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For Immediate Release
October 30, 2003

Walden Praises Senate Passage of Healthy Forest Measure

Calls for Speedy Resolution to House/Senate Differences

(Washington, D.C.) -- Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) tonight hailed Senate passage of his Healthy Forest Restoration Act (H.R. 1904), and called for quick appointment of conferees to review Senate changes to the bill and to resolve differences between the House and the Senate so that the bill can be sent to the President for his signature.

Walden was in the Senate as the vote occurred on final passage Thursday night and personally congratulated the Senators who had worked on the legislation. "The 80 to 14 vote in the Senate proves there was more support than some thought for giving our professional foresters the new tools they need to prevent catastrophic wildfires from destroying our communities, watersheds and critical wildlife habitat. I congratulate members of both parties who worked so hard to get this bill out of the Senate," said Walden.

After the Senate vote, Walden went back to the House where he met with the chairmen of the House Agriculture Committee and the House Resources Committee. Both pledged to work with their Senate counterparts to resolve differences in language between the two versions of the legislation. Walden also got an assurance from the Speaker of the House that the House would move quickly on the final version of the bill.

"The sooner we can get this bill to the President, the sooner our communities can begin working with the Forest Service to expedite hazardous fuel reduction projects. It's time to put a stop to the destruction of America's forests resulting from catastrophic wildfire, bug infestation and disease. It's time to improve forest stewardship by putting scientifically proven management strategies to work," said Walden.

Walden went on to say, "It's important to remember that this legislation is only the first step on the road to healthier forest ecosystems. In order to pass this measure, we had to limit the provisions to just 11% of the federal forestlands that need help. We still need to approve better strategies to restore and protect old growth Ponderosa pine forests and more quickly rehabilitate conifer forests after destructive fires. The scientific research demonstrates how important active forest management practices are to keeping our forests healthy," said Walden.

Walden's Healthy Forest Restoration Act (H.R. 1904) passed the U.S. House by a 256-170 margin in May of this year. The House is expected to appoint members to a conference committee to review Senate changes to the bill early next week.

Congressman Walden represents the Second Congressional District of Oregon, which includes the 20 counties of central, southern and eastern Oregon. He is a Deputy Whip and member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Committee on Resources.

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