February 11, 2008

CRAPO CO-SPONSORS FOREST HEALTH BILL

Sees collaborative management actions in Forest Landscape Restoration Act

Washington, DC - Forest Service lands in Idaho and other Western states could see an increase in collaboration to improve forest health under a bill co-sponsored by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo. Crapo, the Ranking Member on the Senate Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Rural Revitalization, Conservation, Forestry and Credit, says the legislation establishes funding and a mechanism to restore forest landscapes, not just those scarred by fires.

"This bill is a win-win because it will address forest health and restoration issues in a collaborative manner, and it saves tax dollars in the process because it will help us avoid costly fires," Crapo said. "We need to get out front with consensus-driven efforts to improve forest health and avoid the cycle of fires we've seen over the past few years."

The Forest Landscape Restoration Act was introduced by Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-New Mexico), Pete Domenici (R-New Mexico), Wayne Allard (R-Colorado) and Dianne Feinstein (D-California). Original co-sponsors include: Senators Crapo, Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), Maria Cantwell (D-Washington), Larry Craig (R-Idaho), Ken Salazar (D-Colorado) and Ron Wyden (D-Oregon). The bill encourages private-public partnerships and fuel reduction projects for areas of 50,000 acres or more.

"While this measure improves forest health, it will also encourage economic development through the utilization of forest restoration byproducts," Crapo added. The bill awaits action in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.