Wyoming representative says Minnick should be 'forest czar'
Washington, D.C. - Idaho Congressman Walt Minnick yesterday told a House subcommittee that dying Idaho forests are yet another sign of the need for a more proactive approach to management of public lands.
"Healthier ecosystems … provide economic and social benefits to both urban and rural communities, including better hunting, increased jobs in the woods, more logs for sawmills, forest residue for green-energy co-generation plants, clean water and improved wildlife habitat," Minnick said Tuesday at a House Natural Resources Committee oversight hearing.
The hearing was held to help the committee learn more about the effects on Western forests of infestation by the Mountain Bark Beetle, but Minnick also spoke about other critical issues, including the need to change the definition of the federal Renewable Fuels Standard to include forest biomass.
"We all love our forests, regardless of our party or our ideology," Minnick said. "It's not just about thinning [the forests.] Beetles attack weak trees - the key is having a healthy forest."
Minnick is a first-term Idaho Congressman who spent nearly two decades as a business leader in the forest products industry. He is also a committed outdoorsman who has spent a lifetime enjoying Idaho's forests and backcountry.
His testimony and knowledge of the issue prompted one of his colleagues, Republican Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, to end the hearing by calling for Minnick to take a leading role in management of our nation's forests.
"President Obama has appointed a number of czar-type positions," Rep. Lummis said, "And I would encourage President Obama to make Representative Minnick the 'forest czar' to address bark beetle issues."