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TimberWest November/December 2013

July/August 2014

Turning Challenge into Opportunity
Ted Hufford, owner of Timberline
Logging always knew going in it
wasn’t going to be easy.

Keep it Simple
Barnes and Sons Logging in Lewis County, Wash., has that “Go for It” spirit

Any Job is Possible
Pulley Logging of Sedro Woolley
takes on anything from thinning
to helicopter logging.

Safety at Tght Landings

Time for Congress to Improve
the Health of Forests
Guest Column, Nick Smith, Executive Director of Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities.

Pacific Logging Congress Showguide


Tech review - portable grinders

Woody Biomass Column

In the News

Association News

Machinery Row




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Nick SmithTime for Congress to Improve the Health of Forests, Rural Communities

By Nick Smith

For too long, our elected officials in Washington, D.C., have avoided finding real solutions to the growing problems in our federal forests and local communities. As federal timber harvests have declined more than 75 percent since the 1990s, our forests have become more vulnerable to wildfire, insects, and disease. As logging and mill companies have closed, many of our communities have suffered from high unemployment and poverty.

Fortunately, more of our elected officials are getting the message and are supporting permanent and comprehensive solutions for our federal forestlands. The increasing intensity of catastrophic wildfires has brought national attention to current federal land management policies. While we’ve seen some positive legislation pass in the current Congress, we have more work to do to increase timber harvests, increase the pace and scale of critical forest restoration projects, and put more people back to work.

Farm Bill

Bipartisan passage of the 2014 Farm Bill represents a positive step toward improving the health of our federal forests and rural communities. Among several provisions, the Farm Bill requires the Department of Agriculture to designate treatment areas on at least one national forest in each state (if requested by the Governor) that the department determines are experiencing declining forest health due to insect or disease infestation. If certain conditions are met, projects would be eligible for a 3,000-acre categorical exclusion for qualifying projects. Thirty-six states have requested designations thus far, totaling 45 million acres of at-risk federal forest lands.

Though the Farm Bill offers many benefits for our forests and rural communities, it does not make significant changes to a system that promotes obstruction, delay, and constant litigation in federal timber sales and other forest health projects. Many in Congress recognize the need for solutions that ease the “analysis paralysis” and endless environmental lawsuits that prevent the active management of federal lands.

Reforming Federal Forest Management

In the current Congress, two bills have been introduced to reform federal forest management on a national level. H.R. 1526, known as the “Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act,” re-establishes the priority of actively managing our forests and promotes timber production on Forest Service commercial timber lands – areas that were specifically identified by the Forest Service for timber harvests. It requires the Forest Service to produce at least half of the sustainable yield of timber each year and, as required by law since 1908, share 25% of receipts with the counties to help fund schools and infrastructure projects. H.R. 1526 also includes provisions to restore management to much of western Oregon’s “O&C” lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management. The bipartisan provision would increase timber harvests while offering legal certainty against lawsuits. H.R. 1526 was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on a bipartisan vote in September, 2013.

National forestry legislation has also been introduced in the Senate. Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso introduced the National Forest Jobs and Management Act (S. 1966), which requires the U.S. Forest Service to implement commercial timber harvest projects on 7.5 million acres already deemed suitable for timber management over 15 years. It also tries to prevent delays due to litigation by requiring that lawsuits be resolved through arbitration. Though it has received a hearing, S. 1966 is pending further action in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

No effective measure to restore management on O&C lands (including H.R. 1526 and S. 1966) has advanced through the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in the current Congress. There appears to be little momentum in the Senate to address comprehensive federal forest reforms. Since Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu took control over the committee, it has taken no action on any measures that would meaningfully reform the management of federal forests.

Getting Legislation through Congress

Passing effective national forestry legislation through the U.S. Congress is difficult. Extreme environmentalists are well-funded, well-organized, and well-represented on Capitol Hill. To match the environmental lobby’s influence on our elected officials, it is important for everyone who supports active management of our federal forests to get involved.

To express your support to your senators, call their offices, send them an e-mail, or attend a town hall. With the 2014 mid-term election coming up, ask candidates at all levels of government where they stand on public land management and whether they’re willing to vote for the meaningful reforms we need to improve the health of our forests and rural communities.

Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities was established in 2013 to give more citizens a voice in the management of federal forestlands. Our website’s Action Center makes it easy to send your elected officials an e-mail expressing your support for national forestry legislation. You can also sign up to receive our e-mail newsletter and learn about opportunities to get involved in your community. Please get involved. Together, we can make a difference for our forests and rural communities.

Nick Smith is the Executive Director of Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities. You can find more on and follow Nick on Twitter and Facebook.