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Federal Farm Bill Can Provide Assistance in Management of Federal Forest Lands

A Resolution Calling on the U.S. Forest Service and the Oregon Department of Forestry to Take Full Advantage of Federal Farm Bill Authorities to Assist in the Management of Federal Forest Lands

By the Oregon Logging Conference – Adopted February 23, 2017

WHEREAS, 60 percent of Oregon’s forest lands are owned by the federal government and have become extremely prone to catastrophic wildfire due to the absence of active management, insect and disease infestations, agency budget cuts, and environmental litigation over the past two decades, and

WHEREAS, Congress gave federal land management agencies new authorities and incentives for expediting forest restoration projects in the 2014 Farm Bill that have not been utilized to the fullest extent possible, including the use of Categorical Exclusions (CEs) eliminating the need for time consuming and expensive environmental analyses and provisions for addressing large scale forest health projects, and

WHEREAS, the Farm Bill also gave the States new authority, called the Good Neighbor Authority (GNA), to engage with the U.S. Forest Service in funding, planning, preparing and executing forest management activities, including timber sales, on national forest lands in the respective states, and

WHEREAS, while the State of Oregon and the U.S. Forest Service entered into a GNA Master Agreement in March of 2016, the pace and scale of its implementation has lagged far behind other states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Idaho where significant volumes of timber are being sold in partnership between the U.S. Forest Service and the states utilizing the GNA, and

WHEREAS, the Oregon State Legislature authorized $2.88 million for the 2013-15 biennium; $5 million for the 2015-17 biennium; and will consider a $7 million budget request for the 2017-19 biennium for the Oregon Department of Forestry to assist the U.S. Forest Service in planning and implementing forest management activities including those authorized by the Good Neighbor Authority of the 1014 Farm Bill.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Oregon Logging Conference go on record in support of the U.S. Forest Service utilizing to the fullest extent practicable the authorities in the 2014 Farm Bill to expedite forest health restoration projects on federal forest lands with emphasis on utilizing Categorical Exclusions to streamline environmental analyses and to improve the legal sufficiency of planning documents.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that any future funds authorized by the Oregon State Legislature for use by the Oregon Department of Forestry in assisting federal forest management agencies be invested in Good Neighbor Authority projects to provide additional timber supply for Oregon mills.