Ore. county blasts Congress for wildfires

by Rex Storm, Forest Policy Manager
Associated Oregon Loggers

County Faults Congress for National Forests: Wallowa County Commissioners in Sept. approved a resolution blaming the US Congress and President for destructive national forest wildfires and “the deplorable conditions for restoration or sustainability of the forest.” The resolution states that years of Commission collaboration with federal agencies had not resolved the intractable gridlock of wrong-headed laws, rules and plans that block urgently-needed US Forest Service management—which could curb catastrophic wildfires, treat dying forests, and produce valuable timber harvest.

Counties Urge Forest Reforms: The Association of Oregon Counties sent a September letter to Oregon’s congressional delegation asking for urgently-needed reforms to “effectively fight wildfires, rehabilitate burned forests and actively manage federal forests to meet the needs of local communities.” County government leaders expressed dismay at the 500,000 acres of federal lands burned in OR during 2015; and their alarm that federal forests are vulnerable to more fires due to annual harvest removing a meager 7% of the 3.3 billion bdft/year of Oregon federal forest growth.

US Senate Fails to Act on Forest Reforms: The root cause of Eastern Oregon’s massive wildfire and forest health problems are the broken laws and unreasonable rules that govern national forests. The US Senate and Executive Branch have failed to enact law and policy reforms needed to fix the legal gridlock and restore national forest management. US Rep. Walden (R-OR) has worked for years to pass three reform bills in the US House. Yet, the US Senate—and Senators Wyden and Merkley (D-OR)—opposed those national forest reforms, and failed to pass the House bills.
Tell Your Senators to Reform Federal Forests: Urge Oregon’s US Senators to support the ‘Resilient Federal Forests Act’, or comparable proposals, which would reform federal forest management in two ways: increased timber harvest and large wildfire funding. Join forestry allies online, by completing an easy-to-send email comment—using the online letter-writer from the forestry group, ‘Healthy Forests Healthy Communities,’ at: http://www.healthyforests.org/


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