Wyden to tackle forestry issues early in 113th Congress

This is from E&E news and posted here.

Below is an excerpt:

Wyden to tackle forestry issues early in 113th Congress

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said forestry issues will be among his top priorities when he becomes chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee next Congress, including bills to accelerate restoration logging in Oregon and other parts of the West.

Wyden, who once described the Beaver State as the “Saudi Arabia of biomass,” is seen as more supportive of “place-based” forestry bills than current committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), who is retiring at the end of this month after 30 years in the Senate.

Wyden said he will push hard for bills such as his S. 220, which would promote active management on 8.3 million acres of forests east of the Cascades, and that he would consider similar bills such as a proposal by Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) to accelerate forest restoration and designate wilderness in western Montana.

Wyden said he discussed forestry issues with Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the committee’s ranking member, during a recent trip to Alaska, which, like Oregon, saw timber harvests plummet over the past decades as a result of protections for old-growth trees and the species they support.

“I think there are a lot of opportunities to find common ground on forestry,” Wyden said in a brief interview last week. “I think there is a chance to possibly build a coalition between these hard-hit rural communities that are worried about becoming ghost towns and get them off what I really call their own version of a fiscal cliff.”

As chairman, Wyden will have a full slate of forestry issues to tackle, including the expiration of the Secure Rural Schools program, which provides financial aid for timber-dependent counties, a continuing bark-beetle epidemic and increasingly severe wildfires as a result of dry, overstocked forests.

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