January 13, 2004

Wyden to President: Fully Fund Healthy Forests

Letter to Bush requests $760 million for hazardous fuels reduction projects

Washington, DC - U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) today urged President Bush to fully fund the Healthy Forest Restoration Act's hazardous fuels reduction efforts in the Administration's budget for the coming year. In a letter to the president, Wyden, and U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), requested that the president's FY 2005 budget include the full $760 million authorized for hazardous fuels reduction under the Healthy Forests Restoration Act. Wyden and Feinstein negotiated the Senate compromise upon which the final legislation was based, clearing the way for the bill's passage and its signature by the president in December. NOTE: The complete text of the letter follows. # # # January 13, 2004 The Honorable George W. Bush President of the United States The White House Washington, D.C. 20500 Dear Mr. President: As you know, we have worked very hard for the past two years to achieve common ground on fire and forest health problems faced by our national forests. The legislation that we enacted together in a bipartisan fashion at the end of 2003 could protect thousands of communities and many millions of acres of forest land, but the effectiveness of that law will depend largely on achieving the necessary level of funding to address countless threats to communities and forests across the country. The Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003 (Public Law 108-148), which you signed into law one month ago, authorizes $760,000,000 for each fiscal year to carry out hazardous fuels reduction projects. This amount reflects data collected by the National Association of State Foresters based on the funding level necessary to treat all the at-risk federal lands in the U.S. One of the most important actions you can take as President to promote the success of the first forest management legislation to be enacted in over a quarter century would be to include this level of funding in your Forest Service and Department of Interior FY 2005 budget. We were very appreciative of the active participation of your administration in the negotiations with the House and Senate that produced the forests bill. Including full funding of the $760,000,000 you agreed to in those negotiations would be the single most decisive step you could take to ensure broad support for the new law and its successful implementation. Again, we ask that you include $760,000,000 in the Forest Service and Department of Interior budget for hazardous fuel reduction projects, and that you do so without diminishing other important Forest Service or Department of Interior accounts. Please let us know if you have any questions regarding this request. Sincerely, Ron Wyden U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein U.S. Senator Patty Murray U.S. Senator Tim Johnson U.S. Senator