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Rep. Schrader Praises Passage of Bipartisan Forest Management Bill

Calls the Bill Another Step Forward in the Effort to Reform Federal Forest Management and Curb Wildfires

After taking to the House floor to call attention to the need for better forest management to improve the health of our forests and curb the destruction of wildfires, Congressman Kurt Schrader (OR-05) joined his colleagues from both sides of the aisle to pass the bipartisan Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2017.

VIDEO: Rep. Schrader calls for improved forest management to reduce wildfires out west.

“Wildfire disasters don’t typically receive as much national attention as other natural disasters,” said Rep. Schrader. “But all corners of the country watched as the fires out west devastated homes and communities during this devastating wildfire season. Our current laissez-faire approach to forest management, with exclusively reactive efforts to fight increasingly horrific wildfires that threaten and destroy our communities is completely inadequate and becoming more and more costly. The bipartisan bill we passed today rewards communities that are proactive and collaborative in the stewardship of their forests, with rural advisory committees and wildfire protection plans to manage their forests without redundant NEPA processes. With this bill, we’re empowering good leadership and good management, providing for research and development and innovation in renewable forest timber construction technologies, and bringing together environmental and timber communities. While this bill is by no means perfect, and is not a silver bullet, it’s a step forward in the right direction as we work to curb the unnecessary and costly destruction caused by these fires.”

Rep. Schrader offered two amendments to the bill which were adopted unanimously. The first would strike “produce timber” from the list of streamlined forest management activities designated for Categorical Exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), limiting the list to activities that reduce fuel loads, address disease and insect infestation, improve water quality, or enhance forest health.  The second bipartisan amendment, which he introduced with Reps. Peter DeFazio and Greg Walden, will protect the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area on Oregon’s coast and ensure that Oregon land designated as Wilderness, Wild and Scenic Rivers, and the National Trails System, will remain protected from timber harvest.

Improving our forest management and curbing the destructive impact of wildfires has been one of Congressman Schrader’s legislative priorities since coming to the House in 2009. Earlier this month, he participated in a hearing in his Energy and Commerce Committee on the impact of wildfires on air quality. Throughout September, as the Eagle Creek fire burned outside of Portland, and later into the fall as the Napa fires ravaged northern California, Rep. Schrader took to the House floor to call attention to the role that properly managed forests play in preventing and curbing wildfires. He continues to work with his colleagues to pass his bipartisan Wildfire Disaster Funding Act, which he reintroduced this year alongside Congressman Mike Simpson (R-ID), to fix current process of funding for wildfire suppression and budgeting for forest management, putting an end to the vicious cycle known as “fire-borrowing.”