WASHINGTON, D.C. - Oregon Congressman Bob Smith, Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, today praised the House of Representatives' passage of the Quincy Library Group Forest Recovery and Economice Stability Act (H.R. 858), saying local efforts to reach consensus can produce far greater results than bureaucratic paper shuffling in Washington.
The bill, introduced by Rep. Wally Herger (R-CA), establishes a five year pilot project to test innovative approaches to forest management proposed by the Quincy Library Group, a community-based coalition of environmentalists, the forest products industry, and local elected officials in Northern California.
Smith, an original cosponsor of the Quincy Library Group bill, has made forestry one of the Agriculture Committee's highest priorities in the 105th Congress, and is drafting additional legislation to improve forest health and federal lands management nationwide.
"I strongly support the bill and particularly the cooperative effort by such diverse interests. We can manage the forests to reduce fuel loads, protect and enhance forest health, and provide for economic activity in our communities, but it takes a cooperative, proactive effort. The Quincy Library Group is just that," Smith said.
"Today we rely on science to guide forest policy and the science tells us that we must manage the forests in order to save them. Not managing is, in fact, mismanaging the forests. The pilot projects begun under this bill can provide new and innovative ways to improve forest health and manage forests to protect the resource while providing the greatest possible range of benefits," Smith said.
"I'm convinced that the best ideas in forestry and federal land management come not from the bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., but from the local communities where the rubber really meets the road. The fact is that after years of declining forest health, the federal land management agencies aren't accomplishing much," Smith said.
"Forest Service Chief Mike Dombeck has testified that 40 million acres of national forests in America are at extreme risk of destruction by catastrophic wildfire and that, under present policies, only 1 million acres per year are being treated. That's just not good enough. At that rate, it would take 40 years to rehabilitate those forests, if they don't burn up by then. Clearly, the agencies' efforts are not meeting the enormous risk to our forests," Smith said.
"I'm convinced there's a better way, and the Quincy Library Group is an example of the kind of locally based, cooperative effort that can enhance our forest resources," Smith said.
Smith represents Oregon's Second Congressional District, which includes most of eastern, southern, and central Oregon, in the U.S. House of Representatives. The district is home to ten national forests.