March 09, 2005

Crapo And Craig Hail Bipartisan Forest Bill

Amendment filed today addresses critical issues of forest health

Washington, DC â?? After weeks of negotiations on healthy forest legislation, Idaho Senators Larry Craig and Mike Crapo joined with several colleagues in filing a compromise amendment that would ensure that legislation proposed to restore forest health is passed by the Senate. The amendment would replace the current Title I in H.R. 1904, the Healthy Forest Restoration Act. A summary of the amendment follows this news release.H.R. 1904 was passed overwhelmingly by the House, and was reported out of the Senate Agriculture Committee in July. The new amendment addresses a number of concerns raised by Western Democrat Senators; Craig and Crapo were heavily involved in the negotiations that resulted in the compromise. Crapo said, â??The Senate has been the biggest hurdle in moving forest health legislation, and this bipartisan effort has produced a measure that should be able to be passed by the Senate. We are all concerned about the deteriorating conditions in our national forests, and I commend my colleagues for their persistence in working together on this amendment. With this agreement, we should be able to avoid the threat of a filibuster and meet the significant forest health needs across the country.â??â??This is a small but significant step toward the goal of responsibly managing the nationâ??s forest lands to remove hazardous fuels and prevent the kinds of catastrophic forest fires that have devastated the West over the last five years,â?? Craig said. â??This bipartisan amendment reduces burdens on our forest managers by providing the tools necessary to expeditiously heal our most dead and dying forests. â??I am very pleased the bill provides an important opportunity for communities along the wildland-urban interface to work in a collaborative process to determine how, where, and when work is done on forests bordering their communities. Finally, the Senate has seen our way through the partisan smoke on this issue and thank Chairman Cochran for his leadership in prioritizing this important legislation,â?? Craig said.In citing specifics of the amendment, Crapo said, â??This amendment provides significant on-the-ground resources to our forests and local communities. It allows for reasonable practices with forest management, which should provide a stronger economic base. It also streamlines the challenge process by eliminating the litigation paralysis that has too often resulted under the present system. Communities throughout Idaho and the nation will benefit from healthier forest conditions. For example, the dead and dying timber around communities like Elk City can be removed, and areas like Cascade that have suffered significant job loss may be able to jump-start their economies through provisions included in the compromise.â??Crapo, who chairs the Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Forestry, Conservation, and Rural Revitalization which has jurisdiction over H.R. 1904, has been actively involved in the forest health issue since being elected to the Senate. He has held various meetings and tours throughout the state on forest health issues, including community meetings in Elk City, Salmon, and Cascade, three communities heavily affected by forest health issues.Craig, who is the Chairman of the Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has been working toward finalization of bipartisan forest health legislation for over three years. A nationally recognized leader on the issues of forest and public land management for over two decades, Craig praised the amendment agreed upon this week.A satellite feed with comments from both Craig and Crapo about the forest health amendment will be available today. Times and coordinates are as follows:1:45-2:15 p.m. Mountain/12:45-1:15 p.m. PacificGalaxy 3 (C-Band)Transponder 7 HorizontalDownlink 3840Standard audio 6.2/6.8# # #