Bad Forest Bills

July 28, 2014

Several western-based wildlfie federations have written a letter to Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair July 28 re two bad forest bills: National Forest Jobs and Management Act (S.1966) and Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act (H.R.1526).

 

Here is the letter that 7 wildlife organizations sent to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair on July 28. The organizations are CWF, Montana Wildlife Federation, New Mexico Wildlife Federation, Idaho Wildlife Federation, Wyoming Wildlife Federation, Arizona Wildlife Federation and South Dakota Wildlife Federation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 28, 2014

The Honorable Mary Landrieu
Chairwoman
Energy and Natural Resources Committee
US Senate
Washington, DC 20510

RE: National Forest Jobs and Management Act (S. 1966) and
Restoring Healthy Forests for Health Communities Act (H.R. 1526)

Dear Chairwoman Landrieu:

Our organizations collectively represent tens of thousands of hunters, anglers and other conservationists across seven Western states. We write to you today to express our opposition to two national forest policy bills under consideration in your committee. We are opposed to the National Forest Jobs and Management Act (S. 1966) and the Restoring Healthy Forests for Health Communities Act (H.R. 1526) because of the severe and negative impact these bills would have on
wildlife habitat and public access.

Hunting, angling, and outdoor recreation are an important part of the culture in the West. People who live here and visitors from all over the country enjoy spectacular hunting, fishing, and other wildlife-based recreation. These activities are also essential drivers for local economies. Across our seven states, hunting and fishing generate $10.3 billion a year in economic activity and support more than 104,000 jobs. This in turn generates almost $1.5 billion dollars in tax revenue: $784 million a year in federal taxes and $661 million in state and local taxes. Hunting and fishing in our region
depend on national forests and other public lands. According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, 77 percent of hunters in the Mountain West region hunt on public lands, a higher rate than any other part of the country.

As residents of the West, we understand the need for better management of national forests. We live in communities that face the threat of catastrophic wildfire. We see the on-the-ground impact that poorly-managed forests have on wildlife habitat and water supplies. We also have members who work in the forest products industry and have experienced the impacts of declining timber harvests. In response, our organizations have worked to improve forest management by working with other stakeholders to reach collaborative solutions at the local level. We have invested years – in some
cases decades – working on the ground to develop practical solutions that protect wildlife habitat, improve forest health, and support local economies. These proposals are embodied in bills like Senator Jon Tester’s Forest Jobs and Recreation Act (S. 37) and Senator Ron Wyden’s Oregon and California Land Grant Act (S. 1784).

Rather than supporting practical solutions for forest management, S. 1966 and H.R. 1526 repudiate local collaboration and mandate an unrealistic, one-size-fits all approach. These bills disregard all of the lessons we have learned over the years about effective forest management. They would:

  • Require logging on 500,000 acres of national forest land a year – more than tripling the 2013 harvest overnight – across every national forest west of the 100th Meridian in S. 1966 and nationwide in H.R. 1526, without regard for local circumstances.
  • Provide no new funds for timber management, which will force the Forest Service to cut back on other program areas to meet timber harvesting mandates.
  • Mandate logging and treatment on all land identified as suitable for timber production, including inventoried roadless areas, important wildlife habitat, and crucial water supplies, and prohibit the Forest Service from reducing lands available for logging through the normal forest plan process.
  • Divert funds from multiple-use activities like recreation and wildlife management to fund timber harvesting.
  • Waive important provisions of national environmental laws, including the scientific reviews required by the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act
  • Curtail local community engagement and public participation in forest management and lock into place outdated management plans, cutting off years of work that local stakeholders have already invested in the plan revision process.

The timber harvesting approach envisioned in both S. 1966 and H.R. 1526 is unsustainable, unrealistic, and a threat to wildlife habitat and public access. On behalf of the hunters, anglers, and other conservationists represented by our organizations we urge you and the Committee to vote against this short-sighted, ideological proposal. Instead, we urge you to support practical, locallydeveloped forest management solutions.
 

Sincerely,
 

Dave Chadwick
Executive Director
Montana Wildlife Federation

Michael Gibson
Executive Director
Idaho Wildlife Federation

Suzanne O’Neill
Executive Director
Colorado Wildlife Federation

Tom Mackin
President
Arizona Wildlife Federation

Garrett VeneKlasen
Executive Director
New Mexico Wildlife Federation

Steve Kilpatrick
Executive Director
Wyoming Wildlife Federation

Chris Hesla
Executive Director
South Dakota Wildlife Federation

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