A bold, new way of doing business managing America's natural resources
For far too long, the Pacific Northwest and northern California were deadlocked in an emotional, polarizing debate over how to manage the region's federal forest lands. It was a dilemma that previous administrations failed to address, a problem that President Clinton inherited, and one that he made a priority to solve.
The President pledged to correct the mistakes of the past, put an end to the gridlock, and move the region forward. The President and his administration succeeded by creating a science-based, legal, and balanced forest management plan that provides for both economic opportunity and protection of the environment.
In 1991, the federal timber supply pipeline was shut down to a mere trickle. A federal court injunction put the timber sale program west of the Cascade mountains in a straight jacket, because the federal government did not have a forest plan that was both balanced and protected the region's forests, salmon, and water quality. A flurry of lawsuits followed, gridlock engulfed the region, previous administrations failed to address this dilemma, and during all of this activity of inaction, the timber supply pipeline was running dry.
The President stepped up to the challenge to get a sustainable timber supply pipeline flowing again. In 1994, the injunctions were lifted just two months after the President's Forest Plan's record of decision was announced.
For the first time in three years, the legal logjam was broken, and federal timber sales in the region of the northern spotted owl are moving forward.
More than 300 million board feet have been offered for sale from federal forest lands in Washington, Oregon and northern California. Of that amount, 136 million board feet comes from the west side of the Cascades.
More than 900 million board feet of timber is under contract and awaiting harvest at the purchaser's discretion.
To date, nearly 870 million board feet have been harvested, enough to build 72,000 average homes and employ about 6,000 people.
Millions of board feet of timber sales came to a dead stop, tied up in the legal morass of lawsuits and gridlock that existed prior to the Clinton administration.
255 million board feet of these deadlocked timber sales are now cleared and ready, thanks to the re-inventing of government in the region, with the federal agencies now working together as one government, coordinating their efforts, streamlining reviews and processes.
Also, in the next three months the path will be cleared to release an additional 88 million board feet.
While unemployment for the entire region is at its lowest level in two decades, there are still areas where changes in forest management practices have impacted many people and the communities they call home. The President recognized that these impacts would occur, and that's why the Economic Adjustment Initiative is aimed at providing both immediate and long-term relief for these people, businesses and communities.
The Initiative provides the funds needed for developing much-needed infrastructure in impacted communities, providing technical and financial assistance to rural businesses, creating new jobs through restoring the region's forested watersheds, and job training and retraining opportunities for dislocated workers.
So far, in just this year, the Initiative has distributed more than $92 million in grants and loans; millions more will reach the region before the year ends. That builds on last year's success, which saw more than $126 million assist more than 100 communities.
Assistance to Workers and Families
Example: $8.2 million awarded to Washington to retrain more than 1,700 dislocated timber workers.
Assistance to Business and Industry
Example: $7 million awarded in grants and loans to stimulate business growth and economic development in rural communities in Washington, Oregon and California.
Assistance to Communities
Example: Nearly $65 million awarded in grants and loans to help rural communities in Oregon, Washington, and California plan and build water systems, waste treatment facilities and other community infrastructure improvements.
Example: $37 million will be distributed this season to fund hundreds of watershed and ecosystem restoration projects in Oregon, Washington and California, restoring the environment and providing jobs.
Each state has one CERT whose membership is individually tailored to deal with the needs of workers, families, businesses and communities in their state. To eliminate red tape, the CERTs are working to streamline government and overcome bureaucratic barriers. So far this year, 22 barriers had been identified with 15 of them already removed. Last year, 25 barriers were removed.
Recognizing forests as a complex network of biological systems that are connected and dependent on each other, a team of hundreds of scientists and technical experts designed the forest plan on ecosystem management.
Riparian reserves: 2.2 million acres along streams and wetlands to protect and enhance clean water and to create habitat.
Adaptive management areas: 1.5 million acres consisting of ten areas intended for innovative forest management. Located near forest-dependent communities, these ten areas are living laboratories where experimenting with innovative, environmentally sensitive forest management techniques are being encouraged and developed.
Matrix lands: Includes 4.9 million acres outside of reserves and withdrawn areas which are available for timber harvest.
Congressionally withdrawn areas: 7 million acres of National Parks, wilderness areas,national monuments and other federal lands where timber harvest is prohibited.
Late-successional reserves: 7.1 million acres of federal lands where old-growth or late successional cutting is prohibited.
Administratively withdrawn areas: 1.7 million acres of federal land to be used for various uses such as experimental forestry, research, recreation, and scenic areas.
In an unprecedented effort, instead of creating more bureaucracy, the president directed the federal agencies involved with the forest plan to work together in creative new interagency groups. Agencies are saving money by jointly coordinating efforts, improving communication, sharing information, and eliminating duplication.
Along with the interagency committees, advisory committees were established to help ensure federal decision makers would be able to receive valuable input from local, state, and tribal governments, the public, and communities of both place and interest.