WASHINGTON, DC – The Restoring Healthy Forests Act, HR 1526, was approved today by the House of Representatives by a vote of 244-173.
The measure includes an amendment by California 4th District Congressman Tom McClintock, to allow the burned timber from the 2013 fire areas to be salvaged in an expedited manner. McClintock’s amendment was adopted by a vote of 243-172.
“This measure has taken on poignant and crucial importance to my district in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, where the Yosemite Rim fire has burned through hundreds of square miles of forest land,” remarked Congressman McClintock. “Salvaging the timber will provide for an economic lifeline to communities already devastated by this fire as local mills can be brought to full employment salvaging the timber.”
HR 1526 was introduced on April 12, 2013, by Rep. Doc Hastings, R-WA, along with 22 co-sponsors including Congressman McClintock.
Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act directs the Secretary of Agriculture (USDA) to establish at least one Forest Reserve Revenue Area within each unit of the National Forest System. These Areas are to be designated for sustainable forest management for the production of national forest materials, including the sale of trees, portions of trees, or forest products.
The bill also requires that 25% of the forest reserve revenues be paid to states for the benefit of public schools and public roads for counties containing National Forest land that were eligible to receive payments under the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000.
McClintock’s office released this statement:
An estimated one billion board feet of fire killed timber can still be salvaged out of forests that have been devastated by the Yosemite Rim fire. Immediate action is required, however, because after a short period of time the timber declines until it becomes unsalvageable. The amendment authored by Congressman McClintock streamlines the process by waiving judicial review of salvage plans for the 2013 fires.
A second amendment by the Congressman to H.R. 1526 was also approved by a vote of 249-166. That amendment guarantees that the public will have a full opportunity to comment before the U.S. Forest Service decides to close or destroy a forest road.
Among other things the forest legislation, H.R. 1526, streamlines regulations and refocuses the Forest Service’s mission on sound forest management practices, meaning environmentally healthier forests and economically healthier communities. The bill also includes a one-year extension of the Secure Rural Schools program to maintain an important lifeline to counties as the Forest Service transitions back to productive timber management.
Click here for the breakdown of the vote in the House of Representatives.
H.R. 1526 next goes to the United States Senate.