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WASHINGTON OUTLOOK.

Over the last Few months, AMERICAN FORESTS has worked to bring the values and goals of our ecosystem-restoration-and-maintenance policy agenda to leaders in the new Administration and in Congress. We have met with Dave Tenny, acting undersecretary for natural resources and environment in the Agriculture Department, and Forest Service chief Dale Bosworth--both expressed substantial interest in community forestry. We have helped bring the voices of our community-based partners to Capitol Hill and testified on the Administration's fiscal year 2002 budget proposals. The results have been promising; there is significant interest in ecosystem restoration and community forestry among natural- resource leaders in the White House and in Congress.

But environmental politics have become increasingly polarized as President Bush has staked out unpopular positions, such as rejecting the Kyoto protocol on global climate change and focusing on energy production rather than conservation. The President made a goad decision in upholding the national forest roadless area policy adapted by the Clinton administration, but later his support seemed tepid as the policy come under attack in the courts (see americanforests.org). Tension over environmental issues has been palpable in Washington, though the power shift in the Senate may increase bipartisan activity.

For the fourth year in a row, we worked with the National Network of Forest Practitioners, the Communities Committee of the Seventh American Forest Congress, and the Pinchot Institute for Conservation to bring community forest practitioners to Washington in March for legislative training, policy briefings, and Congressional hearings. Four practitioners appeared before the House Resources Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health and were deemed "impressive" by the subcommittee's chairman, Scott Mclnnis (R-CO). The subcommittee is exploring legislation to advance community-based forestry initiatives.

Five practitioners also testified at a hearing on the National Fire Plan convened by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Forests and Public Land Management. The National Fire Plan, developed after lost year's dramatic wildfire season, calls for new investments and strategies to help rural areas respond to the threat of wildfires. The witnesses described the need for community fire planning, focusing on urban-wildland interface areas while considering the forests' ecosystem. They also described how National Fire Plan funds provide opportunities for skill-training, jabs, and small business development.

In May, Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), then ranking minority member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID), then chair of the committee's Subcommittee on Forests and Public Land Management, joined AMERICAN FORESTS and several partners at a Capitol Hill press conference to release our new book Understanding Community-Based Forest Ecosystem Management. The senators announced a bill they are working on that would advance community-based forestry. We look forward to working with them on this legislation.

Gerry Gray
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Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:efforts to develop environmental policy
Author:Gray, Gerry
Publication:American Forests
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 22, 2001
Words:452
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