The summer of 2006 proved to be yet another disastrous fire season in the State of Oregon. Hundreds of thousands of acres of forest land were burned. While Oregon Congressman Greg Walden and Washington Congressman Brian Baird were successful in passing the Forest Emergency Recovery and Research Act out of the U. S. House of Representatives, the bill died in the Senate as fires raged in the late summer and fall. This law would have authorized expedited restoration of federal forest lands destroyed by catastrophic events like wildfire. The 110th Congress convened in January and it is imperative that it restart the process to pass this important legislation. It has become abundantly clear that federal land management agencies are incapable of responding in a timely manner to catastrophic events on forestlands under existing procedures and rules for environmental analyses. The purpose of this resolution is to call on Congress to adopt special, modified and streamlined procedures for responding to catastrophic events on federal forestlands.
WHEREAS, recent history has proven federal agencies to be incapable of responding to catastrophic events affecting forest landscapes in a timely manner, and
WHEREAS, millions of acres of federal forests have burned during the past several years and, with very few exceptions, most areas are still awaiting restoration activities to preserve environmental values and to remove dead and dying timber to make way for reforestation recovery, and
WHEREAS, current requirements for environmental analyses, the preparation of documents required by the National Environmental Policy Act, solicitation of public input, responding to administrative appeals and defense of decisions in federal court consume years before any rehabilitation activities occur on the ground, and
WHEREAS, even if the agencies are successful in navigating through the morass of legal and procedural requirements, the time consumed often results in the deterioration of the timber resource to the point that it loses its market value, and
WHEREAS, in these instances the public not only loses the opportunity to recover economic value from forest products, but the opportunity to restore environmental values and rehabilitate forested environments.
THEREFORE, LET IT BE RESOLVED, that the Oregon Logging Conference go on record in support of Congress taking immediate and aggressive action to pass the Forest Emergency Recovery and Research Act (FERRA), or legislation with similar objectives, to create new emergency rules and procedures for land management agencies to use in responding to catastrophic events such as wildfire for the purpose of capturing economic value from dead and dying timber and to restore and recover the forest environment, and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this new authority provide for expedited environmental analyses, streamlined decisionmaking authorities for agency line officers, limited and expedited public review and legal challenges so that on the ground forest restoration and recovery projects will be available for implementation within one year of the catastrophic event.