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Biscuit Fire Decision Makes Sense, Illustrates Need for Review of Post Fire Process, Walden Says

PRESS RELEASE 6/1/04

GUYTON, GA - "The Bush Administration's decision to split up the post-fire work on the Biscuit Fire into three separate plans should expedite removal of dead and diseased trees worth nearly $13 million and create as many as 2,200 jobs.  By allowing separate appeals on each plan, rather than grouping the entire project under one plan where even non-controversial harvests would be appealed, the likelihood of getting some timber out while it still has value is dramatically increased," said U.S. Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR), Chairman of the Resources Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health.  Walden made his comments following a field hearing he chaired today in Guyton, Georgia.  Walden had talked with Bush officials about the merits of such a plan.

"This concept makes sense for the taxpayers, the economies of the affected communities and for the health of the forest.  It means we can generate revenue that could pay for nearly half of the restoration costs.  And for out-of-work Oregonians this means real, family wage jobs in rural communities," said Walden.

"However, I cannot imagine another land manager - other than the federal government - that would take this long to design a recovery plan that is still open to appeal and litigation.  Waiting nearly two years to decide what to do after a fire seems a bit long.  I intend to hold hearings in the Forests and Forest Health Subcommittee on the post fire environment process.  We will bring in the nation's leading experts to share with the Congress what the science shows is the best course of action," said Walden.

"I recognize that fire is a natural part of the forest environment.  It's time to find out if we can restore a conifer forest in half the time and at half the cost and remove burned, dead trees while they have value to help pay for the restoration work.  I want the Subcommittee to look at all of the arguments and science.  We need to find common ground here as we did in writing and passing the Healthy Forest Restoration Act," said Walden.

Chairman Walden said he intends to schedule a hearing on post-fire recovery during the early summer.

Walden and former Forests and Forest Health Subcommittee Chairman Scott McInnis (R-CO) were the principal authors of the Healthy Forest Restoration Act in 2003.  Walden took over the chairmanship of the Subcommittee in March 2004.

The Subcommittee is holding a field hearing today on issues affecting southern forests at the request of Congressman Max Burns (R-GA).

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

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