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FOREST MANAGEMENT

ISSUE: Wildfires in the Western United States have increased in both number

and intensity in recent years. These fires have affected not only those who have

had their homes and loved ones taken by one of these catastrophic incidents, but

also those who work and recreate in the forest. While everyone agrees that these

wildfires are devastating, our Nation’s decision makers continue to implement

restrictions that hinder the ability to mitigate the devastation that these events

cause. AAW is concerned that the new National Forest Plans mandating

protections for old growth forests will make it more difficult to implement critical

forest health projects to protect these stands from wildfire. We believe the Forest

Service should focus its limited resources on increasing forest health treatments

consistent with its 10-year wildfire strategy.


Economically, the Pacific Northwest is seeing a rapid closure of mills due to a

variety of factors, including the lack of raw material actively harvested. This has a

devastating impact on our Nation’s forest product supply, forest sector

infrastructure, forest health, rural economies and national carbon sequestration

and storage goals. The U.S. has a renewable resource in productive timberland

that needs to be managed and cared for so generations to come can continue to

enjoy this amazing resource with so many benefits.


AMERICAN AGRI-WOMEN REQUEST: We urge the Forest Service to follow its

own 10-year Wildfire Crisis Strategy by doubling or tripling the sustainable forest

management treatments on federal land, allowing us to meet the demand for

wood products, increase carbon sequestration and storage, and meet global

climate objectives outlined by the IPCC.


AAW requests that Congress pass a Farm Bill with a strong forestry title,

including provisions to accelerate forest management, reduce wildfire risks,

sustain our remaining sawmills and not pull additional acres of productive

timberland our of production for wilderness and other restrictions.


We urge Congress to include robust public involvement and engagement with

key stakeholders, including tribes, to develop a durable and effective plan to

increase forestry work, improve conservation outcomes and meet the needs of

rural communities, especially in the Pacific Northwest.


AAW also asks the Forest Service to sustainably manage its lands in a manner

that helps meet our needs for carbon friendly wood products, contributes to rural

economies and maintains forest health.


AAW believes it is critical that the Forest Service work to implement forest

treatments that improve forest health and provide a predictable supply of timber

to maintain the forest products infrastructure and support rural economies reliant

on this natural resource.


AAW urges the federal and state agencies to work together with the private

sector to manage our forests efficiently and effectively, including fighting wildfires

before they get out of hand.


BACKGROUND:

The Northwest Forest Plan: The Forest Service recently announced it would

amend the 30-year-old Northwest Forest Plan for national forests in Washington,

Oregon and California and convened a 21-member advisory committee to inform

that process. Public involvement and engagement with key stakeholders is

necessary to develop a plan the will increase forestry work, improve conservation

outcomes and meet the needs of rural communities in the Pacific Northwest.

National Forest Timber Supply: There is broad international and domestic

consensus about the carbon benefits of using more wood products in

construction. In December at COP28 in Dubai, the U.S. and 16 other countries

agreed to increase sustainable forestry and use of wood productions in

construction as “a vital decarbonization strategy.” However, the U.S, currently

imports about 1/3 of its lumber and is now the largest importer of wood products

in the world. The forest service manages about 188 million acres of national

forests, including some of the most productive forests in the Pacific Northwest,

but provides very little supply for our demand for lumber and other wood

products. The Forest Service needs to sustainably manage its land in a manner

that helps meet our need for carbon friendly wood products, contribute to rural

economies and maintain forest health.


Forest Sector Infrastructure: Mills, loggers and other contractors help make forest

health treatments feasible. When we lose this vital infrastructure, it is more

difficult to treat overstocked national forests. Since January, four significant

sawmills have closed in western Oregon, two in western Montana and one in

northern Idaho primarily due to a lack of logs - despite being surrounded by

overstocked federal forests. We anticipate additional mill closures, including

those that transitioned operations to the smaller logs that are likely to come from

federal lands. It is critical that the Forest Service work to implement forest treatments that improve forest health and provide a predictable supply of timber

to maintain the forest products infrastructure.


Mature and Old Growth: The Biden Administration has directed the Forest

Service to amend all 128 National Forest Plans to mandate protections for old

growth forests on federal lands. This effort and new management restrictions will

make it more difficult to implement critical forest health projects to protect these

stands from wildfire, which is the overwhelming primary threat to these older

forests. Anti-forestry activists continually pressure the Administration to extend

these restrictions to all “mature” forests, which would extend to millions of acres

of federal lands. The Forest Service should instead focus its resources on

increasing forest health treatments consistent with its 10-year wildfire strategy,

including utilizing the $6B allocated to the agency from Congress through the

bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act.


Carbon: International climate scientists, including those on the Intergovernmental

Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), agree that actively managing forests, using

wood products, keeping forests as forests and reforesting with young trees

delivers the greatest climate and carbon mitigation benefit over time. By doubling

or tripling sustainable forest management treatments on federal lands, as

prescribed by the Forest Service’s own 10-year Wildfire Crisis Strategy, we can

meet the demand for wood products, increase carbon sequestration and storage

and meet global climate objectives outlined by the IPCC.

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