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Public Statements

Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mrs. LUMMIS. Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of the act because it will save forests in Wyoming and the West. These are fabulous natural resources enjoyed by people and wildlife, but across the West they are burning or dying after decades of Federal mismanagement.

This photograph is from the Black Hills National Forest. Right here, you see a very lush green area in the forest. Adjacent to that, you have brown areas with dead or dying trees that have been ravaged by the mountain pine beetle. Where you find that healthy wildlife habitat, that healthy soil that's resistant to erosion, the healthy rivers and streams, the safe area to camp and hike and recreate, is because you have a healthy forest that was actively managed.

This green area was logged. It was thinned. The thinning is selective, it's measured, and designed to maintain a healthy and strong mix of trees. The brown area wasn't thinned. Bureaucratic delays, litigation, and endless appeals prevented conservation logging in this area. When you don't manage a forest, the entire ecosystem suffers from the trees down to the wildlife, the soil, and the streams. It's dangerous to camp or hike in the brown area because of the dead or falling trees. The dead trees are now fuel for fires, and we've seen them all over the West in the last 3 years, including this summer. This picture is replicated throughout the West, dead or burning Federal forests right next to healthy State or tribal forests, because the State and tribal forests are actively managed.

Our forests don't have to look like this. They can look like this. This act will get the Forest Service back to work on conservation logging, create jobs in the forest-products industry, create revenue for Federal and local governments, and prevent the astronomical costs of responding to wildfires and infestations.

It also gives State and local government a voice in forest management within their borders. Through good neighbor authority and community forest demonstration areas, we're involving the people who actually live near those forests who depend on that beautiful place to live.

Mr. Chair, this is one of the most commonsense bills I've had the privilege of helping with. I urge its passage.


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