A Resolution Supporting Bipartisan Legislation of
“To Get America Back to Work Taking Care of The Forests Again”
For Consideration By The Oregon Logging Conference
WHEREAS, In 2003, Congress passed the strongly bipartisan Healthy Forests Restoration Act (HFRA). Where implemented, it has reduced the incidence and severity of catastrophic wildfire. Since the bill was signed into law, however, wildfires have burned more than 40 million acres in the United States, and have devastated habitat, water resources and communities in the West.
WHEREAS, The Healthy Forests Restoration Amendments Act of 2009 (HFRA II) HR 4233, introduced on December 8, 2009, amends the Healthy Forests Restoration Act (HFRA).
WHEREAS, The original Act requires thorough environmental review, including full evaluation of the environmental effect of a fuels reduction project. The proposed updates to the original law in no way change these procedures.
WHEREAS, Appeal and Litigation hold up hundreds of projects on public lands each year. The HFRA II clarification uses the same administrative appeal process that the original HFRA law, which includes pre-decisional appeals during the project planning process. This process provides critical information from the public and concerned groups to the agencies at the beginning of the planning process, creating an environment of collaboration to help the agency make better decisions.
WHEREAS, Projects must comply with all environmental laws and desired outcomes in each forest’s approved management plan.
WHEREAS, Federal land managers estimate that approximately 190 million acres of federal forest lands are at unnaturally high risk of catastrophic wildfire and large scale insect and disease outbreaks due to unhealthy forest conditions.
WHEREAS, The proposed clarifications and modifications to the HFRA will target five key points in the original law:
Point One: Inclusion of an additional key purpose to HFRA that states authorities can be used to “protect infrastructure in rural communities”. This will be in addition to the current purposes of protecting watersheds, reducing wildfire risk, improving biological diversity, and addressing the impacts of insect and disease infestations.
Point Two: Clarify that federal land management agencies can address “necessary connected actions and forest and rangeland health restoration” when going through theHFRA National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process for a fuels reduction project. This language, which is a priority of foresters, allows for the agencies to include weed management, tree planting, road work and other related projects in one NEPA document dealing with fuels reduction.
Point Three: Clarify that the agencies can use the HFRA authority to address the “existence of an infestation of disease or insects” or the fact that the presence of such may spread to adjacent lands. This is necessary because foresters have not been able to utilize HFRA to address infestation of disease or insects in a manner that enables them to contain and control devastating forest health issues.
Point Four: Remove the 20 million acre limitation included in the HFRA. The original acreage limitation was arbitrary and not based on any scientific information. Areas such as wilderness that are currently off limits under HFRA or areas proposed for wilderness in agency management plans will remain off limits.
Point Five: Clarify that if there is a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) in place or a forested area classified as being the most prone to catastrophic wildfire – Forest Health Condition Two or Three, the agency is required to evaluate only one action and one no-action NEPA alternative for the proposed project. This mirrors current NEPArequirements under HFRA for areas within the 1 ½ mile boundary of a community at risk. If a CWPP has been adopted and the agency does not take into consideration the recommendations in the plan, then the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture is directed to evaluate the CWPP as an additional alternative.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, That the Oregon Logging Conference go on record urging Congress to continue bipartisan support of The Healthy Forests Restoration Amendments Act of 2009 (HFRA II) HR 4233 and to move legislation forward to approve and implement the clarifications and modifications to the original Healthy Forests Restoration Act (HFRA).
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, That this legislation goes a long way toward facilitating fuel reduction and restoring forest health and resiliency to our national forests and surrounding communities. This will help insure those forests provide environmental benefits everyone expects.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, That the Oregon Logging Conference urges this same bipartisan group to move forward with legislation supporting The Incentives to Increase Use of Renewable Biomass Act of 2009, introduced on December 8, 2009. This Act will jumpstart the clean Biomass Energy Market encouraging universities, public schools, local governments and native American Tribes at non-gaming facilities to install or convert to clean Biomass Energy, heating or cooling systems.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That The Oregon Logging Conference go on record that we, as Americans, must provide the necessary tools to our public land managers now so they can properly steward our public lands so that we don’t leave our children and grandchildren dead, dying and black federal forests. We want our federal forests green, growing and vibrant in order to meet the many needs of our country.