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 PRESS RELEASE: Congressman Walden 9/22/05

Walden Legislation Benefiting Oregon's Youth, Forests Passes House Resources Committee

Bipartisan legislation provides education, vocational training for Oregon's youth through work in federal forests

Washington, D.C. - The House Resources Committee today passed bipartisan legislation authored by U.S. Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR), the Public Lands Corps Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2005.  The bill, H.R. 2875, would establish a program in which young adults could gain experience in forestland management while helping to implement fuels reduction components of the Healthy Forests Restoration Act (HFRA), which Walden coauthored and become law in 2003. 

"Through the Public Lands Corps, our young people, especially those who are disadvantaged, would be able to gain valuable education about and a sense of ownership in our public lands," said Walden.  "They would receive hands-on training that can better position them for future careers in forest management while taking proactive measures to prevent catastrophic wildfire.  Most importantly, we would be teaching future generations about the importance of responsible stewardship of our forests."

Walden introduced the 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 would be directed at efforts to prevent catastrophic fire and rehabilitate public land affected or altered by fires.  Most notably, work would be done in accordance with HFRA plans to reduce hazardous fuels. 

Young adults participating in the Corps would be managed by the agency in charge of the given public land under the jurisdiction of either the Department of the Interior or the Department of Agriculture.  The managing agency could contract directly with youth, or they could enter into contracts with state-level departments of natural resources, agriculture or forestry.

H.R. 2875 will now head to the House Floor for a vote by the full House of Representatives.  Similar legislation introduced by Walden was passed by the House of Representatives in the last Congress, but the Senate did not take action prior to Congress' adjournment. 

In February of this year, Walden received the "Congressional Champion" award from the National Association of Service and Conservation Corps for his work on this issue.

Congressman Walden represents the Second Congressional District of Oregon, which includes 20 counties in southern, central and eastern Oregon. He is the chairman of the House Resources Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health.




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