Matheson Hails Passage of Bipartisan Forest Health Bill
Congressman Jim Matheson said today that fire-ravaged Western forests will see emergency assistance, along with restoration funding under the provisions of HR 4200-The Forest Emergency Recovery and Research Act-- which passed the House Wednesday.
Matheson said the bipartisan legislation promotes the use of a rapid, science-based evaluation after a large, catastrophic event, such as a wildfire or hurricane.
"Many Western forests have been damaged by years of fire suppression, drought, insect infestation and invasive species," said Matheson. "Where natural recovery is best, that's what should occur, but professional foresters should be able to offer an assist when devastation leaves nothing for nature to work with."
Matheson said that the bill does not promote salvage logging, nor does it exempt the recovery plans from environmental laws such as the Endangered Species Act It does increase the use of peer-reviewed science and funding for research, as well as require collaboration with local governments, Indian tribes and colleges and universities. Streamlining some of the bureaucracy will save taxpayers an estimated $23 million over 9 years.
Matheson said the bill does not apply to lands designated as wilderness, National Park, or National Monument and it specifically prohibits permanent road construction and harvest of live trees. It also provides for leaving dead and down trees important for wildlife habitat.
"Forests make up the overwhelming majority of our critical watersheds in Utah. We need forest professionals to focus on protecting and restoring the streams and soils left vulnerable after a catastrophic fire," Matheson said.