Jaime Herrera Beutler Successfully Fights to Include Critical Forest Roads Protection in Farm Bill
Senate-House compromise will preserve responsible treatment of forest roads, help sustain 76,000 Washington state jobs
Today, Jaime Herrera Beutler announced that her legislative initiative to preserve sensible, science-based management of forest roads had been included in the U.S. House-Senate compromise Farm Bill. Jaime led the effort to include her “forest roads” bill in the House-passed version of the Farm Bill last July, and despite its absence in the Senate’s Farm Bill, successfully fought to include it in the final compromise.
In 2011, the Ninth Circuit Court overturned nearly 40 years of successful EPA regulatory policy by requiring forest roads to go through the same environmental permitting process as industrial parking lots. This process would cost the forest and forest product-related industries in the Northwest up to $883 million per year. For the U.S. Forest Service alone, acquiring the 400,000 necessary permits would take the agency 10 years – at the expense of the taxpayers.
In response, Jaime introduced the Silviculture Regulatory Consistency Act with lead cosponsor Kurt Schrader (D-OR) in order to protect tens of thousands of forest product-industry jobs in the Pacific Northwest. Although the U.S. Supreme Court recently overturned most of the Ninth Circuit Court's decision, Jaime’s legislation permanently protects the 76,000 forest industry jobs from this costly regulation and related lawsuits.
The compromise Farm Bill is expected to receive a vote by the U.S. House on Wednesday, January 29.
“In a resource-rich region like Southwest Washington, maintaining working forests is critical to providing good family-wage jobs for thousands of moms and dads,” said Jaime. “By keeping in place four decades of science-based approach to our forests, we take a giant step forward to make sure these jobs are protected from burdensome red tape and costly litigation. I am thankful for the hard work of Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas and my colleagues in the Senate to include this permanent, bipartisan job protecting initiative in the Farm Bill.”
“The passing of this bill will be a blessing for jobs in the forest industry,” said Dean Rudolf, Western Regional Director of the Pulp and Paper Resource Council. “It will save forest land owners thousands of dollars in permits, which they would of been required to obtain just to remove timber from their own land. The housing and paper industries rely heavily on this system to sustain thousands of forest products jobs, and they have always worked hard to watch over our environment.”
“For over a hundred years our family has lived on the land and made the necessary expenditures to keep our forests sustainable, while continuing to improve the protection of water resources and enhancement of wildlife habitat,” said Tom Westergreen, fourth generation tree farmer and forester and President of the Washington Farm Forestry Association. “It is a relief to see that farm bill conferees have made the sensible decision to allow forest landowners, like us, to manage our private forests, which are already under very protective laws and regulations, without having additional regulatory hurdles or risk of frivolous lawsuits that would provide no additional public resource protection, but can discourage us from staying on the land.”