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Walden to Hold Resources Subcommittee Hearing in Sisters on Forest Restoration and Rehabilitation 

Forests and Forest Health Subcommittee to receive testimony on importance of post-catastrophic fire management for environment, economy 

WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR), chairman of the House Resources Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health and co-author of the historic Healthy Forest Restoration Act, announced that he will hold a field hearing in Sisters, Oregon to discuss the importance of restoration and rehabilitation of forestlands damaged by catastrophic events, most notably catastrophic wildfire, to both the ecology and economy of an afflicted region.  Titled “In the Aftermath of Catastrophic Event: Restoring and Protecting Communities, Water, Wildlife and Forests,” the hearing is open to the public and will be held on Wednesday, August 18 at 1:30 p.m. at Sisters High School, 1700 West McKinney Butte Road. 

"I wanted to hold this hearing in central Oregon using the charred remains of the B&B fire as a backdrop for our discussion because it is a perfect example of how destructive catastrophic fire can be to a region's environmental and economic health,” said Walden.  “Central Oregonians are all too familiar with the high price our forests, watersheds, airsheds, communities and economies pay when catastrophic fire strikes. While we're using the benefits provided in the Healthy Forests Restoration Act to reduce the threat of these devastating fires from occurring in the first place, it is also critical that we act quickly to repair the damage when they do occur.  That is why my subcommittee is doing all it can to provide our forestland managers with the tools necessary to proactively restore habitat, reduce fuel loads for future fires and revitalize broken economies in affected regions." 

After burning nearly 91,000 one year ago, the B&B Complex Fire is now at an important juncture in its recovery.  The project area for restoration includes 40,000 acres that are located outside of wilderness.  The general goals are to protect and restore forest ecosystems, recover economic value of timber, protect and restore watershed conditions and fishery habitat, and reduce the threat of future high severity wildfires.    

“There is a great deal of restoration work to do throughout Oregon when it comes to burn areas,” continued Walden.  “I look forward to a field hearing that will provide valuable information from experts as to how we can get that work done more efficiently and productively.”  

The Subcommittee has invited expert witnesses to testify at the hearing representing officials from the local area, Oregon State University's College of Forestry, the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon, the U.S. Forest Service and others. In addition, the general public has the opportunity to submit written testimony for the official record to Ryan Yates, subcommittee clerk, by September 1, 2004 via email: ryan.yates@mail.house.gov or fax: (202) 225-0521.

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.