WASHINGTON, D.C. —Language that would spare timberland owners from what they say are expensive and onerous federal regulations for forest roads has been included in a House-Senate compromise version of the federal Farm Bill expected to come up for a vote on Wednesday. Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler has been pushing for inclusion of the language and says it helps preserve thousands of wood products industry jobs.
Herrera Beutler led the effort to include her “forest roads” bill in the House-passed version of the Farm Bill last July. It was absent in the Senate’s Farm Bill, but made it in the final compromise.
In 2011, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned nearly 40 years of EPA regulatory policy by requiring forest roads to go through a more stringent process. It would cost the forest and forest product-related industries in the Northwest up to $883 million per year and be impractical for the Forest Service to administer, the congresswoman said.
Herrera Beutler introduced the Silviculture Regulatory Consistency Act with lead cosponsor Kurt Schrader, D-Ore.
“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 Herrera Beutler. “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.”