Mr. THOMPSON of Pennsylvania. Mr. Speaker, over a century ago, the Federal Government pledged to actively manage our forests when Congress created the National Forest System. This management includes activities such as prescribed fires and thinning--and, yes, timber harvesting is a core part of this duty. A portion of the revenues reaped from the forests would go to the counties containing National Forest lands in order to supplant the lost local tax revenues. Unfortunately, the Federal Government has failed to uphold this commitment.
One example is revealed when you compare the harvests of adjacent lands. In the Fifth District of Pennsylvania, the Collins Pine Company currently owns 120,000 acres in the Allegheny Plateau, an area adjacent to the Allegheny National Forest, which totals 493,000 acres of forest land. Collins Pine sustainably harvests the same amount of timber as the entire Allegheny National Forest on less than a quarter of the acreage. This lack of adequate forest management has deprived rural counties of revenue needed to fund critical local projects such as schools and infrastructure projects.
Mr. Speaker, we must restore the active and healthy management of our national forests in order to provide a stable revenue stream for rural schools and counties and to help build back these robust local economies.