This week, a bipartisan group of senators announced the introduction of legislation that would help protect forests.
The legislation led by senators Jeff Merkley and Mike Crapo would reauthorize and expand the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP).
According to the press release issued by Senator Merkley, this program would help fund collaborative and community-based forest management. This would mean engaging with stakeholders to protect and improve forest health, reduce wildfire risk, and support rural communities.
As per recent findings of CFLRP, 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 an average, CFLRP creates or maintains 5,400 jobs each year at current funding levels.
This bipartisan legislation would extend the program through 2029 and expand its reach by doubling authorized funding from $40 million to $80 million per year.
The legislation is co-sponsored by senators Ron Wyden, Jim Risch, Michael Bennet, Cory Gardner, Tom Udall, and Jon Tester.
In 2016, a white paper titled, Branching Out: Engaging Forest Stakeholders through Collaborative Design, shed light on the importance of a collaborative effort to preserve forests. According to the findings of the research, several stakeholders said that acting collectively via a collaborative platform works better at accomplishing their individual goals than would acting independently.
In view of this, Senator Merkley pointed out that collaborative strategies to manage the forests in the country have proven to be a win on many levels, as this has solved issues and created better timber stands, better ecosystems, and better fire resistance. This collaborative effort has also resulted in the creation of more jobs, he said.
Citing an example of Deschutes National Forest, Merkley said, “I’ve seen firsthand the valuable progress that happens when the community works together to manage our forests for the good of everyone. It is better for everyone when our resources go towards job creation and wildfire prevention, not lawsuits.”
Kameran Onley, The Nature Conservancy’s director of U.S. Government Relations, said that the bipartisan bill will go a long way in protecting the environment.