CONCORD, N.H. — A strong bipartisan effort to pass H.B. 2936, the Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2017, was applauded today by the New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association. The bill, which has already passed the House of Representatives and now moves on to the Senate, would expedite and improve forest management activities in federal forests. The NHTOA is dedicated to promoting sustainable forest management on both public and private land.
Jasen Stock, NHTOA’s executive director, especially singled out Rep. Annie Kuster (D-N.H.) and her staff for their work to gain passage of the bill, which was introduced in June by Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ariz.). “Over many years, Congresswoman Kuster has been unflinching in her support of forest management, and her support across the aisle for H.B. 2936 demonstrates yet again that she puts the health of our forests above partisan politics,” he said.
In a statement he made in early October as the House Agriculture Committee began to review the proposed legislation, Rep. Westerman said: “This legislation is an important step in expediting forest management activities in the National Forest System to promote healthy, resilient forests and prevent catastrophic wildfires… We are committed to further providing the Forest Service the tools it needs to carry out its mission. I was proud of the bipartisan support this committee showed last Congress during our committee mark-up.”
While the bill singles out wildfires in National Forests as a particular concern, Stock notes that wildfire control, especially in severe years such as 2017, heavily impacts the overall Forest Service budget, with consequences felt in New England National Forests.
“We are very pleased that this bill has a good chance of success in Congress and becoming law,” Stock commented. “Thanks to the hard bipartisan work of Congresswoman Kuster and her colleagues on the Agriculture Committee, we hope to see an end to the perennial raiding of eastern National Forest budgets to cover western National Forest catastrophic fire expenses.”