House passes amendment to prevent costly permits for forest roads

The House recently passed an amendment to the Farm Bill that would prevent costly new federal regulations and permit requirements for forest roads.

Oregon and Washington legislators sponsored the amendment. It would maintain the status quo of how forest roads are currently regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency, which is in line with the state of Oregon’s standards.

The amendment preserves the EPA’s position that forest roads should not be regulated as pollution sources under the Clean Water Act and would prevent further determinations in the future by the federal government that costly permits be required for everyday activities, such as reforestation, thinning, and pest and fire control, that occur across the country on public, private, state and tribal forest roads.

Prior to the vote that passed unanimously, Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) delivered remarks on the House floor in support of the legislation. Walden said the bill is of particular importance to those who work in the woods in the Northwest.

“For nearly four decades, the EPA has said that driving down a forest road is not the same as pumping raw sewage into a river,” Walden said. “They’re much different activities! This amendment would prevent the federal government from subjecting forested communities and business to further costly permits for everyday activities, like driving down a road.”

Walden spoke about his constituents and how familiar they are with high unemployment rates, with a growing number of kids receiving free lunches. He attributed this to burdensome federal regulations that have curtailed professional activity in the federal forests. He also said lawsuits are posing a threat to activity in private forests as well.

“The last thing they need is more costly and lawsuit-prone regulations that will further impact rural communities and the people who live there that simply want the opportunity to work in the woods, raise their families and grow their communities,” Walden said.