March 16, 2005

Crapo Calls Healthy Forest Bill Compromise â??Tremendous Step Forwardâ??

Senator as conferee votes to send report to full Senate

Washington, DC - A measure that retains expedited forest health remedies yet protect old-growth forests and prioritizes thinning in wildland-urban interface areas is close to reality, according to Idaho Senator Mike Crapo, who was appointed this morning to the conference committee completing action on the bill. It is expected that the final Healthy Forest legislation may be sent to President Bush by end of the week. Crapo, the chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committeeâ??s Subcommittee on Forestry, Nutrition, and Rural Revitalization, and six other senators joined their House counterparts this afternoon on a conference committee in approving the final changes to the bill, which will now be sent to the full House of Representatives and Senate for approval. A Crapo amendment on biomass was the only amendment accepted in conference.The Healthy Forests conference bill retains language expediting forest management decisions and places reasonable limits on legal appeals by directing the courts to balance the long-term harm of inaction. The bill directs half the $760 million allocated for fuels reduction efforts be used in wildland urban interface. For the first time in statute, the legislation includes language protecting old-growth forests. The Crapo amendment authorizes grants to offset the costs incurred in purchasing biomass for commercial purposes. â??This agreement is a tremendous step forward made even stronger by the fact many members of Congress have put aside partisanship and worked together to find a solution to forest management problems in a collaborative manner,â?? Crapo said. â??This bill not only recognizes we must take different approaches to managing differing forests facing drought, disease, and insect problems; it goes further to add jobs for rural economies.â??Not only can we protect residents of communities like Elk City from fire in a proactive fashion, we can also create jobs utilizing small-diameter wood products in Cascade, products that will go back into the forest to heal and prevent the scars from fires and floods,â?? Crapo added. â??This conference bill is an important part of the Presidentâ??s Healthy Forest Initiative, and I hope it will soon be approved quickly so dry Western forests get relief from the threat of these catastrophic fires. I urge the Senate to act soon on the landmark legislation.â??# # #FOR INTERESTED MEDIA: A radio actuality is available by calling 1-800-545-1267. Press 327 at any time during or after the greeting and instructions. You can also access the actuality through the Internet at http://www.senate.gov/~src/radio.