Linn Co. to file $1.4 billion lawsuit against state of Oregon ov - KPTV - FOX 12

Linn Co. to file $1.4 billion lawsuit against state of Oregon over forest management

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Linn County intends to file a $1.4 billion class action lawsuit against the state of Oregon for what it calls a breach of contract with Forest Trust Land counties.

The Linn County Board of Commissioners announced the planned lawsuit Wednesday.  

Fifteen Oregon counties receive revenue from the management of forest lands. Linn County alleges that the state is violating its contract with those counties by implementing a management plan that has resulted in an annual $35 million reduction in revenue.

Forest Trust Land revenue is distributed to taxing districts within the counties for services including public safety, education, libraries and organizations like 4H, according to a Linn County release.

The county notified Gov. Kate Brown and state forester Doug Decker of its plan to pursue the lawsuit, representing 150 beneficiaries of timber sales receipts from harvests of Oregon Forest Trust lands.

"This breach of contract has had devastating effects on local communities that have seen both poverty and unemployment rates skyrocket in the last two decades as a result of the current practices," said Roger Nyquist, chair of the Linn County Board of Commissioners. "While there has been much talk about the plight of rural Oregon by statewide policy makers, there has been no action to address the fundamental problem. This litigation serves as an action step to improve the local economies of small towns located near county Forest Trust Lands all over the state."

Linn County alleges that the state first breached the contract in 1998 by de-emphasizing revenue generation in exchange for other objectives, while also implementing a management plan without the informed consent of the counties.

The lawsuit is seeking $35 million in damages per year from 2001 to now, as well as pre-judgment interest and future damages sufficient to yield a revenue stream of $35 million per year in perpetuity.

Wednesday's letter of intent is required as a 30-day notice before the lawsuit can be officially filed.

The Forest Trust Land counties are: Benton, Clackamas, Clatsop, Columbia, Coos, Douglas, Josephine, Klamath, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, Marion, Polk, Tillamook and Washington. 

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