Poor land management during the past 30 years has led to declining health of national forests. This has resulted in fewer jobs and productivity in the forestry sector, fewer board feet of domestically produced lumber entering the market, and a marked increase in acreage ravaged by insects, disease and fire.
Significant concerns have been raised about the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management's forest management efforts, both in terms of administrative obstacles (e.g., cumbersome planning processes, high costs and analysis paralysis), and legal obstacles to approving projects.
The U.S. Forest Service manages over 190 million acres. Of this, 46 million acres is designated as allowable for timber harvest. Timber harvests from federal forests declined by 78 percent between 1987 and 2015, from 11.3 to 2.5 billion board feet. This is far below the long-term, sustainable capability of these lands of 12.2 billion board feet per year.
H.R. 2936 addresses the growing economic and environmental threats of catastrophic wildfire. The bill streamlines onerous environmental review processes to get work done on the ground quickly, without sacrificing environmental protection. In addition, the legislation minimizes the threat of frivolous litigation by providing alternatives to resolve legal challenges against forest management activities.