Rep. Bishop Praises House Passage of Healthy Forests Act
The Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act will require the U.S. Forest Service to make available limited areas of our national forests for responsible timber development. As required by law since 1908, 25% of the timber receipts must go to the local counties where harvest activity occurs to help fund schools and local infrastructure. As fringe environmental policies have taken hold, timber harvests and shared revenues have dramatically reduced.
"This legislation will help improve the overall health of many ailing National Forests. Over the course of the last century, the important mission of the U.S. Forest system seems to have faded from its original intention. There is a reason the U.S. Forest Service is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Our forests are great places to visit, but they also serve as an important part of our local, state, and national economies," said Bishop.
Active management and responsible timber production on federal commercial timber lands not only reduce fuel loads that contribute to catastrophic wildfires but ultimately help forests remain healthy and robust. Last year, wildfires burned 9.3 million acres, while the U.S. Forest Service only harvested approximately 200,000 acres. According to the U.S. Forest Service, 65-82 million acres of Forest Service land are at high risk of wildfires.
"Improved management practices will help ensure that our national forests remain healthy and viable for generations to come. I'm also pleased that states and counties will have a more active role in helping to prevent catastrophic wildfires," Bishop added.
This legislation also:
--Limits the president's ability to unilaterally create national monuments in western Oregon.
--Extends Stewardship Contracting Authority so that the Forest Service can continue partnerships with non-governmental groups who are better equipped to manage lands and habitat within designated forest areas.
--Allows counties to actively manage portions of National Forest land through the creation of "Community Forest Demonstration Areas."
--Extends Secure Rural Schools payments for an additional year to allow new forest management policies to be implemented.