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Subcommittee field hearing in
Pacific Northwest reaffirms need for FERRA

Chairman Pombo, Reps. Walden, McMorris call on Senate
to pass H.R. 4200 to assist with forest restoration

10/4/06 House Committee on Resources

FOLLOWED BY CONGRESSMAN WALDEN PRESS RELEASE:

WASHINGTON - The House Resources Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health today held a field hearing in Okanogan, Wash. to examine the recent wildfires and their aftermath, and how to protect affected communities, watersheds and wildlife.

The Tripod fire earlier this year burned a total of 175,000 acres of land. In addition, fires down south in Columbia burned more than 110,000 acres. Current estimates indicate 1.5 million board feet was burned on Forest Service land. According to the most recent information from the Forest Service, the Tripod fire is estimated to have cost more than $82 million. Today's hearing was called at the request of Rep. Cathy McMorris (R-Wash.), who represents Okanogan in Congress.

Earlier this year, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4200, the Forest Emergency Recovery and Research Act (FERRA). This legislation gives federal land managers the tools they need to quickly start restoration efforts in America's national forests following catastrophic events - if quick action is found to be beneficial to the long-term health and recovery of the forest - without waiving environmental laws. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently found that FERRA could provide $130 million in revenue over 10 years to help forest managers mitigate wildfire costs.

"The unfortunate reality is that once the last ember of a wildfire is extinguished, the emergency work begins. In fact, the aftermath of a severe wildfire can often be more damaging to the environment than the fire itself," Resources Chairman Richard W. Pombo (R-Calif.) said. "The CBO has indicated that FERRA would provide millions of dollars to assist with post-catastrophic restoration and reforestation efforts. As such, FERRA would actually save taxpayer dollars and generate revenue for America's forests by cutting red tape and speeding up post-fire planning processes while still maintaining ample protections for the environment and public participation. The House has done its job and passed FERRA to help our nation's forests and forest managers. I certainly hope the Senate will follow suit before the end of the year so President Bush can sign this important and needed legislation into law."

"With this fire season's record scorching of lands - including huge swaths of forested areas - it's time to stop fiddling, change the law, free our foresters to respond like all other non-federal foresters can, and remove the burned dead trees while they have value. Expedited treatment will generate revenue that can be used to fund our schools, rehabilitate our landscapes and help us eliminate the backlog," Rep. Walden (R-Ore.) said. "As important, we can get a new forest started before the brush chokes new trees, thereby restoring desired habitat sooner and protecting our water sources quicker. The House passed FERRA with strong bipartisan support months ago, and it's critical that the Senate finally take this measure up quickly upon their return to session."

"The natural resource industry is a critical part of Eastern Washington's economy, especially in Okanogan County," Rep. McMorris said. "Today's hearing enabled us to listen and learn, first hand, how we can do a better job of managing our forests. We can't afford to let lives and livelihoods be devastated by fires. That is why I am working to improve the National Environmental Policy Act process and it is why I believe we need to work to make sure FERRA becomes law."

FERRA supplements the Healthy Forests Restoration Act by addressing forest rehabilitation following catastrophic events - such as hurricanes, fires, tornados, wind storms or insect epidemics - as recommended by the scientific community. FERRA also dedicates a substantial amount of money to post-catastrophic event research to build upon the science we already have on restoration.

H.R 4200 has earned the support of a variety of organizations including the National Federation of Federal Employees, the Society of American Foresters and the National Association of Counties. Click here to read more about FERRA and scientific research on forest recovery following a natural disaster.

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 WALDEN TO US SENATE: 

HELP FORESTS RECOVER QUICKER, PASS THE FOREST EMERGENCY RECOVERY AND RESEARCH ACT

CONTACT: Colby Marshall, 202.226.7337

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  

Omak, Wash.-The chairman of the House Resources Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health today at a hearing in Omak, Washington called for the U.S. Senate to act quickly upon its return after the elections to pass the Forest Emergency Recovery and Research Act (H.R. 4200).

"It's a disgrace that even before this year's record fire season, the Government Accountability Office determined that we have a million- acre backlog of federal forest lands that need treatment.  It's the Katrina of our forests, and the Senate is failing to act," said Chairman Greg Walden during an oversight hearing on wildfire and recovery efforts.

"With this fire season's record scorching of lands-including huge swaths of forested areas-it's time to stop fiddling, change the law, free our foresters to respond like all other non-federal foresters can, and remove the burned dead trees while they have value.  Expedited treatment will generate revenue that can be used to fund our schools, rehabilitate our landscapes and help us eliminate the backlog," said Walden.  "As important, we can get a new forest started before the brush chokes new trees, thereby restoring desired habitat sooner and protecting our water sources quicker."

Walden, and Washington Democrat U.S. Representative Brian Baird, crafted the legislation after numerous hearings and studies.  It passed the House this summer by a 243 to 182 bipartisan vote.  "The Forest Emergency Recovery and Research Act (FERRA) is the little brother of the Healthy Forests Restoration Act (HFRA).  If you voted for the strongly bipartisan HFRA, there's no reason you shouldn't support FERRA," said Walden.

"Teddy Roosevelt would be rolling over in his grave if he knew how badly his great Forest Reserves were being treated by those who think abandoning a burned area after a fire is stewardship," said Walden.

 

 
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