The National Association of State Foresters thanks lawmakers for their efforts on the 2018 Farm Bill and weighs in on its Forestry Title.
WASHINGTON—The nation’s 59 state and territorial foresters are thankful that Congress has finalized a Forestry Title to be included in the 2018 Farm Bill, but disappointed in the bill’s treatment of the Landscape Scale Restoration (LSR) program.
“State foresters asked for only what we needed in this farm bill, and at the top of our list was LSR,” said Lisa Allen, NASF president and Missouri state forester. “We are happy to see the Timber Innovation Act language included in the report, as well as a few other provisions, but unfortunately, there are several missed opportunities in this Forestry Title that would have helped to improve the health, resiliency, and productivity of America’s forests.”
NASF requested that the USDA Forest Service’s LSR program be codified to help state forestry agencies tackle the nation’s most pressing forest priorities in the most cost-effective, collaborative, and coordinated ways: with guidance from Forest Action Plans.
“State foresters were hopeful that the conference committee would empower land managers to address national priorities identified in state Forest Action Plans through the LSR program,” said Jay Farrell, NASF executive director. “Instead, this bill’s LSR language omits reference to Forest Action Plans, waters down limited funding intended for state and private forestry work, and restricts funding to only those projects that benefit rural lands.”
The 2018 Forestry Title would also:
- Cap the funding authorization for cross-boundary wildfire mitigation at $20 million ($5 million more than the current funding level).
- Reduce the annual funding authorization for hazardous fuel reduction work on federal lands by $100 million (compared to the current level of $760 million annually) from 2019 to 2023.
- Extend authorization of section 602(d)(2) of the Healthy Forests Restoration Act through 2023.
- Increase the maximum sale or conveyance value of eligible small tracts 40 acres or less in size of national forest lands from $150,000 to $500,000.
- Extend Good Neighbor Authority (GNA) to tribes and counties and allow states to retain GNA revenue for future restoration projects.
- Authorize $25 million in annual funding from 2019 through 2023 for the Community Wood Energy and Wood Innovation Program.
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