The Forest Committee of the DPO Environmental Caucus had a Zoom meeting a while back with Senator Merkley’s staff. Sen Merkley is the Chair of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that funds the U.S. Department of Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Forest Service
The Forest Committee discussed funding needs for forest management, especially creating defensible space around homes. The committee also asked the Senator to declare his position on the protection of old-growth forests. One of his staff members provided the following statement on Senator Merkley’s positions, which will be submitted to ODF as public comment for Oregon’s Climate Change & Carbon Plan (CCCP).
- The Senator strongly supports protecting old-growth forests, which are critical carbon sinks and wildlife habitats. He has consistently fought against attempts to grant exemptions to NEPA and other environmental laws.
- The endless cycle of catastrophic wildfire is perhaps the greatest threat to the health of our forests and wildlife, as well as to communities. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to forest management, but strategic thinning and prescribed fire are important tools to reversing this dangerous trend. Finding ways to incentivize innovative wood products offers a pathway to getting more of this work done, while also providing an alternative source of building materials to concrete and steel—whose manufacturing produces a massive amount of carbon emissions—and creating jobs in new industries.
- The Senator has championed the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program because some of these tough questions about how to manage our forests are best answered by stakeholders on the ground. We’ve had great success here in Oregon with getting stakeholders with really different perspectives to the table to create forest management plans that support ecosystems, sustainability, and industry.
- As the new Chairman of Senate Appropriations Committee that funds the Department of Interior, the Senator is working to find ways to strengthen our land management agencies so they can manage our forests and other public lands in ways that better reflect the range of values we place in our forests
You can find the draft of the CCCP and more information here.
You can help by submitting CCCP comments and questions to ODF with the submission form available here.
To be assured consideration, comments must be received by Wednesday, June 30, 2021.