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McClintock: Budgeting And The National Forests Crisis

Washington D.C. — Yesterday the Federal Lands Subcommittee held a meeting to examining the spending priorities and missions of the forest service as outlined in the President’s Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Proposal. Local Congressman McClintock’s opening remarks as Chairman of the Federal Lands Subcommittee were strongly opposed to the proposal. Chairman McClintock says, “at a time when the Forest Service has utterly failed to responsibly manage our forests, it seeks massive increases in funding to acquire still more forest land.  That means transferring land from private hands, where it has been well managed, to the federal government that has spectacularly failed in its land management responsibilities.”

Congressman McClintock noted in his district, covering the Sierra Nevada, more than 1,000 square miles of forest have been destroyed by catastrophic wild fire in the last three years and an estimated 85 percent of the pine tree stock in the Sierra National Forest is dead or dying. He calls for the allowances to remove commercially viable excess timber before it can burn, estimating it will yield “about $300 of direct federal revenues per acre per year if the forests were properly managed.” Favoring that logging revenue McClintock says bringing back the Secure Rural Schools Act “does not strengthen economic opportunities – rather it compensates rural communities for pennies on the dollar what they lost from the economic activities that [environmental] policies destroyed.” Details about a forest management study are in the news story “Finding Compromise In Forest Through New Research.”

McClintock adds, “If [revenues are] directed toward reclamation, we could have healthy forests again in a matter of years.” He also points out the biggest part of the National Forest Service’s budget is fire suppression noting the Resilient Forests Act of 2015 “now languishes in the Senate.” Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors sent a letter to US Senator Diane Feinstein in July, requesting her support of the legislation which seeks to protect some forest management project funding by using money already set aside for natural disasters to fight fires. McClintock said previously the Act will help speed up salvage work immediate following a fire. As noted in the Supervisor’s letter the legislation also might have prevented lawsuits like the ones seen after the Rim Fire.

McClintock’s full opening statement is in his blog here, including the entire one hour and 32 minute hearing.