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Floor Statements

Chairman Hastings: Senate Must Join House in Acting to Provide Better Stewardship over Federal Forest Lands

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 18, 2014 | Committee Press Office (202-225-2761)
House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-04) delivered the following statement on the House floor today in support of H.R. 4, the Jobs for America Act.

"Mr. Speaker,

This jobs package includes important legislation – H.R. 1526, the Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act – which passed this House almost exactly one year ago.  It is a long-term, sustainable solution to put Americans back to work, restore forest health, and prevent wildfires.

Our national forests, unless otherwise designated, should be open for multiple-uses for everything from recreation to job-creating economic activities.  Instead, due to onerous federal regulations and litigation, our federal forests have increasingly been shut down.  Timber harvests have dropped by 80 percent in the last 30 years 

We have seen catastrophic wildfires burn houses to the ground and destroy our federal forests.  We have seen loggers, mill workers, and truck drivers put out of work.  We have seen rural communities turned into ghost towns.

It is long past time for the Senate to join with the House to provide better stewardship over federal forest lands.  It’s disappointing, and frankly unacceptable, that a year later the Senate is still sitting on the sidelines.  Meanwhile, rural communities continue to suffer. 

This legislation requires responsible timber production on at least half of the Forest Service’s non-environmentally sensitive timber lands.  By restoring active forest management, this bill will create over 200,000 direct and indirect jobs. 

It also maintains and strengthens the historic sharing of timber receipts with local counties, which is essential given the upcoming expiration of the Secure Rural Schools program. 

Finally, instead of having to pay for wildfire suppression, this bill would allow us to reap the benefits of a responsible timber harvest that reduces wildfire threats to our communities.

Congress must act to restore the promise the Federal government made over a century ago to actively manage our forests and create needed jobs for the benefit of rural communities.   Today the House is – once again – living up to this promise.  We hope the Senate will join us and support common sense reform of federal forest management. ”