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 PRESS RELEASE 5/16/06 Congressmen Greg Walden

House of Representatives to Consider Bipartisan Forest Emergency Recovery & Research Act Tomorrow AM

 House Rules Committee approves legislation for Floor debate as more groups express their strong support for H.R. 4200

Washington, D.C. - The House Rules Committee tonight approved H.R. 4200, the bipartisan Forest Emergency Recovery and Research Act, for consideration on the House Floor tomorrow morning, Wednesday, May 17.   (R-OR) and Brian Baird (D-WA), the bill's authors, testified tonight before the Committee.  Walden and Baird introduced H.R. 4200 with Stephanie Herseth (S-SD), Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD) and nearly 100 additional cosponsors after more than two years of congressional hearings on the topic of post-catastrophic event management in America's national forests. 

The bill has nearly 150 cosponsors and has earned the support of a broad number of groups, including the 25,000-member National Federation of Federal Employees, the 15,000-member Society of American Foresters and a coalition of organizations representing more than 12,000 firefighting professionals.  Even today, more groups joined the list of those supporting H.R. 4200 with some sending letters to Walden, Baird and other members of Congress debunking misinformation being spread by opponents of the bill. 

"The hearings I held as chairman of the Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health, many of which took place in national forests across the country, showed an apparent need for improvements to current federal forest management processes and the amount of peer-reviewed scientific research on post event forest management.  This legislation is thoughtful, responsible policy that will better allow talented federal land managers to restore and manage forest health in the same way states, local governments, tribes and private landowners are able to," said Walden. 

"Unable to argue the merits of H.R. 4200, some opponents have resorted to lies and misinformation to try and defeat the bill.  I encourage those intrigued by this misinformation to read the bill and see that its intent is simply to allow professional, experienced land managers make decisions - in accordance with existing forest plans - that will benefit the long term health of America's national forests," added Walden.

"This is a responsible, common sense bill.  People use wood - to build homes, to make paper - and that wood needs to come from somewhere.  We can use wood from trees that are dead or dying, or from trees that are alive and healthy.  Furthermore, we can responsibly harvest wood here at home, abiding by environmental protections and creating jobs, or we can get our wood from clear cuts in equatorial rainforests where the environment is far more fragile and environmental protection and labor laws are far weaker or even nonexistent," Congressman Baird said.  "This bill will enable us to utilize dead timber instead of letting it go to waste and to responsibly restore the health and diversity of our forests after a catastrophic event like a fire or hurricane."   

A few of the organizations recently writing in support of H.R. 4200 are: the National Association of Counties, International Association of Fire Chiefs, Federal Wildland Fire Service Association, American Farm Bureau, National Federation of Federal Employees, National Forest Counties and Schools Coalition, National Wildfire Suppression Association, American Helicopter Service and Aerial Firefighting Association, Western Forest Fire Services Association, National Environmental Fuels Association, Oregon Firefighting contractors assn, National Association of Home Builders, Northwest Contract Firefighters Association, and Pacific Wildfire International.

Attached are a copy of Walden's testimony before the House Rules Committee, some of the recent letters sent in support of the bill and a document comparing facts about H.R. 4200 with fiction being propagated by the bill's opponents. 


Rep. Walden represents the 2nd District of Oregon; Rep. Baird represents the 3rd District of Washington.





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