U.S. House Adopts Federal Forestry Management Reform Bill

Washington, DC…On Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives approved H.R. 1526, the Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act. H.R. 1526 attempts to create a mechanism to properly manage federal forests in order to minimize wildfires, increase timber harvests, and provide for economic opportunities in rural communities.  The bill also extends the Secure Rural School program for an additional year.

RCRC applauds the House for addressing the important issue of forest management.  Federal forest lands are an important thread in the fabric of much of rural California, and RCRC supports many of the provisions in H.R. 1526.  While RCRC urged members of the House to move forward with H.R. 1526, several concerns were expressed with how this legislation will impact California counties, primarily the need to have proper time to ensure the successful transition from SRS to the new payment system outlined in H.R. 1526. RCRC’s letter can be accessed here.

H.R. 1526’s future in the Senate is unlikely as key Senators and the Obama Administration have indicated their disproval with this approach, namely the environmental process changes and the likelihood of increased timber yields in nearly every forest.  It is expected that H.R. 1526 will motivate Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) – Chairman of the Senate Committee which oversees forestry reform – to craft a forest reform package which has bi-partisan support, as well as support among key House Republicans.  That effort is likely to be unveiled later this year or in early 2014.

H.R. 1526 was approved 244 to 173 with all but one House Republican voting “aye,” and 17 Democrats giving its support.

For additional information, please contact RCRC Senior Legislative Advocate Paul A. Smith at 916.447.4806 or psmith@rcrcnet.org.