June 12, 2009

Crapo, Risch Seek Forest Jobs, Collaboration Funding

Cite benefits to rural communities and forests

Washington, DC. - Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch are asking Senate appropriators to fully fund a program that would create new jobs and renewable energy products in the nation's forests, while protecting watersheds and wildlife habitat. Both Senators joined 14 other colleagues to request $40 million in funding for the Forest Landscape Restoration Act. The original language, sponsored by Crapo, was included in the Omnibus Public Land Management Act passed earlier this year. The Senate Appropriations Committee is now considering appropriations requests for the FY10 Budget.

"We have authorized this program that creates new jobs in Idaho's forests and benefits our environment and our rural communities, while creating renewable energy and value-added forest products," Crapo noted. "Now, we have to make sure this collaborative program is fully-funded."

"It is very important for our Idaho communities near federal forests to get this funding. The benefits it will provide in protecting our forests, reducing fire risk to homeowners, and creating jobs, are significant," said Risch.

The Forest Landscape Restoration Act language creates a fund that prioritizes landscape-scale forest projects. The law encourages private investment and collaborative efforts to create new forest jobs, prioritize energy and value-added products from timber harvests and promotes healthy forests, while reducing the risk of wildfires.

The funding would assist in the creation of collaborative plans on public lands for a number of results, such as encouraging forest restoration, improving water quality, providing habitat or road maintenance, creating biomass products for heating and other uses, and for thinning to improve forest health and aid in fire prevention.

The letter led by Crapo and Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-New Mexico) was sent to the Senate Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Chairman Dianne Feinstein, and Ranking Member Lamar Alexander. In addition to Crapo and Risch, the letter was signed by Senators Max Baucus (D-Montana), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Mark F. Bennet (D-Colorado), Barbara Boxer (D-California), Richard Burr (R-North Carolina), Maria Cantwell (D-Washington), Blanche Lincoln (D-Arkansas), Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon), Bill Nelson (D-Florida), Jon Tester (D-Montana), Mark Udall (D-Colorado) and Ron Wyden (D-Oregon).