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Monday, March 15, 2004

Walden Ascends to Chairmanship of Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health

Resources Subcommittee responsible for shaping nation’s forestry policies; impact of Walden’s chairmanship on Oregon, Northwest to be extensive

WASHINGTON, DC – The Chairman of the House Committee on Resources today announced that U.S. Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) will assume the chairmanship of the Resources Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health, which is responsible for shaping the nation’s forest policy. Walden’s appointment to the chairmanship of the panel is effective immediately.

"It’s hard to overstate how important forestry policy is to the people of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest," said Walden. "As the representative of a district that includes 11 national forests, few issues are as important to me as ensuring the sound management of America’s forestlands. I was proud to have helped lead the effort to pass the Healthy Forests Restoration Act last year, but much work remains to be done before we can eliminate the combined threats of catastrophic wildfire, insect infestation and disease that face our forests. This position will allow me to influence a number of issues of importance to the Second District, such as finalizing the sale of the Bend Pine Nursery, establishing a forest research center in Prineville, reauthorizing the County School and Roads bill and many other issues within the subcommittee’s jurisdiction."

Walden continued, "I’m grateful to Chairman Pombo and Subcommittee Chairman McInnis for this opportunity, and I look forward to building on the leadership they’ve demonstrated in making historic reforms to our nation’s forestry policy."

Walden has been widely recognized as a leader in Congress on forestry issues. Last year he co-authored the Healthy Forests Restoration Act (HR 1904) with outgoing Forestry Subcommittee Chairman McInnis (R-CO). The Healthy Forests bill, which authorizes expedited treatment of 20 million acres of forestland, is considered the most significant reform to forest management policy in a generation.

Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo (R-CA) praised Walden for his leadership on forestry issues and congratulated him on his new chairmanship.

"While Mr. McInnis will be sorely missed, I can think of no better replacement than the co-author of the Healthy Forests Restoration Act, Congressman Greg Walden," Chairman Pombo said. "His work ethic and expertise in national forests management policy are second to none, as he so clearly demonstrated during the Healthy Forests negotiations. In fact, I do not believe that critical legislation would be law today if I didn't have Greg's help every step of the way. So it is with much gratitude and confidence that I hand the Forest Subcommittee gavel to Congressman Walden. He certainly earned it."

(To view the official letter Chairman Pombo sent to Walden naming him to the chairmanship of the Forestry Subcommittee, click on the following link: http://www.walden.house.gov/issues/healthyforests/chairmanship.pdf.)

Outgoing Subcommittee Chairman McInnis echoed Pombo’s praise of Walden following his elevation to Chairman of the Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health.

"It has been a great honor to serve as the Chairman of the Resources Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health, but as I announced to my constituents in Colorado last week, the time has come for me to begin the transition of coming home. It’s time to pass the torch on, and I cannot think of a better or more qualified member to chair the Forests Subcommittee than my good friend, Greg Walden," said McInnis. "For nearly two years, I worked side-by-side with Greg to create the bipartisan Healthy Forests Restoration Act. Greg served at the forefront of our efforts to get this bill approved by the House of Representatives, and played an instrumental role in crafting the House-Senate compromise on the bill that sent it to the President’s desk. His experience and leadership on forest health issues will be a great asset to the subcommittee and the Congress."

A series of events occurred in the past month to make Walden’s advancement within the subcommittee possible. In mid-February, Walden applied to the Speaker of the House for a special waiver to be allowed to serve on a fifth subcommittee. House rules generally disallow service on more than four subcommittees. House Speaker Dennis Hastert granted Walden the waiver on February 26. Shortly thereafter, Congressman Denny Rehberg (R-MT) left the Forestry Subcommittee to make room for Walden’s appointment. Upon his appointment to the subcommittee, full committee Chairman Richard Pombo installed Walden with his full committee seniority, allowing Walden to immediately move from 10th to 5th in seniority on the panel. Finally, last Friday Subcommittee Chairman Scott McInnis resigned his chairmanship of the subcommittee, which allowed the appointment of Walden as his replacement.

Walden currently serves on the Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power, as well as the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation, the Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality and the Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet.

The Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health has jurisdiction over public forestlands; federal reserved water rights on forest reserves; the Wild and Scenic Rivers System, National Trails System, and national heritage areas; federal and non-federal outdoor recreation plans, programs and administration in public forests; and general oversight and investigative authority over activities, policies and programs within the jurisdiction of the Subcommittee.

Congressman Walden represents the Second Congressional District of Oregon, which includes 20 counties in southern, central and eastern Oregon. He is a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce as well as the Committee on Resources.





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