Douglas County Commissioner Tim Freeman was invited to the White House to hear President Donald Trump speak about the environment.
Freeman said in a press release the invite came only five days ahead of the July 8 event, called “Presidential Remarks on America’s Environmental Leadership.”
Also attending the event were members of the #TimberUnity group, a political group that galvanized over the rally in opposition to the failed Oregon climate bill House Bill 2020. Marie Bowers Stagg of Harrisburg and Todd Stoffel of Washougal, Washington represented that group. State Rep. David Brock Smith, R-Port Orford, also attended.
Jackson County Commissioner Colleen Roberts was also there and was invited to speak at the White House about wildfires and smoke impacts in Southern Oregon.
Freeman said in a press release that the president spoke about the need for proper forest management, including clean air and water but also fire resiliency, timber harvests, hunting and fishing.
Freeman believes he was chosen to attend because of his advocacy for management of the federal timberlands formerly owned by the Oregon & California Railroad. Money from harvests on those lands historically made up a major part of the county’s budget.
Freeman serves as president of the Association of O&C Counties and has visited Washington, D.C. several times over the past few years to lobby for increased federal timber harvests.
The attendees at the July 8 event were treated to a tour of the White House interior and full military pageantry. Freeman also met several cabinet members, including the new Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt. He said Bernhardt expressed renewed commitment to working on a solution for O&C timber issues.
“This invitation was quite the honor to receive, and I was excited to represent Douglas County, as well as O&C Counties to continue to help educate individuals at the Federal level of the issues we face here in the West,” Freeman said.