Congressman Don Young Introduces Legislation to Empower States to Improve Forest Management
Washington, January 28, 2021
Washington, D.C. – Today, Alaska Congressman Don Young introduced legislation to fix the federal government's broken forestry management system. His bill, the State National Forest Management Act, implements reforms to empower and engage with local communities, build resilient forests for the future, and streamline burdensome management practices. Additionally, his legislation works to address the significant failures of the nation's federal land management agencies. Under his bill, these shortfalls would be addressed by authorizing states to select and acquire certain National Forest System lands to be managed and operated by the state for timber production and other purposes under the law.
"Self-governance is crucial to the American way of life, and I truly believe that government works best for the people when it is closest to the people. For too long, the federal government's heavy hand has attempted to make decisions for Alaska from federal agency office buildings over 3,000 miles away from our state. Nowhere in the nation are federal land decisions more destructive to communities and hardworking Alaskans than in the 17 million-acre Tongass National Forest," said Congressman Young. "The Tongass is both a precious resource and a sensitive ecosystem that deserves effective management. Unsurprisingly, given the federal government's track record, what should be a straightforward and balanced management process has, time and time again, failed. In Alaska, we have a proven record of success in managing millions of acres of state parks and forests. My bill will allow states and local governments to show that they are, in fact, the best stewards of our lands. My legislation works to address the major failures of our federal land management agencies, while allowing states to protect and utilize the lands they know and love. This proposal works to end the constant fighting between our forestry communities and the federal government by allowing us to resolve our differences at home. As the most senior Member of the Natural Resources Committee, I will be pushing hard to empower Alaska and see my bill across the finish line."
AK Forest Association (AFA) Executive Director Tessa Axelson said, “AFA supports the transfer of National Forest lands to the State of Alaska. 95% of Southeast Alaska is owned by the Federal government. More than 70,000 people live within the region and the viability of the 30 communities in the region is at risk due to the lack of available land for economic development. Transferring national forest lands to the State provides opportunities for growth and prosperity and allows for management and access at a local level rather than in Washington, D.C.”