Merkley, Wyden Announce Expanded Collaborative Forest Investment Included in 2018 Farm Bill

Merkley, Wyden Announce Expanded Collaborative Forest Investment Included in 2018 Farm Bill

Final Farm Bill doubles the program’s funding to $80 million per year, with a five-year authorization

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden today announced that the 2018 Farm Bill 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,” 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. Doubling the size of this program will double its positive impacts.”

“Collaboration at the local, state, and federal level is essential to responsible and effective forest management,” Wyden said. “As the West continues to be devastated by massive wildfires, this win provides rural communities across Oregon the additional support they need to improve the health of our forests and protect local jobs.”

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.

The next step for the conferenced bill is to be passed by the full Senate and House of Representatives, and then be signed into law by the president.

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