HEALTHY FORESTS RESTORATION ACT
Mr. CHAMBLISS. Mr. President, I rise today to express my support for H.R. 1904, the Healthy Forests Restoration Act.
I commend the chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, THAD COCHRAN, and his staff who have worked tirelessly since this legislation was reported out of Committee to reach a compromise with members on both sides of the aisle who have concerns about this legislation.
In the South forest fires pale in comparison to forest fires of the West. In my home State of Georgia, we don't have a significant threat from fire in our forests because we receive adequate moisture throughout the year. According to the Georgia Forestry Commission, my State experiences approximately 8 thousand fires each year damaging or destroying approximately 38,000 acres of forestland.
However with 24.6 million acres of forestland in the State of Georgia, which is nearly two-thirds of my home State, major outbreaks of disease caused by pathogens and insects such as the southern pine beetle pose a significant threat to forests in the South. In 2002 alone, damage caused by the southern pine beetle totaled over $150 million.
The forest community has waited long enough for comprehensive forest management legislation. It is time for the Senate to pass this legislation so that Americans have the tools to manage our Nation's forestsby putting out fires and by reducing disease and insect pressure. This act will help our Nation's forest to flourish for generations to come.