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Message to new president on our dying forests

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healthy-forests-healthy-communities [2]By Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities [3],

OUR DYING NATIONAL FORESTS; A DISASTER OR PERFECT OPPORTUNITY FOR BOLD ACTION BY A NEW PRESIDENT

Prior to the 1980s, the U.S. Forest Service was a world leader and champion of forest science; the management of America’s forests were widely acknowledged as the best managed Forests in the World.

Active management of our nation’s forests was mandated by the authorizing legislation that set aside our “Forest Reserves” in the Organic Act of 1897.

Specifically, the intention of the Forest Reserves was “to improve and protect the forest within the reservation…securing favorable conditions of water flows, and to furnish a continuous supply of timber for the use and necessities of citizens of the United States.”

For nearly 100 years, the Forest Service managed the Forest Reserves (now the National Forest System) to meet the demand for housing products and aid in economic recoveries from domestic recessions by providing a stable supply of forest products.

Our timber output topped out at nearly 12 billion board feet in 1985, but a few timber sales were not well thought-out. A concerned Congress, fueled by newly formed environmental groups, mandated restrictive legislation to tightly regulate how our National Forests would be managed. Decisions once couched in sound science were now subject to often uninformed public opinion, illegitimate science and extreme political persuasion through the 1970 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Aided by the 1987 Salvage Rider, ensuing litigation through the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) sparked what is well known as the “War in the Woods” that continues to this day.  Rural economies plummeted when decoupled from raw product removal and legal property tax offsets.  Many mills have closed due to lack of wood to keep them in operation and the inability of the US Forest Service to guarantee supply.

The rise in green power groups as well as politically charged assertions about the government “raping the land” and “lawless logging” clouded the fact that nationally, high harvest levels in the 80s never exceeded 50% of forest growth. The timber harvests of the 80s helped lead this nation out of a deep economic recession.  Today, forest growth far exceeds the ability to thin the overstocked trees because forests are not actively managed.

Since the passage of NEPA and its subsequent reinterpretation by judicial proceedings, our nation’s forests suffer immeasurable environmental degradation that threaten their very existence and those who live in close proximity to them. Insects, disease and wildfire consume forests at rates not present in the historic record. With a rapidly warming climate, this damage will increase every passing year.

The current framework of laws, rules and court decisions threatens clean water, local economies and preservation of our National Forests for future generations with the following results:

Bold leadership and modernizing policy and law could revitalize our National Forests, reenergize a sluggish economy and create high paying jobs.  Existing gridlock cannot be eliminated by any management agency alone.

 The following critical action items are offered to use with groups during the election process and for issuing policy direction after the election. These items will resonate with rural voters and forest-dependent communities and will enlighten urban citizens.

You, as the next President of this great nation, have the opportunity and duty to restore the health and vitality of our National Forests.

/s/  BRUCE COURTRIGHT, Chair, National Wildfire Institute

Ret. Consultant to Chief, Forest Service and Assistant Secy of Agriculture

/s/  LARRY ALEXANDER, Executive Director, National Wildfire Institute

Director, Northern California Resource Center

/s/  WILLIAM DERR, Wildfire and Law Enforcement Advisor, National Wildfire Institute

Ret. U.S. Forest Service Regional Special Agent

/s/  RAY HAUPT, Science Advisor, National Wildfire Institute

Ret. U.S. Forest Service District Ranger

/s/  DAN BAILEY, Board Member, National Wildfire Institute

Director, National Wildland Interface Council and Wildland Fire Consultant

/s/  LYLE LAVERTY, Board Member, National Wildfire Institute

Ret. Assistant Secretary of the Interior and President, The Laverty Group

/s/  ROCKY OPLINGER, Board Member, National Wildfire Institute

National Incident Commander and Deputy Chief, LaVerne Fire Department

OUR DYING NATIONAL FORESTS; A DISASTER OR PERFECT OPPORTUNITY FOR BOLD ACTION BY A NEW PRESIDENT

Prior to the 1980s, the U.S. Forest Service was a world leader and champion of forest science; the management of America’s forests were widely acknowledged as the best managed Forests in the World.

Active management of our nation’s forests was mandated by the authorizing legislation that set aside our “Forest Reserves” in the Organic Act of 1897.

Specifically, the intention of the Forest Reserves was “to improve and protect the forest within the reservation…securing favorable conditions of water flows, and to furnish a continuous supply of timber for the use and necessities of citizens of the United States.”

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