For Immediate Release:

March 10, 2004

Renzi Welcomes Future Funding for Forest Health Projects


(Washington, DC) – During Congressional hearings in the House Resources Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health today, Congressman Rick Renzi discussed the state of forest health in rural Arizona and federal funding levels for U.S. Forest Service fuels treatment and management projects. U.S. Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth and Department of Agriculture Undersecretary for the Environment and Natural Resources Mark Rey testified before the committee.

Congressman Renzi opened up questioning during the hearing regarding the available funding for hazardous fuels reduction programs, asking for, "…confirmation that the amount allocated would be adequate to complete important fuels reduction projects." Undersecretary Rey verified that there will be enough money to meet all NEPA ready projects in 2005.

Congressman Renzi commended the President’s FY 2005 budget request and stressed the need for increased cooperation with local industry to complete badly needed forest management projects. Renzi said, "This Congress and the Bush Administration are making positive steps toward reducing the threat of wildfire in our rural communities. However, we can not place the burden solely on the taxpayer. Through coordination with officials from state and local agencies and together with investment from the Timber industry, we can work to simultaneously preserve and protect our forests while creating new jobs for Arizonans and additional sources of revenue in our rural economies."

The President’s FY2005 budget proposal requests the full $760 million called for in the Healthy Forests Restoration Act signed into law in December of last year. Under this new law, the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management plan to treat 4 million acres of high-risk forestlands this year, an increase of 1.3 million acres over the 2003 levels.

Renzi continued, "To those who point only to increased federal funding as the solution for our forests play politics with these vital issues. Federal Funding is there, although cooperation with private industry should be emphasized. Any discussion about a solution for our unhealthy forests that does not include responsible participation by the Timber industry provides an unbalanced approach."