Farm Bill Removes Checks and Balances to National Forests

National Forest Legislation in 2018 HR 2 - The Farm Bill

Please call Congressional Representative Trey Hollingsworth’s Legislative Aid Alec Zender who handles agriculture matters ‭(202) 225-5315‬‭ before May 16th. Alec can also be reached by email at: alec.zender@mail.house.gov

Ask Representative Hollingsworth to OPPOSE H.R. 2 also known as the Farm Bill and include his rejection of any attempts to undermine environmental safeguards on America’s national forests in any public statements or remarks explaining his opposition to the bill.

It threatens the Hoosier National Forest (HNF) and Lake Monroe by removing safeguards built into the current HNF management plan.

Here are some of the reasons why:

1. Threatens the Hoosier National Forest (HNF) 

Ignoring that compromise, H.R. 2 would double the size of the just-conceded exemptions under NEPA to allow logging of up to 6,000-acres — almost 10 square miles for each single project — without review and disclosure of potential harms. The bill adds numerous new 6,000-acre exemptions. This partisan bill also goes further than the omnibus deal on the Endangered Species Act, allowing federal land management agencies to “self-consult” on whether their actions would harm threatened and endangered species even though such self-consultation has already been declared unlawful by the courts. Additionally, it attacks the landmark Roadless Rule, makes resource management and forest stewardship dependent on logging revenue, creating a perverse incentive, and jeopardizes fire-vulnerable communities by deprioritizing hazardous fuels reduction efforts.

The Hoosier National Forest is smaller (204,000 acres) and more fragmented than most other national forests.  As a result, the HNF shares approximately 1,400 miles of boundaries with surrounding property owners, making public input opportunities in management activities such as road building, timber harvests and salvage logging important to many local residents.

2. Threatens Lake Monroe

Lake Monroe is the water supply for 120,000+ people in Monroe and Brown Counties. The current management plan for the HNF allows for reasonable timber removal, but safeguards sensitive areas. The ability to log up to 6,000 acres without public input would jeopardize areas like the South Fork of Salt Creek that feed the Lake. Soil erosion not only contributes to sedimentation, but results in a buildup of organics which cause water treatment and algal growth problems.

3. Removes Bedrock Protections

The legislation is replete with provisions that undermine bedrock environmental laws, including the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Endangered Species Act (ESA), and Roadless Area Conservation Rule (Roadless Rule). This bill consistently prioritizes the logging industry over all other forest stakeholders. It would cause irreparable harm to our federal forests, the millions of Americans who depend on them for clean drinking water, subsistence, recreation, and economic benefit, and the wildlife that call them home.

4. Contrary to What Was Agreed to in the Recent Omnibus Bill

The federal forest provisions in the Farm Bill also run contrary to the wildfire funding agreement reached only weeks ago in the Fiscal Year 2018 Omnibus. A deal was only reached after significant environmental concessions to pro-logging hardliners, even though a comprehensive wildfire funding solution had solid bi-partisan support in both chambers going into the omnibus negotiation.

5. Creates Problems for the Farm Bill

The harmful federal forest proposals in this legislation solve no problem; they only add controversy to the Farm Bill and weaken its chances of becoming law.

Vote to Oppose Federal Forest Provisions

For all of these reasons we strongly urge Representative Hollingsworth to OPPOSE the federal forest provisions in the Farm Bill and any amendments that further undermine environmental safeguards on our federal forests.