's second bill, the Rogue River National Forest Interchange Act of 1998 (H.R. 3186), would transfer administrative jurisdiction of BLM land within the boundaries of the Rogue River National Forest to the USFS. In exchange, administrative jurisdiction of isolated USFS land adjacent to the BLM district would be transferred to the BLM. This land exchange will allow for better, more uniform management by both agencies, provide for better use and distribution of agency resources, ensure quality land management, and reduce confusion for Oregonians who utilize the lands.
"It's very inefficient for the BLM and the USFS to manage these lands under their current jurisdiction. Because rules and regulations vary according to the agency, it's unclear to many people who they should contact for permits and information regarding these parcels. My legislation will reduce confusion among agencies and create a simpler and more effective system of land management so the public can continue to use and enjoy their land," Smith said.
Smith represents the Second Congressional District - which includes most of eastern, southern, and central Oregon - in the U.S. House of Representatives. The District is home to ten national forests.