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Bill to help restore forests
ENTERPRISE — The Farm Bill passed this winter by Congress allows for increased restoration on national forest land in areas affected and projected to be affected by insects and disease over the next 20 years.
Lindsay Warness of Boise Cascade in La Grande said, “We’re cautiously optimistic. In the letter Gov. Kitzhaber sent to Sec. Vilsack he stressed the on-going collaboration work in addition to the need for landscape projects.”
Warness said the designation expedites restoration using the Healthy Forest Restoration Act of 2003, which allows the U.S. Forest Service authority outside of wildland urban interfaces in the northern half of the Wallowa-Whitman and Umatilla national forests. She said the Farm Bill is helpful in that it provides language on the benefits of restoration to local communities. “Basically what it does is if a project is litigated, a judge is required to look at the balance of harms, instead of individual claims.
Within designated restoration areas the bill allows up to 3,000 acres to be set aside in what is known as a categorical exclusion. Warness said this authority allows expedited projects where there is no negative environmental impact on the ground. “The Farm Bill exempted the appeals process.”
For the full story, see Monday's edition of The Observer.