Not exactly breaking news, but this is mid-semester, misery-index at 8.5, so I get a pass:
Excerpts from a letter recently sent to Senator Tester from the Secretary of Agriculture.
As with any new program or pilot, providing sufficient funding will be critical to allowing the Forest Service to prepare and implement mechanical treatments using stewardship contracts, timber sales contracts, and other means, Since there are many high-priority programs throughout the National Forest System, we cannot shift funding from other regions to fund these treatments. Thus, I support the inclusion of language in this proposed legislation that states it will not impact funds from other regions.
I’m curious as to what such legislative language would/could look like? Any relevant examples? Did these provisions matter?
No matter which approach is taken, I understand the legislation would establish performance standards for 70,000 acres of mechanical treatment on the Beaverhead Deerlodge National Forest and 30,000 acres on the Kootenai National Forest over the next 15 years. I believe these goals are ambitious, but sustainable and achievable.
Contrast this to the Undersecretary of Agriculture Harris Sherman’s testimony last December 2009:
S. 1470 in particular includes levels of mechanical treatment that are likely unachievable and perhaps unsustainable. The levels of mechanical treatment called for in the bill far exceed historic treatment levels on these forests, and would require an enormous shift in resources from other forests in Montana and other states to accomplish the treatment levels specified in the bill.
Of national significance, perhaps the most important question related to Tester’s bill is the precedent that would be established in legislating timber treatment mandates on national forests. So even if the Secretary finds such timber treatment mandates in Tester’s bill “sustainable and achievable,” what might those treatment mandates look like in other proposals if such legislation is now politically acceptable.
I also remain convinced that if such mandates become law, timber interests engaged in various collaboratives will use them as leverage in their bargaining positions. Why wouldn’t timber interests strike the same posture? And ask for the same things as provided for in Tester’s bill?
Back to the Secretary’s letter:
However, the holistic package of mechanical treatments, wilderness designations, and job creation, along with the collaborative approach and hard work of the stakeholders in Montana, and your work directly with the Forest Service, ensure that this legislation can serve as a model for similar efforts elsewhere.
A model to be replicated? So does this mean that the USFS will now support place-based forest legislation in principle?
If the agency supports the Senator’s place-based legislative approach to National Forest management, what does this mean for other place-based proposals in the pipeline, like Senator Wyden’s Oregon forest Bill (S. 2595)?