Our National Forests are by definition multi-use areas. They sustain a thriving recreation economy, protect wildlife and waterways, and support timber, grazing, and development. To balance all these interests, we must ensure that different communities can participate in decision making.
Today the House is considering a bill that could change how the recreation community participates in land use decisions. The bill, H.R. 2647, the “Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2015,” establishes a number of new exclusions from environmental review requirements for logging projects. By enabling logging projects to skirt these review requirements, the bill would cut out important opportunities for the community to engage in forest management decisions. Ultimately, it elevates a single interest—timber—over the diverse activities that take place on National Forests, including recreation.
How does the bill work? It would change the composition of resource advisory committees, which advise the forest service on land use decisions, in way that drastically reduces the voice of recreation interests and more geographically dispersed stakeholders. Imagine a committee that is supposed to decide how to allocate Forest Service resources. You would want a fair distribution of all the stakeholders on our National Forests, including the perspective of millions of recreational users. Instead, this bill short-circuits the process that would include a diverse and well-balanced array of stakeholders.
In addition, the bill proposes changes to wildfire funding that would not be nearly as effective as the proposed Wildfire Disaster Funding Act, which has tremendous bipartisan support.
Read our full letter about HR 2647 here.