If managed wisely, America’s national forests can provide wildlife habit, recreational opportunities, abundant domestic supplies of natural resources and support thousands of jobs in the timber industry.
Unfortunately, the inability to use scientific forestry practices, such as selective harvest, has lead to catastrophic forest fires that endanger communities, hurt local economies and release massive amounts of emissions into the atmosphere. Overgrowth in our forests, bark beetle infestation and excessive litigation by environmental groups have all increased the number and severity of forest fires.
Policies are needed that will provide sustainable timber yields and give land managers the necessary tools to effectively manage our nation’s forests and prevent wildfires. In order to keep our forests healthy, Congress must take action to:
- Prevent the buildup of dangerous flammable material in our forests.
- Find ways to keep timber-dependent industries alive so we can manage forests and put forest products to use rather than spending billions of dollars on fire supression.
- Find the proper balance in managing forests so they will contribute to our economic well being while also providing recreational opportunities for Americans.
Get the Facts:
- Our national forests have four to five times the amount of trees per acre compared to when Lewis and Clark ventured west. The density of the forests makes them more susceptible to wildfire.
- The cost of suppressing catastrophic wildfires has grown enormously in recent years. In fact, wildland fire management activities have risen from 13 percent of the Forest Service budget in fiscal year 1991 to now over half the annual budget. Projections indicate this trend will only increase as a result of hazardous fuels build-up.
- The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the logging, wood, paper and cabinetry industries have lost 242,000 jobs, or roughly 23 percent if its workforce, since 2006. This is largely due to the inability to properly manage our forest lands.
- Policies focused on preventing wildfires would help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We lose millions of acres of our national forests to wildfire every year and these fires and their aftermath produce billions of tons of pollutants. A medium-sized fire can release 200,000 tons of CO2, and if the burned trees are left to decompose, several times that amount will be emitted.
FOX News Spotlight on Mountain Pine Beetle Epidemic, FOX News (August 4, 2011)