Magazine article American Forests

Washington Outlook

Magazine article American Forests

Washington Outlook

Article excerpt

Some big ideas on land and water conservation have advanced far in Congress this year. Important, albeit lower visibility, ideas on carbon sequestration in forests have also made strides forward. Although legislation is not likely to be passed in either area at this late date, the fact that Congress has given them serious consideration is a promising sign for conservation next year and in the years to come.

As I noted in the last Washington Outlook (Autumn 1999), AMERICAN FORESTS has been urging members of Congress to include support for the Forest Service's Urban and Community Forestry Program and its Forest Legacy Program in legislative proposals that would use revenues from offshore oil receipts to increase funding for conservation programs, including the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

An array of LWCF proposals have been introduced in the House and Senate, many with bipartisan support. Earlier this fall it looked like Congress might take action on proposals sponsored by members in leadership positions. If so, it might have allowed other proposals--or the ideas therein--to be presented as alternatives.

To this strategic end, Sen. Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, ranking minority member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has prepared a set of LWCF proposals as an alternative to ones introduced earlier this year by the committee's chair, Sen. Frank Murkowski of Alaska. Sen. Bingaman's proposals include not only strong support for the Urban and Community Forestry Program ($50 million) and Forest Legacy Program ($50 million), but an additional $50 million for Forest Service Economic Action Programs. The Economic Action Programs help rural communities develop projects that promote ecosystem health and community well-being.

AMERICAN FORESTS sent letters to many of the House and Senate members deliberating the LWCF proposals, urging them to include support for all three Forest Service programs. We believe each is critical to both protect trees and forests and to assist communities in planning and acting to restore and maintain them for the long term.

In another forest-related matter, Senators Ron Wyden of Oregon and Larry Craig of Idaho convened a hearing in the Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Forests and Public Lands to receive comments on the "Forest Resources for the Environment and the Economy Act" (5. …

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