O&C Lands

The Oregon and California Railroad Revested Lands, known as the O&C Lands, lie in a checkerboard pattern through eighteen counties of western Oregon. These lands contain more than 2.4 million acres of forests with a diversity of plant and animal species, recreation areas, mining claims, grazing lands, cultural and historical resources, scenic areas, wild and scenic rivers, and wilderness. Most of the O&C lands are administered by the Bureau of Land Management.

The history of the O&C lands goes back to 1866 when Congress established a land grant to promote rapid completion of the Oregon section of the Portland to San Francisco railroad. The Oregon and California Railroad company was deeded about 12,800 acres per mile of track laid, providing incentive to complete the railroad. The land grant required the company to sell 160 acre parcels at no more than $2.50 an acre to qualified settlers. In 1916, Congress took back the title on more than 2 million acres of these lands after the company failed to sell the land to settlers. Three years later, Congress revested 93,000 acres of Coos Bay Wagon Road grant lands due to similar circumstances.

The Oregon and California Revested Lands Sustained Yield Management Act of 1937 put the O&C lands under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of the Interior. The lands were classified as timberlands to be managed for permanent forest production, and the timber was to be sold, cut, and removed in conformity with the principle of sustained yield for the purpose of providing a permanent source of timber supply. The Act also provided for protecting watersheds, regulating stream flow, contributing to the economic stability of local communities and industries, and providing recreational facilities.

    Secure Rural Schools Act

    In April 2015, the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act was reauthorized as a part of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (Public Law 114-10). The new language in the reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act extension locked-in the allocation elections made by counties for Fiscal Year 2013 for two fiscal years. The deadline to initiate a Title II or Title III project has been extended to September 30, 2017, and the deadline to obligate Title II or Title III funds has been extended to September 30, 2018.

    The funding includes approximately $35.5 million in monies for Fiscal Year 2015. The $35.5 million figure is the sum of all titles paid to both Oregon and California (O&C) and Coos Bay Wagon Road counties. Of this amount approximately $3 million is available under Title II of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act. These funds can be used to implement special restoration projects on Federal lands approved by resource advisory committees.

    Over the years, Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act projects have provided trail maintenance, culvert replacement or removal, soil improvement, vegetation/density management, wildfire hazard reduction, stream channel enhancement, control of noxious and exotic weeds, and opportunities for youth training and employment.

    Payment Charts

    Fiscal Year 2016 Timber Receipts

    In January 2017, BLM distributed of over $19 million to 18 counties in western Oregon.  These payments follow a formula established in the 1937 Oregon and California (O&C) Lands Act and the Coos Bay Wagon Road (CBWR) Act, both of which authorize timber receipt-based payments to western Oregon counties, and both of which remain in effect following the expiration of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act.

    Payments made through the authority of the O&C Lands Act and CBWR Act are essential to O&C counties and help offset county timber and tax revenue not generated by Federally-managed forests.  The counties use these funds for county services such as law enforcement, road maintenance, health services, schools, libraries, and other county services.

    The O&C Lands Act provides that 50 percent of receipts from the sale of timber on O&C lands are distributed among the 18 O&C counties including Benton, Clackamas, Columbia, Coos, Curry, Douglas, Jackson, Josephine, Klamath, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Tillamook, Washington, and Yamhill counties. Coos and Douglas counties have Coos Bay Wagon Road and O&C lands within their boundaries, so payments to those counties are covered by both the 1937 and 1939 statutes.

    2016 O&C and Coos Bay Wagon Road Timber Receipts Charts

    Right Sidebar Content: 

    Featured Video

    Watch the @BLMOregon YouTube video about the O&C Lands Act of 1937.