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Senators Urge President Not to Reduce Timber Harvests in Budget

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) recently led a bipartisan coalition in sending a letter warning President Obama against reducing timber sales on U.S. Forest Service lands.

The Forest Service’s budget proposal for 2014 calls for cutting timber sales by 15 percent. The reduction threatens jobs in rural communities and is inconsistent with the agency’s forest restoration goals.                                                                                                                                 

“At a time when we need to be increasing timber harvest, the administration’s blueprint sets us even further back,” the senators wrote. “The cuts would have serious consequences for counties and businesses in our states and across the country. We urge you to reconsider proposed cuts in timber sales and instead find new ways to boost timber supply in a responsible manner.”

The senators noted that in addition to boosting the market’s timber supply and creating jobs, increasing timber harvests would help mitigate wildfires. Dead trees combined with historic drought burned 9.3 million acres nationwide in 2012.

Also signing the letter were Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), and Mark Udall (D-Colo.).

The senators’ bipartisan letter to President Obama is available below and online HERE.

May 2, 2013

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We write today regarding the Forest Service’s Fiscal Year 2014 proposal to cut timber sale targets by 15 percent.  We respectfully urge you to work with the Forest Service to reconsider proposed cuts in timber sales and instead find innovative new ways to boost timber supply in a responsible manner.  It is troubling that at a time when we need to increase timber harvest to meet hazardous fuel reduction needs and increase overall market supply, the Administration’s blueprint for the next year sets us even further back. 

We understand the difficult fiscal constraints under which the Administration and Forest Service are operating, but the cuts proposed in the Administration’s budget request would have serious consequences for counties and businesses in our states and across the country.  Increased timber harvest will create jobs in our forests and help mitigate the raging wildfires that are becoming all too commonplace in the west.

Along with other colleagues we expressed our strong bipartisan support for the Forest Service meeting or exceeding its three billion board-feet per year restoration agenda.  The agency’s proposed cut is inconsistent with assurances we have previously heard from the Forest Service and would leave the Forest Service hundreds of millions of board feet short of the restoration agenda’s plan. 

We appreciate your attention to this important matter and stand ready to work with you to improve the responsible management of the United States’ forests.             

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