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Carpenters' Union, Cattlemen's Association Announce Support of Forest Emergency Recovery and Research Act

Testimony to be delivered at legislative hearing on bill in Forests and Forest Health Subcommittee this morning

Washington, D.C.-The Forest Emergency Recovery and Research Act, H.R. 4200, continues to gain support from across America for its provisions to expedite emergency recovery and restoration efforts after catastrophic events in the nation's forests. 

Today, the Assistant Organizing Director of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America plans to testify formally before the House Resources Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health that the legislation "...takes the next logical step that will continue to move us toward healthier public forests," supplementing the Healthy Forests Restoration Act, which he said helps "reduce the risk of new fires" but "did not do anything to expedite salvage and reforestation projects after the fire."

Denny Scott, an Oregon resident and long-time member of the Carpenters Union, also plans to tell committee members that after a fire, dead and dying trees still have economic value, "...but that value does not last long as insects and rot quickly destroy the value of the timber.  Therefore, timber that could be cleared and processed in nearby mills, and therefore provide needed jobs in forest communities, instead lays decomposing on the forest floor."

"I would point out there is widespread agreement that the current system is a failure," Scott plans to testify, citing a statewide survey in Oregon showing a vast majority of respondents support quicker recovery and restoration action after a fire on public lands.

The Carpenters Union was joined in supporting the legislation by the Oregon Cattlemen's Association, which gave its support to the measure during their annual convention last weekend in central Oregon.

"As individuals and families who make our living off the land, ranchers deeply understand the importance of environmental responsibility and stewardship of both public and private lands.  The condition in which federal forests are left following a catastrophic event presents a threat to water quality, habitat and neighboring communities while simultaneously allowing a precious and renewable resource to rot until it loses all value.  The Forest Emergency Recovery and Research Act simply makes sense.  It allows land managers to work in partnership with local communities and interested parties to implement plans that will help restore the health of forests, providing both environmental and economic benefits," said Sharon Livingston, President of the Oregon Cattlemen's Association.

"The Forest Emergency Recovery and Research Act lets our federal land managers move more quickly to stop erosion and begin restoration work that is essential to long-term forest health and water quality," said the bill's author, U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), who chairs the Forests and Forest Health Subcommittee.

The measure is being discussed today before Walden's subcommittee following two years of hearings on the subject of forest recovery.  "Most of us understand that we need to fix the present system to allow for quicker action after a major event, such as a fire, windstorm or hurricane.  That's what the Forest Emergency Recovery and Research Act does.  Forest officials will still have to follow their forest plans, it just allows them to do that in four months rather than three years if an emergency situation arises," said Walden.

The Forest Emergency Recovery and Research Act will also receive praise from the academic world today with the testimony of Dr. Hal Salwasser, Dean of the College of Forestry at Oregon State University.  Dr. Salwasser refutes claims by those who argue that doing nothing after a catastrophic event is always the best course of action.

Salwasser plans to tell members, "...doing nothing in many places may in fact create the most harm for those places and their soils, waters, native plants and animals, resources of value to humans."

"Because forest restoration or recovery make sense only in relation to the designated purposes for places to be restored or recovered, thoughtful determination of whether nature or human intervention creates the most desirable outcome or poses the least 'harm' is needed.  H.R. 4200 is wise in calling for collaboration with states, Tribes, and citizens and for scientific peer and public review of assessments and environmental analyses to make those determinations," he added in written testimony.  Salwasser, prior to becoming the Dean of the School of Forestry, worked as a research station director in California and served as Regional Forester in the Northern Rockies.

"We've listened and learned a lot during our two years of hearings in the Subcommittee, and we've put to paper a balanced and thoughtful approach to solving the problems that stop quicker recovery efforts, quicker protection of our water sources and quicker restoration of our forest environments.  We must become better stewards of these precious federal lands," said Walden.

The Forest Emergency Recovery and Research Act has attracted more than 100 cosponsors from across the country since it was introduced in the U.S. House last week.

Walden, 48, represents the people of Oregon's Second District which is more than 70,000 square miles of eastern, central and southern Oregon and includes nine national forests.  He was one of the original authors of the successful Healthy Forest Restoration Act which provides federal land managers with a quicker system to reduce the threat of fires around communities and throughout the forests.





Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM  Pacific

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