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Wednesday, January 05, 2005

For Immediate Release

Walden Delivers Address at National Conference Celebrating Centennial of Forest Service

Remarks outline plans for House Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health during 109th session of Congress

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health, today addressed over 500 attendees from across the country at a congressional policy discussion hosted by the Department of Agriculture (USDA) honoring the centennial anniversary of the U.S. Forest Service (USFS).  This morning’s event, part of a four-day summit, began with prepared remarks from Walden, Senator Larry Craig (R-ID) and Representative Mark Udall (D-CO).  Walden and Udall then took questions from the audience moderated by Mark Rey, the USDA’s undersecretary for natural resources and the environment.

Speaking to the importance of responsible stewardship, Walden quoted a speech delivered by President Theodore Roosevelt 100 years ago in Salt Lake City: “Almost every industry depends in some more or less vital way upon the preservation of the forests; and while citizens die, the government and the nation do not die, and we are bound in dealing with the forests to exercise the foresight necessary to use them now, but to use them in such a way as will also keep them for those who are to come after us. 

“Theodore Roosevelt was many things, but principal among them he was a man of action; and if he were to join us today, I hardly believe he would be happy knowing that 190 million acres of the federal forest reserves are subject to catastrophic wildfire, disease and bug infestation,” continued Walden.  “This Rough Rider of a President would throw a fit if he knew we were losing more than 4,500 acres a day to the spread of noxious weeds.  The man who charged up San Juan Hill would never stand for the gridlock that has overtaken the ability of the trained professionals in the Forest Service to effectively manage the forests.  And neither should we.”   

Walden conveyed to the conference that he plans to use his post as chairman of the Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health to pursue a problem-solving and action-oriented agenda during the 109th Congress, which convened yesterday.  His efforts will include monitoring the continued implementation of the Healthy Forest Restoration Act, which Walden helped author, ensuring that the tools outlined in the policy are used to bring about healthier forests, watersheds and habitats while making communities safer. 

Additionally, Walden noted that he will continue to work on untying the knots of federal forest post-catastrophic restoration so the government can effectively and responsibly engage in recovery plans.  His focus will remain on addressing the specific reasons why it takes the federal government three years to remove dead timber after a fire, letting value slip away while making forest restoration efforts increasingly difficult.

Evaluating our national trails system, ensuring our firefighters have the tools and funding to match the courage and ability we’ve seen time and again, and gaining a strong understanding of current reforestation projects and what is needed to keep them on track for future generations will also be key elements of Walden’s work on the Subcommittee.

Walden concluded his remarks by saying that “together we have the knowledge and ability to help federal land managers become the best stewards on the face of the planet.  We in the Congress owe no less to those in the Forest Service and to current and future generations.”

Congress established the USFS in 1905 in order to provide quality water and timber for the Nation’s benefit.  According to the USFS, their job is to help people share and enjoy the forest, while conserving the environment for generations yet to come.  There are five main activities the agency conducts:

  • Protection and management of natural resources on National Forest System lands;
  • Research on all aspects of forestry, rangeland management, and forest resource utilization;
  • Community assistance and cooperation with State and local governments, forest industries, and private landowners to help protect and manage non-Federal forest and associated range and watershed lands to improve conditions in rural areas;
  • Achieving and supporting an effective workforce that reflects the full range of diversity of the American people;
  • International assistance in formulating policy and coordinating U.S. support for the protection and sound management of the world's forest resources.

To view a full copy of Walden’s remarks, visit our release posted on www.walden.house.gov

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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