Rim Fire Prompts Calls For Opening National Forests To Logging

TUOLUMNE COUNTY (CBS13) — After the devastation of one of California’s largest wildfires, a potential plan is brewing to thin trees in national forests.

Republicans like Rep. Tom McClintock have a plan to thin out national forests and want to open up logging to areas that have already burned.

“For years foresters have been warning us that all of that excess timber is going to come out of the forest one way or the other. It will be carried out or burned out,” McClintock said.

Since the federal government cut off contracts to loggers and sawmills, California lumber companies have not been able to keep operations running.

“It’s devastating because you may have a community of 3,000 people and 300 of them are working in or related to the saw mill,” said David Bischel with the California Forestry Association.

Since 2000, 27 mills have closed in the state, and four counties have been hit hard watching local lumber companies close their doors.

Bischel says this bill could revive the industry and protect the overgrown forest.

“Taking the smaller trees out and removing them to processing facility in one of these rural communities that make lumber or create renewable biomass energy,” Bischel said.

The bill passed the House, but it is likely to fail in a Democrat-controlled Senate, and President Barack Obama will likely veto it because of environmental-impact concerns.

If it does fail, McClintock plans to introduce a new bill allowing immediate logging of burned forests to help restore jobs to towns hit hard by the loss of federal contracts.

 

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