Democratic News

It’s not every day that you see six chairmen on the same page – literally – when it comes to forest policy and funding priorities.  But the newly enacted Forest Landscape Restoration Act, which President Obama signed in to law two weeks ago today as part of the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009, has generated such backing.  The statute promises significant benefits for economic development, environmental restoration, renewable energy production and wildfire management.  Now that the bill is law, the leadership of key Congressional committees have joined together to urge support for the funding that is necessary to implement this legislation.
April 10, 2009
The President
The White House
Washington, D.C.  20500
Dear Mr. President:
Our Nation’s forests and the communities that depend on them are facing deteriorating forest health and economic stability, increasing wildfire risk and management costs, and changing climates and scientific understanding.  The Forest Landscape Restoration Act, which you recently signed into law as title IV of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, responds to these challenges by establishing a collaborative process that relies on the best-available science to plan and prioritize landscape-scale forest restoration projects that benefit local economies.  To make large-scale, long-term restoration projects feasible, the Act authorizes $40 million per year to be appropriated into a national fund that will supplement local resources and leverage non-Federal support for carrying out the restoration projects.
Communities will benefit from the improved watershed function, fish and wildlife habitat, and general ecosystem health; from the economic growth resulting from using woody biomass for renewable energy and value-added products; and from the reduced threat from and damage caused by wildfires.  The taxpayers will benefit from reduced wildfire suppression and restoration treatment costs, and healthier, safer, and more productive public lands.
The Forest Landscape Restoration Act enjoys broad support in Congress and communities across the country -- in part because of the urgency of the cause and the readiness of the stakeholders.  We recognize that much of the work in developing your fiscal year 2010 budget proposal already is complete, but we hope you will make any adjustments that may be necessary to fund the Forest Landscape Restoration Act in your fiscal year 2010 budget for the USDA Forest Service.  While funding for this program would be a small amount in the context of the overall budget, it will have a large impact on our forests and communities.
Thank you for your consideration, and we look forward to working with you and your Administration to fulfill the promise of this new law.
Jeff Bingaman, Chairman                                                   
Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
Nick J. Rahall, II, Chairman
House Committee on Natural Resources
Ron Wyden, Chairman                                                 
Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests    
Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
Raúl M. Grijalva, Chairman
Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands
House Committee on Natural Resources
Dianne Feinstein, Chairman                             
Subcommittee on Interior, Environment,
and Related Agencies                                                  
Senate Committee on Appropriations  
Norman D. Dicks, Chairman
Subcommittee on Interior, Environment,                      
and Related Agencies                                                                    
House Committee on Appropriations  
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