Disaster Relief Supplemental Funding Moving in Senate
Senate Republicans plan to pass a $13.6 billion disaster relief bill for areas impacted by wildfires and Hurricanes Michael and Florence by the end of March. Sponsors of the bipartisan legislation (S. 572) say they have President Trump’s support. The House already passed a $14.2 billion aid measure in January. Both bills include supplemental funding for the Emergency Forest Restoration Program, the National Forest System, and State and Private Forestry. If the Senate were to pass a disaster relief bill, a conference committee deal would likely move quickly to a passage in the House and Senate.
Biomass 101 provided an informative counterpoint to an opinion piece that appeared in the March 7 edition of The Hill. The opinion makes the claim that burning wood is adding to climate change. Look for the opinion and counterpoint here.
Support for Forest Service Programs
FRA joined with other associations and signed on to letters in support of funding U.S. Forest Service programs. These programs provide support for Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA), State and Private Forestry, and Research and Development. The FIA program is a continuous inventory of our nation’s forestlands and provides many benefits to FRA members. State and Private Forestry provides important technical and financial assistance to private landowners about forest management. The Research and Development program provides for research that is important to support forest policy efforts and land management decisions. These letters will be sent to the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies next week. The support letters were prepared by the American Forest Foundation.
Historic Lands Act Signed into Law
On March 13, President Trump signed the Natural Resources Management Act (NRMA) into law. The NRMA combined more than 100 separate bills that collectively designate 1.4 million acres of wilderness, 367 miles of new scenic rivers, and 2,600 miles of new national trails. The law also permanently reauthorizes the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund that provides grants to fund parks, wildlife and recreation projects in all 50 states. In February, the House and Senate passed the NRMA in an unusual bipartisan fashion.
Today, the US Fish and Wildlife Service published their plan to remove federal protections for wolves in the Federal Register. David Bernhardt, acting Secretary of the DOI said: “The facts are clear and indisputable—the gray wolf no longer meets the definition of a threatened or endangered species.” The proposed rule would have the greatest impact in the states of Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin where forest management has led to the recovery of the species, and where a court order has retained ESA protections for well-established wolf populations. The proposed rule will have a 60-day comment period, which ends on May 14. The DOI news release can be found here.
A Good ReadCongressman Bruce Westerman, representing Arkansas’s fourth district, contributing opinion editorial was published in The Hill on March 14. The Congressman promotes that the best way to preserve forests is to use trees! We agree.