The Latest: A House bill would double timber harvest
by Jodi Peterson
Western counties that once relied on timber revenue, especially in Oregon, now depend instead on federal aid provided by the Secure Rural Schools Act. But the law expired this year, and federal forest managers are trying new logging methods to increase income while also protecting forests. However, state and federal lawmakers continually press for higher harvest levels on national forests ("A new forest paradigm," HCN, 4/29/13).
In mid-September, the House passed the Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act, which would continue Secure Rural Schools for one more year. After that, local governments would again have to depend on logging revenues for most funding. Conservation groups oppose provisions in the act that double timber harvest from national forests and curtail environmental review, but supporters say it will create 200,000 jobs and save nearly $400 million. The White House threatens a veto, stating that the legislation "would significantly harm sound long-term management of these Federal lands," harm wildlife and forests, and conflict with existing law.