Federal management of Arizona’s forests has led to a drastic 15% reduction in tree cover over the past two decades and an uptick in forest fires. This is unsustainable and will lead to the erosion of our natural beauty here in Arizona if left unchecked. The Arizona State House passed HCM2004 with bipartisan support- encouraging the United States Congress to enact sound forest management policies in national forest service lands.
The full text of the memorial can be found below:
To the Congress of the United States of America:
Your memorialist respectfully represents:
Whereas, America’s national forest system (NFS) comprises more than 750 million acres – covering approximately one-third of our nation’s land mass – and provides the United States with a wealth of beauty and economic prosperity; and
Whereas, America’s forest lands are dying at an unprecedented rate due to catastrophic wildfires and devastating insect and disease epidemics that have resulted from years of mismanagement and unsound policies; and
Whereas, more than 100 years ago, the federal government recognized the importance of a responsible forest management policy that combined protection of forest resources with commercial outputs. For most of the twentieth century the federal government largely adhered to this prudent, common-sense policy, which provided for multiple uses of forests lands in conjunction with sustained economic yield; and
Whereas, over the past 25 years, however, our NFS has experienced a crisis as changes to forest management policies have resulted in uncoordinated, conflicting and overbearing state and federal regulations. These inconsistent approaches have led to a gridlock of confusion and litigation, with numerous lawsuits being filed to exclude any commercial activity; and
Whereas, the newer NFS policies have become skewed toward preserving forests at all costs instead of managing them, leading to choked, overly dense forests that have suffered from the effects of increasingly large and intense wildfires over the past 50 years, particularly in the western United States. These severe wildfires result in increased erosion, increased greenhouse gas emissions, higher levels of air pollution from smoke, loss of fish and wildlife and negative impacts to local economies; and
Whereas, a majority of the United States Forest Service budget is now spent on firefighting costs; and
Whereas, our nation’s once-vibrant timber industry has slowed drastically as hundreds of sawmills have closed and thousands of forest industry jobs have been lost. The resulting 70% reduction in NFS timber outputs has resulted in the United States becoming the world’s second largest importer of softwood lumber products, with only China importing more; and
Whereas, the combined lack of active forest management and timber harvesting has not only made our forests much more vulnerable to the damaging effects of wildfire, but has resulted in rural economic hardship, steady forest decline and epidemic insect and disease outbreaks; and
Whereas, sound scientific solutions, both short-term and long-term, are needed to end forest gridlock and improve the health of both our forests and our nation’s economy. Inconsistent and overreaching forest management policies must be replaced by a common-sense policy to make America’s forests thrive again.
Wherefore your memorialist, the House of Representatives of the State of Arizona, the Senate concurring, prays:
1. That the United States Congress enact meaningful legislation that will support reasonable and prudent multiple-use forest management policies to improve our nation’s forest health.
2. That the Secretary of State of the State of Arizona transmit copies of this Memorial to the President of the United States, the President of the United States Senate, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives and each Member of Congress from the State of Arizona.
PASSED BY THE HOUSE FEBRUARY 21, 2023.
PASSED BY THE SENATE APRIL 5, 2023.
FILED IN THE OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY OF STATE APRIL 6, 2023.