PRESCOTT, Ariz. - Congressman Paul Gosar (R-AZ) responded to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack's release last week of the Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for the U.S. Forest Service's new forest planning rule, policy that will determine how the agency manages the country's national forests and grasslands.
"The Obama Administration's new forest planning rule increases costly, burdensome regulations and undermines the multiple-use mission of the Forest Service," Gosar said. "Rural Arizonans know first-hand the unfortunate truth: these types of policies stifle our local economies and lead to unhealthy and overgrown forests, which leave my constituents vulnerable to catastrophic wildfires.
He went on to say that the forest and natural resources are a way of life in Arizona.
"I urge the Administration to reconsider these new overly restrictive regulations," he said. "A new plan that emphasizes active forest management will improve public safety, help the environment, and stimulate the economy of rural Arizona."
Last February, Congressman Gosar joined 58 other Congressmen, who represent over 75 percent of our country's federal forest and grass lands, in sending a letter to Secretary Tom Vilsack raising concerns about the proposed new planning rules' de-emphasis on active forest management. The letter contends the Administration's new regulations represent excessive layers of bureaucracy that will cost jobs, hinder proper forest management, increase litigation and add burdensome costs for Americans.
The National Forest System consists of 155 National Forests and 20 Grasslands, totaling 192 million acres in 44 States, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Arizona's First Congressional District is home to over nine million acres of those lands. That acreage includes all or parts of Apache-Sitgreaves, Coconino, Kaibab, Prescott, and Tonto National Forests.