March 10, 2005

Forest Health Legislation Progresses

Language from Crapo, others approved as final vote nears

Washington, D.C. - Bipartisan language drafted by a coalition of senators including Idaho Senator Mike Crapo to improve elements of the Healthy Forests Restoration Act was overwhelmingly approved by a 97-1 vote in the U.S. Senate today as final passage of a forest health bill draws near. In the wake of devastating fires in Southern California, the Senate has opened debate on H.R. 1904, and initial votes on amendments to the bill make it appear final passage could come soon.During a speech on the Senate floor, Crapo noted areas of Idaho around Elk City, which he visited this past summer, face many of the same threats from catastrophic fire that California is now seeing. He said the Senate compromise protects old growth timber but expedites action to deal with drought and bug-killed timber stands susceptible to wildfires.Crapo said the compromise allows â??at risk lands to be cared for in a collaborative, efficient manner by local forest managers. This bill, if passed, will safeguard communities and protect public involvement in the process. Progressive, long-term solutions can be tailored to individual circumstances through public comment, and multiple stakeholder input in the project planning process. The Healthy Forests Restoration Act accomplishes this task, streamlining the many aspects of project planning, and creating a healthier environment for our forests, wildlife, and population,â?? Crapo said.â??Nothing inhibits forest management as severely as undue regulatory burdens and dead-end legal wrangling,â?? added Crapo. â??Purposeful management and responsible stewardship takes into account sound forest science, local management, local concerns, and collaborative planning. The compromise contained in this legislation is broad-based and critical to the health of our forests. It contains important provisions that have previously been at odds. We have managed to bring these concerns together for a common-sense approach to forest management. This bill preserves citizen involvement in the process, protect old-growth forests, at the same time allowing for sensible hazardous fuels reduction efforts.â??# # #