Helium bill could help Southern Oregon

Helium bill could help Southern Oregon

A bill authorizing the sale of federally owned helium could raise money to extend timber payments to rural counties, including $17 million to Douglas County.

Douglas County Commissioner Susan Morgan said Thursday if the extension also wins approval in the House, it will help replenish the county’s budget reserves but would not solve the larger problem of the loss of timber revenues to Douglas County.

Under the helium bill, co-sponsored by Wyden, Secure Rural Schools funding would be extended for one year. Wyden initiated the program in 2000 to compensate rural counties for their declining shares of federal logging revenues. Since then, the program has brought more than $2.8 billion to 33 Oregon counties. The extension would bring them another $100 million.

Read more at OPB.