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House Committee Overwhelmingly Approves Bipartisan Forest Health, Research Legislation

House Committee on Resources votes 25-13 to advance Forest Emergency Recovery and Research Act introduced by Walden, Baird, Herseth

March 29, 2006

Washington, D.C. - In a bipartisan show of support for the Forest Emergency Recovery and Research Act, H.R. 4200, the House Committee on Resources today approved the bill by a vote of 25-13.  The Committee has recognized the common sense approach to management of federal forestlands and support for enhanced scientific research on post-catastrophic event management found in H.R. 4200, which has nearly 150 cosponsors and was introduced by U.S. Representatives Greg Walden (R-OR), Brian Baird (D-WA) and Stephanie Herseth (D-SD) in November 2005. 

"I'm a backpacker, hiker, camper, skier and kayaker.  I am passionate about healthy forests, clean water and good habitat.  I want to help our forests recover quicker after fires, hurricanes and other disturbances.  And the Forest Emergency Recovery and Research Act-when it becomes law-will help America's forests and watersheds recover faster and better after a catastrophic event," said Walden, chairman of the Resources Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health. 

"This legislation comes before the Resources Committee after more than two years of work by the Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health to examine the impediments to post catastrophic event recovery efforts. We asked the Government Accountability Office for assistance.  We've hiked through forests from Oregon to South Dakota.  We've consulted with tribal land managers and fish and wildlife organizations.  In all, we've held eight hearings and heard from hundreds of witnesses and citizens as we crafted this legislation, which will give our talented federal land managers the tools necessary to become more effective and responsible stewards of forestlands damaged by catastrophic events," added Walden.  "I'm grateful for the support shown today by my colleagues on the House Resources Committee and look forward to working with them further as we advance this legislation through the congressional process."

"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 get our wood from clearcuts 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 - not require - us to utilize dead timber and responsibly restore the health and diversity of our forests after a catastrophic event like a fire or hurricane." 

Rep. Herseth said, "Current regulatory framework does not give forest supervisors adequate latitude to respond to forest catastrophes.  Whether that catastrophe is a fire, a hurricane, or a beetle infestation, forest managers often have the knowledge, but not the ability, to respond quickly.  The Forest Emergency Recovery and Research Act will provide the tools for a rapid response, rely on the experience of forestry professionals, and promote new research to improve forestry practices.  I am confident that this legislation will provide an effective framework to ensure that our forests can recover after a fire."

The Forest Emergency Recovery and Research Act must also be approved by the House Committee on Agriculture and the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.  The chairmen and ranking Democrats of these two committees are original cosponsors of the bill.

H.R. 4200 earned early support from several conservation and local government organizations as well as respected individuals in the forestry community, including: Oregon State University College of Forestry Dean Dr. Hal Salwasser, Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth, former Oregon State Forester and natural resources advisor to Governor Kulongoski Jim Brown, the Society of American Foresters, the National Association of State Foresters, the National Association of Counties, the Chamber of Medford/Jackson County, Associated Oregon Counties, Communities for Healthy Forests, Jackson County, Deschutes County, Josephine County, and many others.  More information on H.R. 4200 can be found at http://thomas.loc.gov.

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





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