Forest Emergency Recovery and Research Act Expedites Cleanup, Removal, Restoration
(Washington, D.C.) Congresswoman Cathy McMorris (WA 05) today joined nearly 100 members of the U.S. House of Representatives in sponsoring the Forest Emergency Recovery and Research Act (FERRA) that would expedite the cleanup and restoration of federal forests after catastrophic events such as wildfires, hurricanes and windstorms.
“Our forests, and the resulting timber, play an extremely important role in the economy of the Pacific Northwest,” said McMorris. “Maintaining healthy forests is essential to those who make a living from the land and for those of us who use them for recreational purposes. Eastern Washington has experienced a number of deadly forest fires this season, and it is crucial that we have bipartisan legislation that will expedite the research and restoration process.”
FERRA (H.R. 4200) is modeled after the Healthy Forest Restoration Act, which provides expedited procedures to protect communities from wildfires. Its introduction comes after nearly two years of hearings by the Forests and Forest Health Subcommittee of the House Resources Committee that focused on problems plaguing the nation’s forests after catastrophic events. In August the Subcommittee Chairman, Greg Walden (R-OR) held a hearing in Colville on issues affecting forest health management in the Pacific Northwest.
FERRA provides tools and authorities to federal land managers for the rapid assessment of damage in forestlands following catastrophic events. If swift restoration work is necessary to restore the health of our nation’s forests, expedited – but thorough – environmental review of proposed actions would be performed by the agencies, including full public notice and participation. Land managers would then be able to engage in active management practices relating to the dead and dying timber left in forests, restoring landscapes, removing excess fuel loads, improving water and air quality, and preventing additional reforestation backlog, estimated in a May 2005 Government Accountability Office report at one million acres.