Bad bill threatens healthy forests, public input

Bad bill threatens healthy forests, public input

Conservation Northwest / Oct 26, 2017 / Action Alert, National Forests, Protecting Wildlands, Public Lands

WILD NW #273: Contact your Representative and urge them to vote NO on the Resilient Forests Act

The deceptively-named Resilient Forests Act of 2017 (H.R. 2936) is likely to have a vote on the floor of the US House of Representatives during the first few days of November. This is the most extreme bill we’ve seen in decades with respect to the threat it poses to our public forests.

Colville National Forest
The Colville National Forest in northeast Washington is one of many where collaborative restoration is improving forest health while benefiting wildlife and local communities. H.R. 2936 would eliminate this type of public process. Photo: Chase Gunnell

Please use our simple contact form to send a message to your U.S. Representative urging them to vote NO on this harmful bill.

Ostensibly intended to accelerate the type of careful restoration work (thinning and burning) that collaborative groups are having success with to improve the resilience of our forests, the bill would actually cause the opposite. The type of logging it would unleash would harm old-growth, roadless areas, wildlife and streams, and could very well make these lands more vulnerable to uncharacteristic wildfire.

This bill threatens the trust, functionality, and even existence of collaborative efforts that have restored tens of thousands of forest acres in Eastern Washington and elsewhere. And it would do nothing to fix the funding and staffing constraints that actually limit restoration work, as explained in this op-ed co-written by a timber industry leader.

Please take action today and ask your Congressional Representative to OPPOSE H.R. 2936. We expect something close to a party line vote on this bill. If we can get a few Republicans to vote no, that will send a strong signal even if the vote passes.

So if you live in the district of Representatives Reichert (8th District – (202) 225-7761), Herrera Beutler (3rd District – (202) 225-3536), Newhouse (4th District – (202) 225-5816), or McMorris Rodgers (5th District – (202) 225-2006), it’s very important that you call or email them right away. Ask them to vote no on H.R. 2936 and instead work to better fund restoration work on our public forests.

Thank you for speaking up on this important matter,

Additional details on this bad bill. If H.R. 2936 passes (both House and Senate), it will:

  • Override the Roadless Area Conservation Rule of 2001: The bill could override the hard fought protections for nearly 60 million acres of remaining roadless lands on national forests from new road construction and associated resource development. Roadless areas represent the few areas where natural processes and diverse wildlife can still exist with minimal human impacts.
  • Remove Environmental Protections for National Forest and BLM Lands: The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires that all projects that may significantly impact the environment undergo environmental review, and that the public can comment on this review. Certain projects that have small impacts on the environment– things like creating trails, maintaining utility lines, logging less than 70 acres of live trees or 250 acres of dead trees – are “categorically excluded” from analysis. This bill would authorize such CE’s on massive logging projects, up to 30,000 acres.
  • Weaken the Endangered Species Act: The bill would remove the fundamental requirement that the Forest Service consult with the Fish & Wildlife Service on projects that may adversely affect an endangered species. This type of “self-consultation” removes expert opinion and science-based assessment designed to protect our most endangered wildlife.
  • Limit Judicial Review and Public Input: H.R. 2936 eliminates or constrains the ability of citizens to challenge federal forest management decisions in court. It replaces judicial review of many forest management activities on both national forest and BLM lands with a binding arbitration process even if it clearly violated the law. The bill also prohibits a court from stopping a salvage logging project through a preliminary injunction or temporary restraining order and would prevent plaintiffs from recovering attorneys’ fees, even if they are successful in court

Our suggest comments (also available in our simple contact form!)

Dear Honorable U.S. Representative,

The controversial Resilient Forests Act of 2017 (H.R. 2936) has passed out of the House Natural Resources and Agriculture Committees and will soon be moving through Congress. I am writing to strongly voice my opposition to this bill, and to urge you to vote NO on this harmful legislation.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR) is a dangerous attack on our national forests and other public lands. This extreme legislation weakens or rolls back bedrock environmental laws and hard fought administrative protections for clean water, ancient old-growth forests, critical habitat, endangered wildlife, and healthy watersheds. 

The bill destroys environmental and judicial protections by:

  • Severely undermining the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by creating sweeping and arbitrary waivers at unprecedented levels, limiting consideration of alternatives, and establishing radically short deadlines.
  • Eliminating citizen access to judicial relief, even when the government fails to follow the law.
  • Opening up millions of acres of treasured roadless areas to harmful road-building and logging.
  • Reallocating funds away from environmental restoration toward timber production.
  • Dismantling interagency consultation that provides checks and balances integral to protecting critical wildlife under the Endangered Species Act.
  • Threatening national monument designation under the Antiquities Act.

Our national forests and grasslands are a national treasure. They provide a broad range of values and benefits, including clean air and water, outstanding recreational opportunities, biodiversity, fish and wildlife habitat, forest products, erosion control, soil renewal, and more. It is critical to preserve and protect these public lands for future generations to come, and to provide the Forest Service with the resources it needs to do so.
Please vote NO on the Resilient Forests Act of 2017 (H.R. 2936)!