Washington, D.C. – By a vote of 243 to 182, the U.S. House approved a bill today to speed up salvage logging of burned forests and the planting of new trees after storms and wildfires. Rep. Barbara Cubin (R-WY) was among the bill's supporters. The measure demands that federal land hit by disasters greater than 1,000 acres be restored within months, rather than years.
The bill now heads to the Senate, where Oregon Republican Gordon Smith has proposed a similar measure.
The measure's co-sponsor in the House, Washington Democrat Brian Baird, called it a common-sense plan "that will be good for the environment and the economy as well." But most Democrats opposed the bill, arguing that cutting large old trees and planting new ones results in forests that are more vulnerable to new fires and less valuable as habitat for fish and wildlife. They say it is better to allow forests to come back on their own. Forty-one Democrats joined 202 Republicans in supporting the
bill. Opponents also criticized the bill's name, the Forest Emergency
Recovery and Research Act.