RECAP: McMorris Rodgers Hosts Ranking Member Bruce Westerman in Eastern Washington

Aug 31, 2022

Spokane, Wash. – Last week, Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) welcomed Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (AR-04) to Newport, Usk, and Colville to show how Eastern Washington’s innovative conservation efforts and proactive forest management strategies are unleashing economic opportunities for rural communities. 

“I’m grateful Ranking Member Westerman was able to join me in the Pacific Northwest,” said Rodgers. “We took a trip to Colville National Forest, where local collaboration and proactive forest management will help prevent wildfires, restore forest health, improve wildlife habitat, and support the economic revitalization of our rural communities. We also spent time with tribal leaders to gain more understanding and continue our work to achieve common natural resource priorities. I’m encouraged to have had the opportunity to show my colleague all the ways Eastern Washington is leading the way, and I look forward to our continued partnership.”

The following are highlights from their trip.

Meeting with the Kalispel Tribe

Cathy began Ranking Member Bruce Westerman’s trip to Eastern Washington at the Indian Creek Community Forest to meet with representatives of the Kalispel Tribe. The lawmakers were joined by Vice Chairman and Manager of Public and Government Affairs Curt Holmes, Information and Outreach Coordinator Mike Lithgow, and Public Relations Coordinator Afton Servas to discuss some of the Kalispel Tribe’s conservation and energy priorities and how they can collectively work together to achieve their shared goals.

Highlighting Sustainable Forest Management

Next, Cathy and Ranking Member Westeman made the trip up to Colville to meet with the Vaagen Bros., Boise Cascade, and Columbia Cedar Mill to discuss their important forest management efforts that exemplify how local collaboration and proactive forest management can lead to economic success for rural communities everywhere.

Visiting Vaagen Timbers

Later, Cathy brought Ranking Member Westerman to Vaagen Timbers where they met with President Russ Vaagen, Vice President of Sales Spencer Bishop, Director of Manufacturing Operations Mike Carter, Human Resources Manager Greg Knight, and Government Affairs for American Forest Resource Council (AFRC) Heath Heikkila. At the facility, Cathy had the opportunity to show the Congressman how Vaagen Timbers is leading the way on promoting healthier forests and sustainable building materials with their innovative cross laminated timber products.

Exploring Colville National Forest

Cathy and Ranking Member Westerman wrapped up their trip by venturing into the Colville National Forest. A decade ago, Cathy helped create the A-to-Z Project to unleash a public-private partnership to proactively manage and improve the health of forests in the region. Now, Colville National Forest is one of the most productive national forests in the country, and the A-to-Z Project has made Eastern Washington a leader in forest management.

The lawmakers were met by CEO of Vaagen Brothers Lumber Duane Vaagen, Timber Manager for Vaagen Brothers Lumber Josh Anderson, Colville National Forest Supervisor Rodney Smolden, Colville National Forest Deputy Supervisor Josh White, and Government Affairs for AFRC Heath Heikkila.


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