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Tuesday, September 28, 2004

For Immediate Release

Two Walden Bills Passed by the U.S. House of Representatives

Legislation to provide forestry education for Oregonís youth, improved water quality and quantity in Medford head to Senate

Washington, D.C. Ė The U.S. House of Representatives today passed two pieces of legislation sponsored by U.S. Representative Greg Walden (R-OR) by voice vote with no objection. H.R. 4838, the Healthy Forest Youth Conservation Corps Act of 2004, establishes a program for young adults to gain experience in forestland management while helping to implement fuels reduction components of the Healthy Forest Restoration Act (HFRA), which Walden co-authored, signed into law last year. H.R. 3210, the Little Butte/Bear Creek Subbasins Water Feasibility Act of 2004, authorizes the Bureau of Reclamation to conduct a water resource feasibility study as part of the Water for Irrigation, Streams and the Economy (WISE) project.

Walden, who chairs the Resources Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health, introduced the Healthy Forest Youth Conservation Corps Act to give young adults ages 16 to 25 the opportunity to obtain skills and valuable education in forestland management while conducting work in fuels reduction projects on federal forestlands. Projects will be directed at efforts to prevent catastrophic fire and rehabilitate public land affected or altered by fires. Most notably, work will be done in accordance with HFRA plans to reduce hazardous fuels.

Young adults participating in the corps will be managed by the agency in charge of the given forestland, namely the Department of the Interiorís Bureau of Land Management or the U.S. Forest Service, part of the Department of Agriculture. The managing agency can contract directly with youth, or they can enter into contracts with state-level departments of natural resources, agriculture or forestry.

"Today, the House of Representatives demonstrated support not only for the education and development of future generations, but for the important work that needs to be done in our federal forests," said Walden. "The Youth Conservation Corps will be a tool for training young people, especially those who are disadvantaged, on the importance of responsible land stewardship while giving them hands-on training to better prepare them for future careers in forest management. Equally as important, the Corps will be engaging in proactive measures to prevent catastrophic wildfire, giving the kids a sense of pride and ownership in our public lands."

H.R. 3210, which helps foster the collaborative efforts between federal, state and local governments working on the Water for Irrigation, Streams and Economy (WISE) project, gives authority to the Bureau of Reclamation to conduct a water management feasibility study at the Little Butte and Bear Creek watersheds and release an environmental impact statement. The study will help the Projectís goals of increasing summer stream flows, improving water quality and temperature, and improving the irrigation system with no undue financial burden on the irrigation districts.

These goals are critical to residents of the Rogue Valley. According to the Rogue River Valley Irrigation District, "Modernizing the delivery infrastructure of the irrigation districts will conserve a significant amount of water while providing improved management capabilities and all but eliminating issues such as controlling moss and algae in the canal systems."

"Paving the way for the Bureau of Reclamation to conduct these studies makes great sense for water quality and quantity in the Rogue Valley," said Walden. "Water issues are critical across Oregon, and this bill will facilitate cooperation between federal, state and local entities when it comes to the management of this precious resource."

Congressman Walden represents the Second Congressional District of Oregon, which includes 20 counties in southern, central and eastern Oregon. He is a Deputy Whip in the House leadership structure and a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce as well as the Committee on Resources.







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