Today, Rep. Glenn "GT" Thompson, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy, and Forestry, held a public hearing to review the U.S. Forest Service's proposed forest planning rule, which the Forest Service issued on February 14, 2011. This proposal revises the Forest Service's current planning process for its 155 national forests and 20 grasslands. The public comment period ends May 16.
The National Forest Management Act of 1976 states that each national forest must develop a management plan with public input. The Forest Service developed regulations in 1979 that were ultimately replaced in 1982 and again in 2000. Since then efforts to make revisions to the forest management plans have failed due to litigation.
There are concerns that this attempt to implement a new planning rule will suffer the same fate because of the rushed process. There are additional concerns that the proposed rule is complex, does nothing to reduce the regulatory burden on those working in the forest products industry, and does not go far enough to promote job growth in forested communities throughout rural America.
"Forestry and timber harvesting contribute to hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic productivity and is one of the most important economic engines in Pennsylvania, particularly throughout the Fifth Congressional District and communities within and surrounding the Allegheny National Forest. I believe we must engage in active land management to ensure the best possible health for national forests. While I appreciate the efforts of the Forest Service in drafting the proposed rule, I do not believe it goes far enough to ensure engagement in active land management practices, and to secure the economic viability of timber production. I look forward to continuing to work with the Forest Service to ensure they stick to the mission of promoting multiple uses and to ensure that our national forests are in the best health for generations to come," said Chairman Glenn Thompson (R-PA).
"The Forest Service and its partners need to work together to ensure a common-sense approach to land management, based on sound science and void of over-burdensome sustainability requirements. A good planning rule should take into account the multiple uses of our national forestland including timber production, habitat preservation, natural resource management and recreation and ensure local economic development and environmental protections work in harmony instead of in competition with each other," said Ranking Member Tim Holden (D-PA).