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Issue Position: Healthy Forests

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"We've ignored federal forests long enough to take stock of the results: staggering unemployment in rural Oregon, catastrophic wildfire, massive bug kill, and threatened habitat and watersheds. Simply put, our federal forests are a national treasure in peril. It's time to act and get our rural communities working and taking care of the forests again." -- Greg Walden

The Healthy Forests Restoration Amendments Act of 2009 (HR 4233)

Greg Walden helped lead the introduction of this bipartisan bill, which serves an update to the original Healthy Forests Restoration Act (HFRA), which Walden helped author. H.R. 4233 would:

Create jobs. Oregon holds one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. In many counties where choked federal forests dominate the landscape, unemployment pushes 15 or even 20 percent.

Bring forests back to health. In 2003, Congress passed the strongly bipartisan Healthy Forests Restora­tion Act. Where implemented, it has reduced the incidence and severity of catastrophic wildfire. Since the bill was signed into law, however, wildfires have burned more than 40 million acres in the United States, an area larger than North Da­kota, and have devastated habitat, water sources, and communities in the West.

All current environmental laws, regulations and public appeal opportunities would still apply, and thorough site analyses already prescribed in the strongly bipartisan HFRA would still need to be performed.

This bill would give professional federal foresters and scientists what they have asked for: the authority to use the same successful tools in HFRA outside the 1.5-mile-wide, donut-shaped Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) that surrounds communities, where forests are at highest risk of catastrophic wildfire and bug kill.

"To give our forests a fighting chance to adapt to a changing climate, we must restore health and resiliency. We believe this legislation will help accomplish this goal."


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