Politicians Form Forestry Caucus

One of the first realizations to strike U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., when he took office earlier this year, was that Congress had caucuses to address issues from health care to the Internet, but none for healthy forests.

That is now changed.

Schrader and Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., last week announced the formation of a Congressional Healthy Forest Caucus. The caucus is designed to advocate for forest policies that recognize the important role forestlands can play in providing solutions to environmental problems while helping the nation's economic recovery.

"Our forests can be managed in an environmentally friendly way while also producing jobs and creating opportunities for renewable energy sources such as biomass and reducing carbon emissions through sequestration," Schrader said. "Too often these potential benefits are overlooked when drafting forest policy."

Schrader and Walden announced they will co-chair the caucus.

"This caucus will serve as an educational resource for members from both parties who want to do the right thing for the environment and America's rural forested communities," Walden said.

The caucus formation comes on the heels of a last-minute inclusion of federal forest biomass in the American Clean Energy and Security Act that recently cleared the House. In the inclusion advocated by Northwest representatives, biomass from federal forests can be used to meet renewable energy and fuel standards.

Schrader and Rep. Brian Baird, D-Wash., in a press release announcing the inclusion, said thousands of jobs will be created or saved thanks to the provision.

Biomass from private forests is not included in the act.