Long ago, there was a railroad called the Oregon & California that was given land to build a railroad. The railroad went bankrupt, and the federal government took back the land. 70% of Josephine County is O&C land still held by the feds.
When Josephine County was young and too rugged and remote to be easily accessed, the O&C lands were available first for loggers to log for $2 an acre, and then for farmers to homestead; the trees were an obstruction to potential farmers. Being so remote, little timber and land was sold.
By the time that advancing technology and the growth of the road system had opened up the O&C counties to logging, the second Roosevelt administration decided to stop homesteading of the O&C lands, keep them in forest for perpetual timber production, and share the timber sales with the counties.
This was a windfall for the O&C county governments, making their revenue directly off of timber sales, rather than indirectly through taxes on economic activity. With the citizens of the county sometimes paying no taxes to the county at all, most were happy with the arrangement, though it stopped most of our land from being put to more productive uses. What the citizens didn’t realize is that direct revenue and no taxes meant that county government had no stake in the prosperity of its citizens.
County government depended on timber sales and the feds’ allowance of them. But the powers in Washington DC have no real stake in the product of the O&C lands. The elites decided that our forests are more valuable to them as playgrounds than for timber production, and we should serve tourists instead of cutting timber and making lumber.
So now we have forests mostly without loggers and mills, just as when Josephine County was young. Loggers have mostly moved on to other work; lumber mills have shut down, one by one. The feds are working on tying up our land in official, permanent wilderness that makes even less money than timber cutting.
Federal administrations having taken away the timber revenue base of the O&C counties, Congress gave us charity for a while, but they have lately signalled that such charity is about to end. They will keep our land and no longer pay for their use of it. They figure that O&C counties can make their revenue from taxes, like all other counties, while they enjoy our low-budget, low-revenue scenery. We should rely on taxes from our citizens, but to do it, we need to take back our land from the feds, homestead it, and use it as we see fit.