Oregon's senior U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden is optimistic that a bill renewing county timber payments will find its way through Congress.

Oregon's senior U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden is optimistic that a bill renewing county timber payments will find its way through Congress.

"I'm starting with two bedrock principles that we've got to have more active management and get more people back to work in the woods," the Democrat said.

The management is needed to thin woods that are overgrown and ripe for devastating wild fires, he said.

"The fires are getting bigger and we ought to go in there and clean that stuff out," he said.

He feels there is growing support for getting Oregonians back to work in the woods to boost employment.

"And there are millions and millions of acres of second growth that we ought to go in there and thin out," he said. "We need to get that to the mills or use it for biomass."

He will travel to Alaska this weekend to meet with U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who will be the senior Republican on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee in the next session. Wyden is in the incoming senior Democrat on the committee.

"Lisa has been a strong supporter of timber payments," he said. "We will be working together to try to get rural communities off this roller coaster."