WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Oregon Forest Industries Council (OFIC) and National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO) today thanked the Oregon Congressional delegation for securing a provision in the Farm Bill enabling Oregon forests to continue providing environmental and social benefits, including family-waged jobs in rural Oregon.
The U.S. Senate today passed The Agricultural Act of 2014 (the Farm Bill) by a vote of 68-32 following passage by the U.S. House of Representatives on January 29 by 251-166. The bill includes a provision preserving the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) treatment of forest roads and forest management as nonpoint sources subject to state-derived Best Management Practices (BMPs) under the federal Clean Water Act (CWA).
“We thank the Oregon delegation for securing a forest roads provision in the Farm Bill that recognizes the important role of states in maintaining water quality,” said Dave Tenny, NAFO President and CEO. “Through this legislation the EPA can and should continue to use state Best Management Practices for forest roads and forest management under the Clean Water Act as it has successfully done for the past 38 years.”
“Oregon has years of research on paired watershed studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of contemporary forest practices. We thank our supporters in the Oregon delegation for leading the effort to pass this common-sense measure that protects water quality, benefits 22 million forestland owners across the country and supports 2.4 million jobs nationally including more than 76,000 in Oregon,” said Kristina McNitt, President of OFIC.
OFIC and NAFO commended Senator Ron Wyden and Representatives Greg Walden and Kurt Schrader for sponsoring legislation that was the basis of the Farm Bill provision, and Representative Suzanne Bonamici for her support of the provision. All played key roles in securing its placement in the Farm Bill.
Oregon forest landowners further applauded the delegation members:
“The Oregon delegation has demonstrated leadership and tireless efforts on behalf of all Oregonians to find a common sense resolve on regulating forest roads which will help ensure jobs in rural America as the wood products industry recovers from an uncertain economy,” said Joe Gonyea III, CEO and Partner, Timber Products Company.
“Our state delegation demonstrated the type of courageous leadership and thoughtful vision we need in Washington, DC to strike an important balance between protecting the environmental values of our forests and our rural communities whose health depends on them,” said Andrew Miller, President and CEO, Stimson Lumber Company.
“We thank the supporters for their leadership in seeing that small and family forest owners continue to keep our rural economy strong and healthy through this important provision in the Farm Bill,” said Dan Giustina, Managing General Partner, Giustina Resources.
OFIC and NAFO also acknowledged several other provisions in the Farm Bill that strengthen the benefits provided by privately owned forests, including:
- Improvements to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Biobased Markets Program and a strengthened commitment to expanding prospects for wood in green building markets;
- Improved access to conservation resources, particularly the Conservation Stewardship Program, which rewards landowners for taking the ‘next step’ in conservation; and
- Strong support for programs that combat forest invasive pests and pathogens.
“We applaud Congress for inclusion of these pro-forestry provisions in the bill,” Tenny said. “Promoting healthy forests and strong markets for forest products encourages landowners to keep working forests intact, providing clean air and water, recreation and jobs for our recovering economy.”
The Oregon Forest Industries Council is a trade association representing industrial forest landowners and manufacturers to maintain a positive, stable business operating environment that encourages long-term investments promoting a reliable timber supply, environmental stewardship and sustainable management practices.
NAFO is an organization representing private forest owners and managers committed to advancing national policies that promote the economic and environmental benefits of privately-owned working forests. NAFO membership encompasses more than 80 million acres of private forestland in 47 states, and working forests in the U.S. support 2.4 million jobs. NAFO seeks common sense policy solutions to sustain the ecological, economic and social values of forests and to assure an abundance of healthy and productive forest resources for present and future generations.