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NASF Letter: Waxman/Whitehouse - NASF Comments on Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change (March 1, 2013)

Dear Congressman Waxman and Senator Whitehouse:

We would like to commend the Bicameral Task Force on its efforts to promote practical and cost efficient activities to address the nation’s changing climate.  We  urge the Task Force to recognize the strategic role that our nation’s forests have in contributing to these efforts.  We applaud the United States Forest Service (USFS) on its 2012 research paper, Effects of Climate Variability and Change on Forest Ecosystems: A Comprehensive Science Synthesis for the U.S. Forest Sector.   The report clearly establishes that the ability of forests to provide essential services, such as clean drinking water, outdoor recreation, and quality wildlife habitat, will change as our climate changes, especially as populations grow and demands for these services increase.  Regional research efforts such as the Southern Forest Futures Project (Summary Report, SRS Tech Report 168) indicate similar trends and consequences.    The most rapidly visible and significant short-term effects will be caused by wildfire, insects, invasive species, and combinations of multiple stressors, often occurring with increased frequency and severity.  

Yet, forests are adaptable, and can play a positive role in mitigating the impacts of a changing climate, while providing sustainable jobs in rural communities and benefits to all of our nation’s citizens.   We have attached for your consideration a policy statement, NASF Adaptation and Mitigation: Concepts for Forest-Climate Adaptation and Mitigation Legislation and Administrative Policy, developed and approved by National Association of State Foresters, and would like to highlight some immediate "targets of opportunity" for the Task Force to consider.   The existing authorities of the USFS State and Private Forestry program with the support of NASF, are well positioned to enhance and accelerate many of the existing adaption and mitigation strategies for the non-federal lands of our nation.   

The attached policy statement references the “State Assessments and Resource Strategies” (now referred to as Forest Action Plans) that were authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill. These plans have already identified and described forest-climate impacts, vulnerabilities, opportunities and priorities for adaptation/mitigation intervention.  The Forest Action Plans also underscore the utility of existing authorities and programs to address many climate-related issues, and the significant role of state forestry agencies in achieving such objectives.  

Below are some specific recommendations for the Task Force to consider:  

  • Improve the Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) Program to achieve timely monitoring, evaluation and reporting on climate impacts for all states including potential for “early detection or indicator forest sites”.
  • Utilize the Forest Stewardship Program (FSP) to include a featured component for implementing “forest-climate adaptation management practices”. The FSP would provide the administrative framework for providing technical assistance and developing implementation plans for non-industrial private forest landowners to install such practices.
  • Enhance and expand wildfire protection capabilities provided by the State Fire Assistance Program to address consequences of climate change.
  • Provide expanded or project-specific funding for Urban and Community Forestry Program grants to assist communities in growth-management strategies and other measures that accomplish high priority adaptation and mitigation projects
  • Expand cost-share and incentives to promote adoption of adaptation management practices designed to help make forests more resilient to the effects of climate change. Consider allocating dedicated funding for forest-climate adaptation management practices from existing programs such as Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Conservation Reserve Program, Conservation Security Program, Conservation Innovation Payments, Cooperative Conservation Partnerships, Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program and other appropriate sources.
  • Expand the purposes and provide adequate funding for the Forest Products Marketing Program (Sec 2112-Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act) to advance the role of durable wood products in national carbon sequestration strategies
  • Facilitate the transfer of climate-adaptation research to on-ground application through focused technology centers such as the U.S. Forest Service Eastern and Western Forest Threats Centers
  • Promote the use of wood as a strategy for storing Carbon by recognizing green building rating systems that recognize wood’s proven credentials as a green building material.

The National Association of State Foresters thanks the Task Force for their consideration of these recommendations and stands ready to assist in the Task Force in any way possible.   Please contact Jake Donnay at jdonnay@stateforesters.org for any follow up questions or clarifications.  

Sincerely,

C. Randy Dye

NASF President

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