As a representative of a congressional district that is home to nine national forests, Congressman Walden understands just how important the health, vitality, and sustainability of our forestlands are - not only for the present, but for generations to come. American's forestlands are national treasures that provide habitat and recreational opportunities and are a resource that can help drive local economies.
Throughout the last two years, Congressman Walden has worked diligently on the issue of restoring forests following catastrophic events. In his subcommittee, Walden has heard from many expert witnesses during eight hearings about the need for timely and responsible management in federal forests following devastation caused by catastrophic events. While forest fire is most familiar to the West, other events that damage forestlands across the country - such as ice storms, hurricanes and windstorms - can also cause severe destruction.
As a result of these events, nearly one million acres of federal forestland is currently in need of reforestation, a number which is rising according to a recent report released by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office.
Aside from preventing additional reforestation backlog, timely action is needed in federal forests to prevent dead and dying timber from creating excessive fuel loads for future wildfire, becoming overcome with bug infestation and losing all economic value that could help create jobs and support local economies.
Inaction in forests following these catastrophic events may be appropriate in some cases, but in many, it is simply irresponsible. We must give federal land managers the tools and resources necessary to become the best possible stewards of our lands and the ability to expeditiously recover damaged forests is a component of this.
To address the tremendous need for swift and responsible action in forests following catastrophic events, Congressman Walden introduced a piece of common-sense, bipartisan legislation that would not only help land managers achieve forest management objectives, but would restore and preserve the environmental health of national forests for future generations to come while taking advantage of economic benefits dead trees can provide.
The Forest Emergency Recovery & Research Act, H.R. 4200, immediately earned broad bipartisan support from Members of Congress representing diverse parts of our nation due to its smart and responsible approach to post-catastrophic forest recovery and the research needed on these lands. Walden introduced H.R. 4200 with Congressman Brian Baird (D-WA), Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth (D-SD), and Congressman Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD).
The legislation was recently passed by the House of Representatives with a strong bipartisan vote of 243-182, including 41 Democrats voting in favor of the legislation. You can read Congresman Walden's release here.