June 12, 2018 3:45 a.m.
Oregon’s U.S. Senators have announced that the 2018 Farm Bill proposed by the Senate doubles the size of the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program and extends it until 2023.
A release from Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley calls the program “critical” and says it helps to fund collaborative and community based forest management, has a proven track record of improving forest health, reducing wildfire risk and supporting rural communities.
Last month Merkley and Idaho Republican Senator Mike Crapo led a group of senators in introducing the legislation to continue the collaborative forest program and to expand its reach by doubling the authorized funding.
Merkley said that collaborative forest management strategies have proven successful on many levels including “thinning overgrown forests and creating better timber stands, improving ecosystems, building better fire resistance, and creating more jobs and more saw logs for mills”.
Wyden said the program plays a critical role for Oregon’s forests so they can “generate jobs and remain healthy for decades to come”.
The release from the senators says the program requires various local stakeholders to collaborate, resulting in “stronger relationships on the ground, better projects, and a decreased risk of conflict and litigation”. To date the program is credited with 23 projects in 14 states which have sold more than 2.5 billion board feet of timber.
The funding expansion, from $40 million to $80 million per year, is supported by a broad cross section of the timber industry, rural economic development entities, and environmental organizations, according to the release.