Merkley, Wyden Announce Expanded Collaborative Forest Investment in the Farm Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden today announced that the 2018 Farm Bill proposed by the Senate doubles the size of the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP) and extends it through 2023. This critical program, which helps fund collaborative and community-based forest management, has a proven track record of improving forest health, reducing wildfire risk, and supporting rural communities.

In May, Merkley and Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) led a bipartisan group of senators in introducing the legislation to continue the collaborative forest program, and to expand its reach by doubling the authorized funding. The legislation was cosponsored by Sens. Wyden, Jim Risch (R-ID), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Tom Udall (D-NM) and Jon Tester (D-MT).

“Collaborative forest management strategies have proven successful on many levels: thinning overgrown forests and creating better timber stands, improving ecosystems, building better fire resistance, and creating more jobs and more saw logs for mills,” Merkley said. “I’ve visited the Deschutes National Forest and been a witness to the valuable progress that is made when communities work together to manage our forests. It’s in everyone’s best interest to direct resources toward job creation and wildfire prevention rather than lawsuits, and that’s why I fought to double the size of this program and double its positive impacts.”

“The Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program plays a critical role for Oregon’s forests so they can generate jobs and remain healthy for decades to come,” Wyden said. “As a senior member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, I know firsthand from town halls and meetings throughout rural Oregon the necessity of collaborating at the local, state, and federal level to encourage sustainable forest management. This additional federal funding will help empower rural communities across Oregon to restore effective forest management and improve the health of our nation’s forests.”

Since its enactment in 2009, CFLRP has a proven track record of success in managing forests to increase forest health, mitigate wildfires, and support rural economies and local voices. CFLRP requires various local stakeholders to collaborate, resulting in stronger relationships on the ground, better projects, and a decreased risk of conflict and litigation.

To date, 23 CFLRP projects in 14 states have sold more than 2.5 billion board feet of timber; created $1.4 billion in local labor income; and improved 760 miles of trails for sports enthusiasts and recreation. On average, CFLRP creates or maintains 5,400 jobs each year at 2014 funding levels — a number that will likely increase with newly expanded funding.

In addition, CFLRP has reduced the risk of megafires on more than 2.9 million acres.

The funding expansion, from $40 million to $80 million per year, is supported by a broad cross-section of the timber industry, rural economic development entities, and environmental organizations, including Sustainable Northwest, Rural Voices for Conservation Coalition, Collins Pine Company, Ochoco Lumber, Vaagen Bros Lumber, Avista, The Wilderness Society, American Forests, Society of American Foresters, Pinchot Institute, Forest Business Network, Blue Mountains Forest Partners, Lake County Resources Initiative, The Forest Stewards Guild, Siuslaw Institute, Wallowa Resources, Northeast Washington Forestry Coalition, The Lands Council, Western Environmental Law Center, Grand Canyon Trust, Mt. Adams Resource Stewards, The Watershed Center, Salmon Valley Stewardship, Western Landowners Alliance, The Coalition for the Upper South Platte, Choose Outdoors, Western Slope Conservation Center, and Western Colorado Progress.