On Monday, September 19 the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands will hold a field hearing on “Restoring Public Access to the Public’s Lands: Issues Impacting Multiple-use on Our National Forests.” I requested this hearing because a growing number of citizen complaints protesting policies of the federal government that appear designed to radically limit the public’s use of our public lands.
The original mission of the U.S. Forest Service as defined by its creator, the legendary Gifford Pinchot, is to manage the forests “to provide for the greatest amount of good for the greatest number in the long run.” That has always meant welcoming recreation, hunting, fishing, camping, and riding in the forests, as well as the responsible and sustainable use of the public lands for the prosperity of the nation, including ranching, logging, energy development and other job-creating economic activities.
Nearly twenty percent of California’s lands and much of my District are managed by the U.S. Forest Service. These lands are the economic lifeblood for surrounding communities, supporting local jobs and bringing in revenue for surrounding communities through tourism, recreation and resource development. Restricting access to our public lands not only causes massive unemployment, but it also obstructs the sound management of our forests. It is time for Congress to conduct a top-to-bottom review of the abuses by this increasingly unaccountable and elitist agency, to demand accountability for the damage it has done – and is doing – to our forests’ health, to the public’s trust, to the nation’s economy – and to take whatever actions are necessary to restore an attitude of consumer-friendly public service.
The hearing on Monday is open to the public. The sub-committee will hear from the Forest Service, local officials, and citizens who have been harmed by these policies. From the record established at this hearing, we will take corrective actions to assure that the original mission of the Forest Service is restored and strengthened.
In January I spoke about this issue on the House Floor. You can see my remarks here.
The field hearing will be held in Sacramento at the Capitol at 10 AM in the Unruh Hearing Room.