Watch the Video, Sign the Petition to Put People Back to Work in the Woods
Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities released a video and on-line petition urging Congress to reform the management of National Forests and Western Oregon’s O&C timberlands. The video shares the perspectives of four Pacific Northwest residents who’ve witnessed the economic and environmental impacts of current federal policies. The decline in forest health, lack of stable funding for critical services, and the critical need for more family wage jobs are challenges facing forested communities across the region.
Featured in the video are social worker Evelyn Nores, mill worker Pete Austin, professional forester Rick Barnes and Lane County, Ore. Sheriff Tom Turner.
Federal forest reforms have found bipartisan support and momentum in the current Congress. In September, U.S. House of Representatives approved HR 1526, known as the “Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act,” which renews the federal government’s commitment to managing federal forests for the economic benefit of rural communities. So far, the U.S. Senate has focused only on piecemeal, place-based federal land bills to create more wilderness and land set-asides. That could change starting this week, when the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held hearings on measures to increase federal timber harvests and expedite forest restoration projects to help contain catastrophic wildfire, insects and disease.
Among the bills to be heard this week is S. 1966, known as the National Forest Jobs and Management Act introduced by Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY). seeks to create jobs in rural America by reducing the costs and uncertainty associated with planning routine forest management projects on a portion of the National Forest System (NFS). The legislation directs the Forest Service to develop and execute timber harvest projects on 7.5 million acres of the 44.1 million acres of NFS land already identified in National Forest plans as suitable for timber production.
The committee also heard Sen. Ron Wyden’s (D-Oregon) O&C Act of 2013 to reform management of 2.5 million acres of Western Oregon timberland managed by the Bureau of Land Management.
“When it comes to the debate over managing our federal forests, the loudest voices are usually the environmental activists, politicians and industry representatives,” said Nick Smith of HFHC. “This video is intended to spotlight citizens who may not be engaged in the policy debate, but are deeply affected by the dramatic decline in federal timber harvests and the resulting decline in economic opportunity and forest health. Hopefully their perspectives will inform our federal officials about the need to pass solutions that assure active forest management, stable revenues for rural counties and more jobs in forested communities.”
Citizens can view the video and sign a petition urging Congress to pass federal forest reforms at http://www.healthyforests.org/watch_the_video_sign_the_petition