Loggers Urge Congress to Address Wildfire Crisis, Fix Forest Management Policies

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American Loggers Council Supports Passage of Resilient Federal Forests Act

American Loggers Council

As we've seen in some parts of the country, restoring forest health on federal lands has become enormously expensive and inefficient where loggers, log truckers and mill facilities have disappeared.

The American Loggers Council (ALC) today urged the Trump Administration and United States Congress to take action to address the nation's wildfire crisis. So far this year 47,000 fires have burned nearly eight million acres across the country. As the national organization representing America’s professional timber harvesters, ALC believes the federal government should actively manage its forests through logging and mechanized thinning to reduce the risks of severe fire and protect adjoining state and private lands.

With 193 million acres in the National Forest System alone, much of America’s forest land is controlled by the federal government. The U.S. Forest Service estimates up to 80 million acres of federal forest land vulnerable to wildfire, insects and disease and are in need of treatment. A large portion of federally-owned forests are non-reserved and suitable for sustainable timber production. Yet harvest levels on federal lands remain low, with tree growth and mortality rates far exceeding removal.

ALC supports reforms to increase the pace and scale of forest projects. ALC supports sensible reforms to the National Environmental Policy Act and Endangered Species Act, and supports giving the U.S. Forest Service adequate resources to prepare and implement forest projects.

"The U.S. House of Representatives should pass the Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2017 to reduce dangerously high fuel loads on our national forests," said American Loggers Council Executive Vice President Daniel Dructor. "The U.S. Senate must also take action by passing this legislation, or other comprehensive solutions to restore our nation's forests back to health."

The Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2017 gives the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management new tools to reduce the threats to federally-owned forests. It enables agencies to expedite forest health projects on watersheds, remove dead trees after wildfires, and generate new revenues to replant and rehabilitate burned forests. The legislation also provides an alternative to costly and obstructive litigation from special interest groups, reduces project planning times and lowers costs to American taxpayers.

Dructor says addressing America's wildfire crisis is also critical to preserving the nation's forest products infrastructure, which continues to be threatened by low timber harvest levels on federal lands as well as challenging markets due to low energy prices and high imports of wood products from other countries. Putting the nation's loggers and milling infrastructure to work will create more manufacturing jobs and support small family-owned businesses.

"As we've seen in some parts of the country, restoring forest health on federal lands has become enormously expensive and inefficient where loggers, log truckers and mill facilities have disappeared," Dructor said. "Taking action now, and working with the private sector, will enable the federal government to achieve its goal of increasing the pace and scale of forest management activities on federal land. Passing legislation now will allow federal agencies to get ahead of future fire seasons and lower the intensity of fires we're experiencing today."

The American Loggers Council is the only national organization solely dedicated to representing the independent contract logger on the national level. We have the combined forces of independent contractors and state and regional logging associations around the country to impact our industry positively and pro-actively by sharing the benefits of education and training opportunities, networking, research, promotion and legislative coordination. The Council is committed to enhancing the logging profession, establishing a more level playing field for professional loggers and providing accurate information about the logging profession to the forest products companies, landowners and the public. It serves as a national network and communication center, linking local, state and regional organizations around the country.

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Daniel Dructor