Dear Chairman Simpson and Ranking Member Moran:
On behalf of the American people, lawmakers have committed to embracing fiscal responsibility- ensuring that tax dollars are spent efficiently and effectively. We fully acknowledge and appreciate that a major component of fiscal responsibility must involve reducing federal spending by eliminating unnecessary, duplicative, and wasteful programs. However, the commitment to the American people must also include making smart investments in programs that provide significant benefits to the health of our economy and our environment.
The USDA Forest Service (USFS) Forest Health Management Program has provided critical assistance to other federal agencies, state agencies, local agencies and private landowners in their efforts to protect and improve the health of American's rural and urban forests. As the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee considers the Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 budget for USFS, the undersigned organizations urge you to maintain funding for the Forest Health Management Program at FY 2012 enacted levels of $112 million. In addition, we ask you to support research for forest invasive species within the Forest Service Research Program.
Our nation's forests and trees, much like other critical infrastructure, provide numerous benefits. Across both rural and urban landscapes, forests and trees play an important role in the health of our environment and our economy-providing clean air and water, wildlife habitat, enhanced property values, renewable energy sources, and carbon sequestration. Furthermore, healthy and sustainable forests drive state and local economies by supporting jobs related to forest products, recreation, and tourism. The forests products industry, in particular, employs nearly one million people, often in rural communities where good-paying jobs are scarce. In Idaho and Virginia alone, the forest products industry directly employs nearly 10,000 and 28,000 people, respectively. Wood and paper production ranks in the top 10 manufacturing sectors in both states and generates billions in shipments of important wood and paper products annually.
The importance of the continued health and vitality of our urban and rural forests cannot be overstated; unfortunately, neither can the severity of the threats they currently face. Across the nation, significant threats to urban and rural forests include pests and pathogens, particularly invasive species. The ability of trees and forests to continue to provide important environmental and socioeconomic benefits is being threatened by damaging invasive species that are arriving and spreading at an increasing rate- destroying habitat and creating voids in cities and towns once populated by thriving forests and trees. The USFS Forest Health Management Program is a critical resource supporting efforts to prevent, contain, and eradicate dangerous pests and pathogens affecting trees and forests. In FY 2011, the Program helped combat native and invasive pests on over 450,000 acres of Federal lands and over 766,000 acres of Cooperative lands. While these numbers represent a vital component of our efforts to protect the nation's forests and trees, they also represent the real consequences of reductions in funding-with nearly 50,000 fewer acres treated on Cooperative lands in FY 2011 (as compared to acres treated in FY10). Any further cuts to this program will necessitate deeper reductions in support for communities already facing outbreaks and expose more of the nation's forests and trees to the devastating and costly effects of the Asian Longhorned Beetle, Emerald Ash Borer, Hemlock Wooly Adelgid, Thousand Cankers Disease, Western Bark Beetle and other deadly pests.
The USFS Research and Development Program provides the science to help manage invasive species in urban and rural forests. We consider it vitally important to conduct research aimed at improving detection and control methods for the Emerald Ash Borer, Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, Sudden Oak Death, Thousand Cankers Disease, Gold-spotted Oak Borer and other non-native forests pests and diseases. We ask your support to direct Forest Service research funding targeted at improving detection and control of these deadly pests and diseases.
In a time when America's forests and trees faces significant threats regarding their present and longterm health, USFS must be provided with adequate funds to support this key program. Accordingly, we urge you to maintain current funding levels as you consider FY13 appropriations for the USFS. We would be pleased to answer any questions you may have. Thank you for your time and consideration of this important request.
Alliance for Community Trees
Alliance for Green Heat
American Chestnut Foundation
American Forest and Paper Association
American Forest Foundation
American Public Gardens Association
American Public Works Association
American Phytopathological Society
American Society of Consulting Arborists
American Society of Landscape Architects
Arbor Day Foundation
Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies
Biomass Thermal Energy Council
California Agricultural Commissioners and Sealers Association
Environmental and Energy Study Institute
Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund's Rural Training and Research Center
Forestland Group LLC
Forest Landowners Association
Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment
Greenspace-The Cambria Land Trust
International Maple Syrup Institute
International Society of Arboriculture
Kentucky Forest Industries Association
Keep America Beautiful
National Alliance of Forest Owners
National Association of Conservation Districts
National Association of Forest Service Retirees
National Association of State Foresters
National Association of University Forest Resource Programs
Natural Hazard Mitigation Association, Inc.
National Plant Board
National Woodland Owners Association
North American Maple Syrup Council
Ohio Forestry Association
Oregon Invasive Species Council
Salmon Valley Stewardship
SBS Wood Shavings
Society of American Foresters
The Nature Conservancy
Tree Care Industry Association
Tuskegee Volunteer Power Corporation
Utility Arborist Association
Watershed Research and Training Center