bill would create "model" for purchase of more
land for "future conservation"
BEND - U.S. Rep. Jennifer Dunn is hopeful a bill
allowing the Evergreen Forest Trust to issue tax-exempt
bonds for the purchase of 99,000 acres of the Snoqualmie
Tree Farm will be passed by Congress this year, creating
a "model" upon which future land conservation
efforts can be based.
11, 2002 - The bill, called the Community Forestry and
Agriculture Conservation Act, would change current law
to grant organizations like the Evergreen Forest Trust
the ability to harvest resources such as timber from
lands to be preserved.
In the case of the Snoqualmie Tree Farm, timber sales
would be used to pay off $185 million in tax-exempt
revenue bonds issued for its purchase.
The proposed purchase-and-sale agreement between the
Evergreen Forest Trust and Weyerhaeuser Co., which owns
the tree farm, was announced earlier this year. The
change in law is needed for the purchase to be
Dunn, a Republican serving the 8th District, introduced
the Community Forestry and Agriculture Conservation Act
in the House of Representatives, while Sen. Patty Murray
introduced the bill in the Senate.
The Senate Finance Committee recently approved the
Charity Aid Recovery and Empowerment Act of 2002, of
which the Community Forestry and Agriculture
Conservation Act is a part.
At a meeting with constituents Monday, July 1, at the
Mount Si Senior Center in North Bend, Dunn said she
believed the full Senate would hold a vote on the bill
this year, with it being included in a large omnibus
bill before the end of the session. She added the bill
has the support of the Bush administration.
"I've talked to the president's tax folks; they
like it," Dunn said. And she will urge President
Bush to visit the Snoqualmie Tree Farm, to be renamed
the Evergreen Forest at Snoqualmie if the purchase goes
"I want him to see this. This is a great approach
to the environment," Dunn said.
The congresswoman added once the Community Forestry and
Agriculture Conservation Act is approved, it would pave
the way for other preservation efforts.
"It would become the model," Dunn said of the
Snoqualmie Tree Farm deal.
In addition, there was good news for the 53 local
ex-Weyerhaeuser employees who were laid off as a result
of the proposed purchase and sale agreement.
Snoqualmie Mayor Fuzzy Fletcher told Dunn the city has
talked with The Campbell Group LLC, which would manage
the Snoqualmie Tree Farm for the Evergreen Forest Trust,
about the employees, and the company was open to hiring
them for contract logging.
"There isn't anyone who knows those woods better
than the ones who just walked out of them,"
The proposed Snoqualmie Tree Farm purchase was one of
several issues addressed by Dunn at the meeting, chief
among them Medicare, homeland security and the estate
Dunn co-authored the Medicare Modernization and
Prescription Drug Act of 2002 that was passed by the
House on June 27. It creates a Medicare prescription
drug benefit program for seniors beginning in 2005.
Seniors who enroll in the program pay a $33 monthly
premium and $250 deductible, however, it would be waived
for seniors with incomes of less than 150 percent of the
poverty level and subsidized for seniors with incomes of
up to 175 percent of the poverty level.
Seniors making more than that would pay 20 percent of
the cost for drugs between $251 and $1,000, and 50
percent between $1,001 and $2,000.
If a senior's prescription drug costs exceed $3,700 a
year, Medicare would 100 percent of the cost, no matter
the senior's income level.
"Now that's very good coverage for someone who has
catastrophic drug costs," Dunn said.