Washington D.C.- Congresswoman for Eastern Washington Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) and Congressman Dan Newhouse (WA-04) today introduced the Fostering Opportunities for Resources and Education Spending through Timber Sales (FORESTS) Act to encourage more proactive management of federal forests, reducing wildfire risk, and providing support to forest communities to invest in educational opportunities and economic development.
“In the Pacific Northwest, wildfires are unfortunately a part of life, but it doesn’t have to be. We have seen in the Colville National Forest how proactive management and collaboration can help prevent these fires from starting in the first place, which is progress we can build on,” says Rodgers. “The FORESTS law will take what we know and quickly put it into practice. It includes real solutions that can protect our forests by establishing active management forest areas, jump-starting management projects by reducing red tape and opening doors to more local collaboration – all while giving back to contributing forest communities. to make this possible. . This bill is a win-win, and I’m proud to lead it with Congressman Newhouse.
“Active forest management is key to reducing hazardous fuels and preventing catastrophic wildfires facing central Washington and the west,” says Newhouse. “I am proud to join Rep. McMorris Rodgers in introducing the FORESTS Act to encourage public-private partnerships, cut red tape and reauthorize the Secure Rural Schools program our communities depend on. This legislation ensures that local land managers and conservationists can continue to conduct responsible and innovative management that creates resilient forests and protects rural communities from devastating wildfires.
The 2022 FORESTS law will:
- Establish Forest Active Management Areas (FAMA) within each national forestry unit and set an annual volume requirement for timber production within each FAMA to help manage areas identified as overpopulated and suitable for commercial harvesting.
- Encourage collaborative forest management projects prioritizing local collaboration, including planning, decision-making and management processes with input from multiple stakeholders representing diverse interests.
- Reduce regulatory formalities by categorically excluding the designation and management of Active Management Forest Areas from the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). It will also reform the litigation process to allow projects brokered by collaborations to use arbitration instead of judicial review.
- Support forest communities by giving the counties in which a project is carried out 25% of the income generated by a management project in a FAMA. In addition, the bill allows communities to benefit from timber revenues resulting from stewardship contracts in their county.
The FORESTS Act is approved by the National Association of Counties. In a statement of support for the legislation, executive director Matthew Chase said:
“With record-breaking heat waves in the West and an overgrown National Forest System, conditions are ripe for another brutal wildfire season that is harming the environment, threatening community safety, and sending unnecessarily precious wood in smoke. The FORESTS Act would improve the health and sustainability of forests. It would support national forest counties by establishing responsibly managed active management forest areas, involving local governments in forest management decision-making processes, and ensuring that counties receive 25% of forest revenue. innovative new timber harvests and stewardship contracts. We applaud Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers and Congresswoman Newhouse for sponsoring the FORESTS Act and urge Congress to pass this legislation.
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