WASHINGTON, DC, February 4, 2014 – The National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO) today thanked Congress for passing the Farm Bill, noting many forestry provisions included in the legislation that help ensure forests will continue providing environmental and social benefits, including jobs throughout rural America.

The U.S. Senate today passed The Agricultural Act of 2014 by a vote of 68-32 following passage by the U.S. House of Representatives January 29 by 251-166. The bill includes a provision preserving the treatment of forest roads and forest management as nonpoint sources subject to state-derived Best Management Practices (BMPs) under the federal Clean Water Act (CWA).

“We thank Congress for inclusion of the forest roads provision that takes discharge permits and citizen lawsuits off the table,” said Dave Tenny, NAFO President and CEO. “Through this legislation the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can and should continue to use state developed Best Management Practices for forest roads and forest management under the Clean Water Act as it has successfully done for the past 38 years.”

NAFO commended the cosponsors of the Silviculture Regulatory Consistency Act (S. 971; H.R. 2026), Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Mike Crapo (R-ID), and  Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA3) and Kurt Schrader (D-OR5), whose legislation was the basis for the final Farm Bill provision. NAFO also acknowledged the efforts of the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Committees on Agriculture, House and Senate leadership, and many others in Congress for strong bipartisan support of the forest roads provision.

“This is a great outcome for the families, particularly in rural communities, who rely on 2.4 million forestry related jobs throughout the United States,” Tenny said.  "It sends a message that we continue to trust them to do what they have been doing for almost four decades—to be good stewards of their forests and good providers for their families."

NAFO also acknowledged several other provisions in the Farm Bill that strengthen the benefits provided by privately owned forests, including:

  • Stronger market opportunities for forests, specifically with improvements to the Biobased Markets Program and a strengthened commitment to expanding prospects for wood in green building markets, the fastest growing market for wood products;
  • Improved access to conservation resources, particularly the Conservation Stewardship Program, which rewards landowners for taking the ‘next step’ in conservation; and
  • Strong support for programs that combat forest invasive pests and pathogens.

“We applaud Congress for inclusion of these pro-forestry provisions in the bill,” Tenny said. “Promoting healthy forests and strong markets for forest products encourages landowners to keep working forests intact, providing clean air and water, recreation and jobs for our recovering economy."

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