August 02, 2006

Crapo Hearing To Look at Forest Recovery

Legislation to provide tools for timely restoration

Washington, DC â?? The timely recovery from the devastating effects of catastrophes on public lands is the focus of a hearing in a Senate Agriculture subcommittee today. Idaho Senator Mike Crapo, who serves as Chariman of the Forestry, Conservation and Rural Revitalization subcommittee, chairs the hearing on H.R. 4200, the Forest Emergency Recovery and Research Act (FERRA), a measure which has already cleared the U.S. House of Representatives.H.R. 4200 is a bipartisan bill that was introduced by Representatives Greg Walden (R-Oregon) and Brian Baird (D-Washington) which has been two years in the making. The legislation identifies and addresses obstacles in forest recovery following catastrophic events, such as drought, hurricanes, floods, wildfire, and insect infestations.In his opening statement, Crapo said, â??This legislation is about more than forest fires. It is about what happens after a tornado, such as the tornado that tore a 12-mile swath through Idahoâ??s Payette National Forest in June impacting nearly 5000 acres of public and private forested land. It is about what happens after hurricanes tear through vast stretches of forest land. It is about what happens after insects infest forests threatening neighboring communities.â??Witnesses at todayâ??s hearing include Administration officials from the Interior and Agriculture Departments, local, county and state officials who have dealt with catastrophic forest recovery needs, and scientific experts. The hearing is slated to be broadcast live on C-SPAN, beginning at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time.â??Three years ago, we were able to put together the Healthy Forest Restoration Act to provide land managers with more workable and effective tools to counter unhealthy conditions in our public forests,â?? Crapo concluded. â??However, as work is being done, additional storms, fires, and insect infestations are contributing to the backlog of forest land in need of reforestation. FERRA gives us another opportunity to build on the successes that we have seen under HFRA and provides a mechanism to quickly restore forests damaged by catastrophic events. I look forward to hearing from the witnesses and gain a better understanding of what is necessary to improve the health of our public forests and rangelands.â??A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released Monday recommends that agencies improve the prioritization of recovery projects and augment research to help guide decisions. Recovery evaluation provisions in FERRA would assist with identifying forest needs after an event, and FERRA would help fund restoration and research.