Senate passes bill to restore timber county funds

GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) The Senate has passed a bill that includes a one-year extension of a federal subsidy for timber counties, including about $100 million for Oregon.

Sen. Ron Wyden had added the extension of the now expired Secure Rural Schools program to a bill addressing the impeding shutdown of the national helium reserve, which passed the Senate on Thursday.

The House has passed a helium bill, but without the timber county funding, and the fate of that program remains uncertain.

Mike McArthur of the Association of Oregon Counties cheered the bill's passage, saying it would give struggling counties another year of funding while Congress considers legislation that would boost logging on federal lands, particularly those that fund rural counties in Western Oregon.

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