WASHINGTON – Congressman Bruce Westerman (AR-04) joined a bipartisan group of congressmen Wednesday (April 20) for the launch of the Working Forests Caucus.
The caucus – co-chaired by Westerman, Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-03), Sanford Bishop (GA-02), and Collin Peterson (MN-07) – was formed to advocate for working forests across the United States. These include highlighting the economic, environmental, and social benefits of private working forests, and supporting policies to promote this renewable resource. The American Forest and Paper Association said the forest products industry accounts for four percent of U.S. manufacturing GDP annually, manufacturing more than $200 billion in products and employing 900,000 people each year.
Updates to the tax code, as well as changes in how the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) treats forest biomass and declaring it carbon neutral, are goals of the caucus.
A total of 45 members from the Democratic and Republican parties from all over the United States have signed on to be inaugural members of the Working Forests Caucus.
“As a professional forester in a district more than 80 percent forested, I know how important working forests are to the economy of Arkansas,” Westerman, a Yale-educated forester, said. “Working forests are our nation’s number one renewable resource. Healthy working forests promote clean air and water. There is no downside to a healthy forest. Through my work in the Working Forests Caucus, I will be a voice for the Fourth District of Arkansas and the thousands employed in the forest products industry.”
“Our communities in Southwest Washington rely on responsible timber management, made possible by the magnificent forests that surround us,” Beutler said. “Today we launched the bipartisan Working Forests Caucus in order to bring science-based management to our forests that will sustain this wonderful resource as well as good, family-wage jobs for generations to come.”
“Minnesota forest owners and loggers provide a healthy respect for forests while producing some of the finest products in the world,” Peterson said. “The forest industry supports more than 30,000 hardworking people in Minnesota and grows three times as much as is harvested. I am looking forward to the Working Forests Caucus and promoting the benefits of private timberlands for our nation’s rural economy.”