Westerman, Bipartisan Congressmen Launch Working Forests Caucus for 115th Congress
WASHINGTON – Congressman Bruce Westerman (AR-04) joined a bipartisan group of congressmen Thursday (February 2) for the launch of the Working Forests Caucus in the 115th Congress. Thursday’s launch featured a roundtable discussion of tax policy and its impact on the future of working forests. Speakers included caucus member Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05), chair of the House Republican Conference; caucus co-chairs Westerman, Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-03), Sanford Bishop (GA-02), and Collin Peterson (MN-07); and forestry experts from across the country.
The caucus was formed during the 114th Congress 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. According to the American Forest and Paper Association, 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 68 bipartisan Members of Congress from all over the United States are 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.”
"I am proud to join my colleagues in re-forming the Working Forests Caucus for the 115th Congress,” Bishop said. “This caucus is an invaluable forum for the wood products industry, including forest owners, tree farmers, loggers, and lumber mill operators, to present their unique challenges to Congress and an invaluable forum for Members of Congress to hear these concerns directly from constituents and stakeholders. Georgia has the largest amount of privately-owned forest land in the nation and I look forward to working with the Working Forests Caucus to help preserve this natural and economic resource 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.”
A complete list of Working Forests Caucus members may be found here.